According to multiple Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO-1) reports from big tech players like Apple, Twitter and Facebook, the American tech workforce is on an imbalanced teeter totter leaning in the white male population's court.
The Verge recently compared EEO-1 reports from multiple tech companies to pull a sample average breakdown between male to female and across ethnicities. According to the research, females only hold 29% of jobs while Caucasians hold 60% of jobs (43% of Caucasians being male). When comparing the imbalance in racial diversity, African Americans only account for 7% of the tech workforce, while they make up over 12% of the US population (according to the 2010 US Census).
If diversity is a major priority for your business (which it should be), how can you ensure your company is working to improve diversity across the organization? Or better yet, across the technology entrepreneurship landscape?
Step 1: Acknowledge the issue
What are the goals and where do you start? This is different for each company for a plethora of reasons. For some, the answer is building a more diverse workplace. For others, it's working with more diverse third-party vendors. But if hiring/altering the workforce isn't currently in play and you're not at liberty to change vendors/don't work with any, is there nothing that can be done?
Acknowledging that your company sees diversity as an ongoing issue in tech entrepreneurship is a good first step. This could come in the form of a blog post, a talking point during an interview, or even in a company announcement surrounding future initiatives to improve diversity. While many are interested in what the company has done in terms of a solution, recognizing the issue exists and affects the industry you are a part of is an important step.
Step 2: Determining your diversity mission
The company has paved the first stone on the path to a more-inclusive workforce--what's the next step? Craft a diversity mission with internal goals you'd like to meet.
Like any set of goals, be realistic. The last thing you want to do is make outlandish promises that your company simply can't meet. Do your goals include hiring? Will you provide services to existing organizations already focused on improving diversity? Do they include donations/grants?
Diversity is a long-term goal. The problem can't be fixed with one simple solution. Weigh your options and determine the best course of action for the company. If the goals could affect your businesses well-being, you should obviously re-evaluate. You can't fix diversity in a company that is going under.
Step 3: Follow in Footsteps
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. When determining best practices to improve diversity across your organization it's, at the very least, a good practice to research what other companies are doing to fix diversity internally.
In August 2015, the White House hosted the first ever "White House Demo Day" focused on inclusive entrepreneurship, welcoming startup founders from across the country to showcase their goals for a more diverse future in entrepreneurship. During the event, companies announced initiatives to improve diversity, which included unique and attainable commitments.
During the event, Techstars committed to doubling participation of women and underrepresented minorities in its accelerator program applicant pool over the next four years. As a part of this commitment, Techstars will publish diversity data related to its employees, accelerator programs, and mentor network on an annual basis.
Since White House Demo Day, Techstars introduced the Techstars Foundation--a non-profit to improve diversity in technology entrepreneurship through grants, scholarships and sponsorships. The Foundation now offers a way for alumni, partners, mentors and others supporters to give to organizations creating stronger entrepreneurship communities worldwide. The Foundation recently announced the first round of grant recipients, which includes organizations focused on previously incarcerated and active military entrepreneurs--groups that are often forgotten.
During White House Demo Day, Summer of Service, based in San Antonio, launched "Make It Happen," a new initiative designed to advance inclusive entrepreneurship by encouraging youth to create their own social entrepreneurship ventures with help and guidance from the organization.
NY Tech Meetup committed to specific actions promoting diversity, transparency and outreach. The organization pledged to continue gathering demographic data from all NY Tech Meetup demo applicants and begin gathering demographic data from members who volunteer it, in order to publically share this data.
Lesbians Who Tech committed to investing $100,000 in coding scholarships, paying tuition costs for queer women to learn how to code.
Whether it's hiring, promoting or donating to diversity issues, there are plenty of options when it comes to creating your company's plan. Do your due diligence and research companies that are comparable--in size, in funding, or in a specific field. Your competitors may be steps ahead of you, but it's never to late to get involved in the solution.
Step 4: Enlisting help
Enlist help from the local organizations connecting diverse candidates to companies in your community, like churches, colleges and recruiters.
Organizations like Astia and Change Catalyst are also good places to start. Astia provides capital, connections and expertise that fuel growth of highly innovative, women-led ventures around the world. Change Catalyst is committed to inclusive innovation through their Tech Inclusion program, which explores innovative solutions to tech diversity and inclusion through events, career fairs, consulting and training.
As a tech community, we know diversity is an issue that needs a solution. Organizations across the technology industry are taking the first steps towards a better future, and our ecosystem will benefit greatly from the effort to include entrepreneurs of all races, genders and backgrounds into the community. The ball is already rolling--let's help push it along.