As a woman and an immigrant in tech, DE&I is top-of-mind in my own endeavors. My company is woman-led, and our team is both multicultural and multinational. And, honestly, I find that executives don't have to be convinced that diversity, equity, and inclusion are good ideas--that's not the challenge. Instead, it's how to ensure that equal representation actually happens.
For it to happen, we have to try a little (or a lot) harder. Fortunately, many industry leaders and influencers are taking action to ensure the tech industry is more diverse and inclusive.
Where We Are With DE&I
Why the focus on the tech industry when it comes to diversity? It's simple--growth, opportunity, and sustainability. Jobs in this industry are growing at twice the rate of other sectors in the U.S. economy. We have a real opportunity to have a powerful, positive impact. And tech jobs generally pay more and are less susceptible to economic downturns.
As tech grows, it's important to make sure the industry reflects our diverse population. Technology trends should be developed by teams that represent the breadth of humanity--single perspective innovation is shortsighted. Diversity in tech also means diversity of perspective, which increases innovation that much more. Currently, 83 percent of executives in the tech industry are white, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Women in executive leadership positions make up 20 percent, and only 8.35 percent of employees are African American. That doesn't reflect what our communities look like.
Over the past decade, there's also been a growing concern that U.S. workers are less prepared for careers in tech than workers in other countries. We've been focused on not falling behind rather than improving diversity. But good news is on the horizon. Minority enrollment in science and engineering graduate programs has increased by 35 percent.
The U.S. is slowly gaining ground with its tech workforce and the diversity of that workforce, but there is more that needs to be done. Although the number of women in tech is inching up, their salaries remain stagnant. A study of STEM salaries revealed that women were earning up to 25 percent less than men.
Becoming more inclusive has to be an active endeavor--and an urgent one.
Who's Leading the Way?
Large corporations have the potential to make the most impact given the sheer number of employees. Many of these mega-companies have stepped up with action plans to address the issue of inclusivity and diversity in their companies. Microsoft has been involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, pledging to invest $150 million into DE&I and to double the number of African American managers, senior-level leaders, and individual contributors by 2025.
But it's not only up to the large companies. Smaller companies can make an impact. By being more involved in our communities, leaders can recruit more inclusively. As a female executive, I'm often asked to speak at events for women--there's an opportunity for recruitment. I'm also asked to speak because of my immigrant business owner status--there's another opportunity. Executives have so many opportunities to be more inclusive.
One method to increase DE&I initiatives is to join or create programs like the "Leading Allies of ... " a movement focused on advancing DE&I. It held its first annual meeting, "Leading Allies of ... Data Centers and the Cloud" in November 2021. The theme was "De-Mystifying DE&I: Diversity in Our Digital Infrastructure."
Speakers expressed their concern that a lack of diversity in the industry would impede its growth and innovation.
One DE&I program that focuses on women in tech is the Women's Initiative for Networking Growth and Success (Wings). This program was created by Altimetrik, a digital business enablement company, to increase the number of women in STEM fields. The program is responsible for more than 550 new hires thus far. Wings is paired, in many ways, with one of Altimetrik's other programs, Rebound -- Back to Work, which brings women who have left their careers back into the job market.
And bringing women back into the workforce is a big diversity initiative for qBotica, an automation-as-a-service provider, as well. It created Reboot, which specifically reaches out to moms who want to get into tech. The company's accelerated three-month boot camp is designed to give mothers the edge they need to reboot their careers.
Predictions for the Future
With so much attention on the tech industry and enhanced efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion, within five years we should see a substantial shift from the mostly white, mostly male executive ranks to a more diverse, better-represented community in tech. This change will become the new normal, and, as a result, we can expect the pace of innovation to continue to accelerate.