Top Five: Diversity in Tech

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Apple’s updated diversity numbers are out and while they’re an improvement from the tech company’s 2014 numbers, there’s still a long way to go. Although Apple is making strides in hiring more women, more people of colour, and more LGBTQ salaried employees, key leadership roles still tend to be filled by white men.

That’s the story all over the tech industry: firms create a diversity program, bring in new hires and retain them – for a time – until they hit a ceiling. It’s common for women to leave STEM jobs after even five years, citing both stalled career growth and a toxic culture, and the same holds true for other “diversity hires.” Are tech companies committed to employee growth or are these hires looked at as a convenient, disposable solution to a thorny PR problem.? 

This week’s top five is about increasing diversity in tech in the long term.

5. Why Is the “Rooney Rule” Suddenly Tech’s Answer to Hiring More Women?

Last week President Obama issued a challenge to the tech industry: get moving on workforce diversity. And the tech industry responded positively. Of course they want to diversify their workforce – after all, studies suggest diverse teams perform better than homogenous ones – and they’ll do it using the NFL’s Rooney Rule. Fortune breaks down the origin of the Rooney Rule and its strengths and weakness. The big one? There’s no in built compliance. The Rooney Rule is all about considering more diverse candidates, not setting goals or benchmarks. It allows tech companies to aim for a vague “diversification” without thinking about what “diversification” actually looks like.

4. Pinterest Makes Hiring Goals Public in Diversity Push

Like Apple, Xerox and many other tech companies, Pinterest too wants to diversify its workforce – preferably quickly – but what’s different about its approach is that its based not opportunities, but goals. Not only do recruiters and hiring managers have targets to aim for, but they’ve made those goals public and they’ll have to be accountable – to the press at the very least – should the fail to meet them. And it’s working. Marketwatch says,

“Among its top goals is to increase its hiring rates for full-time engineering roles to 30% female, increase hiring for full-time engineers to 8% under-represented ethnic backgrounds, and increase hiring for non-engineering roles to 12% under-represented ethnic backgrounds.”

3. Intel’s Radically Transparent Analysis of its Diversity Initiatives

Intel too is setting clear goals and being transparent about them, going so far as to release a 15 page report on their 2014 goals. Their analysis proves that setting clear recruitment goals and creating a culture of positive change and accountability pays off: they’ve exceeded their goals are on track to do the same this year. What makes Intel’s initiative so effective is that the need for a diverse tech workforce is being championed at every level of the firm and it has been embraced as a core value of the business.

2.  Tech’s Trouble with Diversity

But it isn’t just a matter of copying Pinterest and Intel and rolling in good press. As HRE Online points out, diversity training is often rejected or ignored by the existing workforce, including the C suite and human resources. Is your organization interested in and committed to changing for the better? If the answer is no, then diversity training isn’t going to have much impact. Is your organization ready to understand that unconscious bias means that nice people do unfair and unjust things? Are you ready to get serious and build in compliance? If not, your efforts aren’t going to succeed.

1. Tech Diversity: Hewlett-Packard Adds Numerous Women, African-Americans To The Boards Of Its New Companies

HP made two dramatic moves this week. It split a venerable tech giant into two, already valuable, smaller tech giants, and it announced that it would radically increase diversity on its two boards. Big changes like this aren’t everything – like I said above, the day to day company culture is absolutely essential to making your diversity program work – but this sends a tremendously important message to the tech industry. Making space for women, people of colour and LGBTQ tech workers is essential, but making room for diverse leaders means sharing power and embracing long term change.

Alaina Percival, CEO of Women Who Code, quoted in the International Busines Times, said that  “diverse perspectives bring strong leadership to corporate boards. It also sends a message to the workforce and marketplace that the company is serious about its commitment to diversity and inclusion, making it a more appealing place for top talent and consumers alike.”


As Alexandra Kubrak pointed out last week here on Blogging4Jobs, one of the most important things that HR can do to support diversity goals is to push for compliance at every level, not just in hiring. HR has to play a role in guiding tech companies toward diversity programs that don’t just pay lip service to the deep problems in the industry, but address them practically and proactively. Set goals, address workplace culture, ensure compliance, and above all, work to make diversity a central part of your organization’s core values. Diverse tech isn’t just a PR coup, it’s a social and economic necessity.

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  1. Great points here. It’s obvious that lots of industries like tech need to be more proactive about hiring a diverse workforce. Thanks for sharing your insight on this!


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