It's no secret that diversity amongst tech companies is a hot topic. There seems to be so much talk about it that it can easily confuse folks on the outside looking in on the actual progress that is being made.
When I first came to Silicon Valley in 2011 I easily knew all of the other people of color in the room at tech events so the idea that there weren't enough people of color (for hiring or otherwise) was a bit more justifiable. Today, when I'm at tech events I honestly don't know most of the people in the room.
There has been so much excitement around getting involved in tech (to work or launch a company) that it's hard to believe companies still can't find entrepreneurs or employees that are "qualified" enough to invest in or hire.
There was a great piece in the New York Times titled "Has Diversity Lost it's Meaning." The article posed several questions, not specific to the tech industry but still interesting in their own right. For me, the most profound point in the article written by Anna Holmes was the question: Is the term diversity making us lazy?
Author Jeff Chang was interviewed by Holmes and his take was that the term diversity is being used as a lazy way to appear to be involved and care without actually doing the work necessary to actually diversify.
Just yesterday, I spoke at the Techonomy conference on a panel titled "Scouting for Talent, Digging for Diversity." It was exciting to see the level of interest and excitement around hiring diverse candidates: We discussed on the panel how to use algorithms or actual humans to reduce unconscious bias in the hiring process.
Some of the panelist skewed more towards technology to solve this problem while others skewed more toward human processes to solve this problem. One panelist though, who I was most impressed with had a simple solution that has already begun impacting his organization.
And it was to simply just be comfortable taking a risk on individuals who have the ability to do the job and are a good culture fit. The thought is that people can be trained to do a job especially if they have the capacity to do it and are a good culture fit but someone who can do the job day 1 but might not be the best culture fit can be a cancer in an organization.
His approach has been simple and bold. He noticed there was a problem in his organization and he wanted to change it.
And he did. He's made deliberate hires without apologies and without caring about disrupting the "bro culture" that had begun to form on his engineering team. As he put it, "It has transformed my organization." And for the better.
This got me thinking that perhaps we overthink the issue on diversity instead of simply just taking action. From my vantage point the tech industry needs to genuinely care about equity and opportunity enough to take risks and take action rather than focusing on making sure as many people as possible know that their intentions are in the right place.
After all intention without action means nothing.