4 Strategies for Increasing Diversity in Tech (and Everywhere Else Too)

TLNT

Andrea K. Douglas, Senior Attorney in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Los Angeles office, authored an article in TLNT, titled “4 Strategies for Increasing Diversity in Tech (and Everywhere Else Too).”

Following is an excerpt:

While employment opportunities in the technology sector have grown at twice the rate of the national average, high-tech firms have struggled to increase diversity within the workplace. Data compiled from voluntary disclosures to the EEOC reveals large racial and gender disparities within tech workforces as compared to the private sector overall. Recent studies show that improving ethnic and gender diversity within the technology workforce presents an economic opportunity that could result in as much as $570 billion in new value for the tech industry, and could add as much as 1.6% to the national gross domestic product. With a new analysis of challenges to diversity in the tech industry, it is an ideal time for employers to evaluate diversity initiatives currently in use.

In the past, experts blamed the American education system for failing to provide women and minorities with the type of instruction needed for future careers in technology-driven fields, thereby causing a lack of quality applicants in selected science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM”) occupations. Experts also opined that women and minorities self-selected away from STEM fields, contributing to a lack of diversity in the tech industry employment pipeline. Based upon that thinking, tech companies have focused diversity initiatives on efforts intended to increase diversity within the talent pipeline.

New research suggests that the lack of diversity in the talent pipeline is only part of the problem. In a recent report, the Kapor Center for Social Impact, an organization that aims to increase diversity and inclusion in the technology industry, opines that the lack of diversity in the technology sector results from a complex set of social and psychological barriers that occur across the length of the technology pipeline. While a lack of access to education impedes diversification of the tech industry, the report also cites environmental workplace problems, such as inhospitable corporate culture and unconscious bias, as factors that both impede the entry and facilitate the exodus of women and minorities in the tech workforce.