Breaking the mold: Investing in racial diversity in tech

Recently we ran across a new report released by Open MIC about the lack of racial diversity in the tech industry. This is a topic we’re often asked about as we travel to speak, consult and train companies in diversity and inclusion.

Other industries ask us all the time, “What are they doing in the tech sector about this?” Our answer always surprises them: They aren’t doing much better than other industries!

The irony is that companies like Google and Facebook are at the forefront of so many innovations and new practices, and yet their lack of diversity undermines things like their financial performance, which investors are paying close attention to.

A new report titled, “Breaking the Mold: Investing in Racial Diversity in Tech” in February of this year highlights existing data that illustrates the fact that:

“Black, Latino, and Native Americans are unrepresented in the tech industry by 16-to-18 percentage points compared to their presence in the U.S. labor force overall.”

We need to work hard to address these shortfalls, especially with respect to things like workforce data transparency – something each of the big tech companies have been focusing on, recently. Like any industry, tech companies are working hard to increase their diverse talent at all levels, and to work on a culture that retains this diverse talent. But there is still a long way to go!

“Across the nation, around the world, advances in technology are the drivers of innovation, opportunities and prosperity. Tech companies spur productivity, make difficult tasks easier and improve lives. They create wealth and provide fulfillment not just for those with the bright ideas, but also for the well-paid workforces that turn the entrepreneurs’ vision and prototypes into products. Yet in a country with a population growing more diverse each day,1 the U.S. tech community is monochromatic, a bastion of white, male privilege. People of color largely remain shut out of the tech industry. It cannot go on this way.”

What was interesting about this report was that it looked at the problem from the view of a potential investor. Not only did it provide some up-to-date numbers on racial diversity, but it drove an important point home about investing in diverse companies, and provided a true business case model at the 10,000 foot level.

Other groups we can focus on studying (in parallel to racial diversity as defined by this study) would be things like gender, disabilities, veteran status, generational diversity. The possibilities for different kinds of industries are very compelling.

Do you have the perception that the tech industry is getting things right? What can you apply to your own business practices to ensure that you have the best and brightest teams from diverse backgrounds?

Please share in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.