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Diversity in Tech is More Than a Number

Everyone loves to benchmark everything. The general consensus is that females make up about 20% of the tech industry’s workforce. So, if your company is running below 20%, then you need to catch up.

Think of the 20% benchmark as the current “WiT Comfort Zone”. To get out of this comfort zone and improve the diversity numbers, you will need to have some uncomfortable conversations and do a few things differently.

I learned a lot after doing e-ChannelNEWS interviews with many women in the tech industry. We talked about their journey. How they got to where they are and some of the challenges they faced along the way. I also had some candid conversations off the record.

Here are some of my thoughts from my “Women In Tech” conversations…

  1. Start with the person in the mirror. Yes, that’s YOU! Look at yourself honestly and ask the big questions to uncover if you have a bias towards anyone who does not look like you. It may be on purpose or subliminal. Whatever you discover, own it. It may not be who you want to be, but it’s most likely who you are. Only you can change you!
  2. If you are in a leadership role in your company, then look around and kick start a simple task of mentoring someone to move up. Start by really listening to them and understanding their challenges. Walk in their shoes. Help them to overcome some of the workplace challenges. Introduce them to others. Transfer as much of your knowledge as possible. Mentor and help one person to be the best that they can be. Pave the way to promote them in whatever capacity you have.
  3. If you are one of the minorities and no one is reaching out to help you, then you reach up and ask. It is amazing what can happen when you ask for help. Don’t be a wallflower. Take measured actions to take control of our career. Learn more skills every chance you get. Get obsessed about the company you work in and learn how you can help make it better. Even if you end up leaving, you can bring that knowledge with you.
  4. Form a small diverse peer group of people within your company to spend time to talk about everything including diversity issues. Invite anyone interested into the group. Brainstorm and explore how you can skill up as a group and become a collaborative force.
  5. If you are a woman, find out what percentage of your company’s workforce represents females. Know the starting point and monitor progress. Compare to similar competitive companies and learn why the difference exists. Maybe you can help your company to make some changes that can improve your workplace environment.
  6. Build a grassroots movement from within your company not just to become more diverse, but to collaborate to improve the business. Demonstrate the power of your strength in diversity. Do a little research to uncover the facts about how well companies with a more diverse workforce outperform those who are not (look closely at the L’Oreal ad above). Use your diversity to change the behaviours of the people in the company with more actions and less talk.
  7. Pry open the gates to hiring more diverse people. The bottleneck is most likely in the HR silo governed by management. How they hire and the biases in their practices determine the outcome. It can be as simple as who does the hiring. Have a diverse group of people do the hiring. A more open mind in the hiring process will be a sustainable game changer. When diversity enters your workplace, continue to nurture it so it can flourish.
  8. Tell your story. Social media allows anyone to spread a message and can have a ripple effect in your company and larger community! Empower others by showing them your success and your why. Win over more minds of your colleagues. Book an interview with eChannelNEWS.
  9. Ask your company to have an expert in diversity to come and talk at one of your corporate events. These experts understand the issues and can provide a more detailed road map to help any company improve diversity in their workplace.
  10. Keep on talking about diversity whenever the opportunity arise both internally and externally. When you go to conferences (live or virtual) bring up the topic by asking about their experiences, policies etc. Extend your “peer-group” to other companies but keep the conversation on diversity. Do not develop the mindset of it’s them verses us. Think about contributing to everyone’s success.

These are some of the things that ANYONE could easily do in the face of diversity challenges to break the gridlock. If you are lucky enough to work for a company with an outstanding diversity record, then double down by using your pulpit to convince others that diversity matters in every way!

Here are a few things that we do to help our diversity mission for “Women In Tech”. We focus on women, but most activities apply to all diversity challenges.

  1. Book a news interviews on eChannelNEWS.
  2. Join any “Mastermind” peer-group of other women.
  3. Make your nomination for Best Woman In Tech.

Do a little something every day to keep moving the needle up. Visualize the day when the issue of diversity is such old news that our activities in this mission becomes obsolete.

In the meantime, let’s all do more in 2021!

Julian Lee