Addressing Diversity in Tech Should Go Beyond Gender

Addressing Diversity in Tech Should Go Beyond Gender

I commend companies for continuing the diversity discussion within the Venture Capital and Technology communities. It takes courage and self reflection to publicly admit that you are not currently where you need to be. However, I believe companies could be even more proactive.

A recent KPCB report broke down the company’s employee gender diversity but omitted ethnicity data. A note at the bottom of the report read, “We plan to add ethnicity data to this page in time.”

By only addressing gender diversity, many companies are avoiding a more difficult question: What about ethnic diversity (Black, Hispanic/Latino, Native American)? Addressing this issue is essential, because it is where the largest employment gap lies. At many technology companies, few employees are women, but even fewer are Latino or African-American. Companies could be trailblazers by recognizing the minority employment gap and advance the conversation by announcing a plan to improve workforce diversity.

There may not be one individual solution for the lack of diversity, however, there are several tactics I believe companies can use to improve their numbers due to the highly qualified and available minority candidates for every role.

First of all, companies should open up the interviewing process. In the current state, many individuals are hired by friends and acquaintances. This creates extremely few pipelines for recruiters to find highly qualified diverse candidates.

Secondly, companies could institute a rule similar to the NFL’s Rooney Rule. The Rooney Rule, introduced by the NFL in 2003, requires teams to interview minorities during searches for new head coaches and general managers. Facebook recently announced that it is testing a similar approach to hiring that resembles the NFL’s “Rooney Rule” as part of the social network’s efforts to diversify its employee ranks.

Studies by Forbes, McKinsey and Harvard Business School have proven that diversity of perspectives, experiences, cultures, genders, and age are essential to the growth and prosperity of any company. But in order to improve diversity metrics, companies have to get uncomfortable. They cannot only outline the areas where numbers are improving, but they have to acknowledge where it is that they are lacking the most. Many companies have contributed to the conversation, but I believe they must highlight the ethnic minority gap in addition to the gender disparity to create a pathway for a more diverse workforce.


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