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CompTIA CEO Challenges IT Industry on Workforce Diversity in ChannelCon 2017 Keynote Speech

Aug 1, 2017

Industry could grow by $400B if its workforce reflected nation’s talent pool

Austin, Texas – The information technology (IT) industry could generate an additional $400 billion in revenue each year if the ethnic and gender makeup of its workforce reflected the nation’s talent pool, the president and CEO of tech association CompTIA said here today.

“If women and people of color were represented in the tech sector as they are in the labor force, we’d have one million more women and 500,000 Hispanics, African Americans and Native Americans in our workforce,” Todd Thibodeaux said during his opening keynote speech at ChannelCon 2017, the IT industry’s premier education, networking and partnering event going on this week in Austin.

Thibodeaux challenged IT leaders to tackle workforce diversity and inclusion as a market issue.

“Financially a one percentage point move toward representative diversity leads to a three-point increase in revenue,” he said. “Companies in the top quartile for ethnic and gender diversity are more likely to surpass industry norms for revenue and operating margin. Companies in the bottom quartile for diversity aren’t just lagging behind, they are rapidly losing ground.”

The challenge of diversity touches many industries, not just tech, Thibodeaux said. But since 2014 leading Silicon Valley companies have been publicly releasing their diversity stats, keeping diversity in the tech industry in the headlines.

“While Silicon Valley is a hugely important engine of growth and innovation, it’s not representative of the entire tech industry,” he remarked.

“It doesn’t take into account tens of thousands companies operating in the channel; and millions of people working in tech jobs in non-tech companies,” Thibodeaux continued. “These companies and individuals represent the complete breadth of the opportunities we have to offer. But the overemphasis on Silicon Valley leads people to think if they can’t work for one of the big brand name firms, why bother?”

Closing the Confidence Gap

Thibodeaux also said that a confidence gap, not a skills gap, is what keeps people of color and women from joining the tech workforce. With the right opportunities and training they can handle the work, but they lack the confidence to try.

“The driving reason capable professionals don’t pursue careers in tech is due to lack of career information,” he said. “People learn about jobs primarily from other people, and if you’re not exposed to them you’re flying blind.”

Thibodeaux outlined a five-step plan that companies can implement immediately to diversify the makeup of their workforce.

  1. Focus on and correct unconscious biases in recruiting and hiring processes.
  2. Prioritize diversity and inclusion as a priority by setting measurable goals and investing resources in the effort.
  3. Expand the prospect pipeline by recruiting non-traditional candidates, partnering with diversity groups and making diversity a part of the company brand.
  4. Examine workplace culture to make it inclusive, to take steps if it isn’t and to ask for help if it’s needed.
  5. Become a mentor and connect with a wider audience.

Thibodeaux challenged ChannelCon attendees to invite three people from a different gender or ethnic background to their LinkedIn network by the end of the conference.

“Diversity isn’t just about the color of your skin or your gender,” Thibodeaux said. “True diversity comes from engaging people from different socioeconomic backgrounds; from different parts of the world or country; and from different work and life experiences. It’s gathering and utilizing a wide variety of opinions and ideas.”

CompTIA: Building the Foundation for Technology's Future
The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is the world's leading technology association, with approximately 2,000 member companies, 3,000 academic and training partners, over 100,000 registered users and more than two million IT certifications issued. CompTIA's unparalleled range of programs foster workforce skills development and generate critical knowledge and insight, building the foundation for technology’s future. Visit CompTIA online, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to learn more. 

Steven Ostrowski