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CompTIA recently formed a working group to prepare and support minority individuals in an effort to close the diversity gap in tech organizations. We created this group to provide the tools and resources needed for a successful career in technology. Our ultimate goal is to achieve official CompTIA community status, which will allow us to collaborate on initiatives that advance the global IT industry and shape its future as well.
Organizations that embrace a diverse workforce make better business decisions and enjoy better financial performance than those that do not. The tech sector in particular has become a major source of economic growth fueling our economy with tech innovations impacting how we communicate and access information, distribute products and services, address societal problems and make our lives so much more fun. Yet, the tech industry has historically struggled with diversity and inclusion. While many organizations acknowledge its importance, few have taken proactive steps to reduce bias and improve diversity in the workplace. According to their own diversity reports, 70 percent of Google’s staff are male, as well as 84 percent of Facebook’s tech team, while Twitter’s leadership is 72 percent white and 28 percent Asian. It’s alarming that tech companies employ strikingly few minority workers; providing us with an opportunity to make a significant impact.
Although many tech companies assert their commitment to improving diversity, statistics and personal experience paint quite a different picture. As an African-American female in tech for over 20 years, I am always stunned – and shouldn’t be anymore – at how few minorities I see at industry events and in leadership roles at organizations for which I’ve worked. While it’s easier for me to stay in a holding pattern of waiting for the industry to catch up with the faces of change, I’ve decided that I can take action. I heard Al Gore so eloquently state the other day the difference a vote can make to change an outcome. The same rule applies in business outcomes. You can make a difference to drive diversity in technology. Become the change that you want to see! Here are six ways to do it:
1. Challenge yourself to strengthen your understanding of diversity and inclusion to identify and eliminate unconscious biases that undermine corporate efforts. For example, male managers may rely too heavily on sports analogies – a habit that might not be inclusive for women or non-athletes.
2. Understand the diversity elements that you personally bring to the table. Become a mentor to a co-worker that does not look like you or share your culture or background.
3. Become culturally competent. Ask co-workers about their background and customs. Educate yourself by taking a course, attending diversity events and reading books.
4. Pay your knowledge forward to colleagues. Be tolerant of co-workers who do not yet appreciate the value of diversity or who may not always behave respectfully. Often, negative behavior comes from ignorance rather than malice. A willingness to educate can go a long way.
5. Drive positive change in your organization and become a spokesperson for diversity issues that are not necessarily your own. Any organization will find it difficult to ignore the powerful voice created when groups representing different diversity dimensions unite.
6. Identify and build connections with national organizations supporting diversity in technology. Volunteer to chair or serve in their efforts.