Trips to Mars by 2019, GenZ’s unremarkable buying power supersedes Millennials, and Autonomous Vehicles being the next wave in transportation are just a few key takeaways we’ve discovered from the first few days of SXSW 2018 in Austin.
Beyond all of these, one critical topic has taken centre stage throughout this year’s festival across various panel sessions: The #TimesUp campaign and the impact it has across the tech industry in pushing for more diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
As Melinda Gates said in her Interactive Keynote ‘The Company We Keep’ over the weekend: ‘Women and minorities must lead a radical redesign in how we lead this country and the workplace’.
That overarching message has continually been echoed among other panel sessions including Mastercard and the NYC Mayor Office’s Making Tech Work For People as well as HBCU@SXSW’s Solutions for Hiring Top Minority Talent, with interesting insight from leading tech women like Cogeco Peer 1’s VP and General Manager for US & LATAM, Cindy Jordan-Ford.
Cindy shared some of her thoughts with us below:
Being Diverse Makes Us Stronger: A Better Company Starts with Inclusion in the Workplace
Diversity and inclusion have been an important topic for many years but is something that numerous businesses have only recently started to take seriously. Even with the founding of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1965, the number of minorities in professional roles are diminutive.
The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics assert that on average just 20 per cent of professional workers are considered part of a minority group. The technology market specifically only has a workforce of 27.4 per cent of women and 5.8 per cent of African Americans working in computer system design. Furthermore, just 7.4 per cent of scientific research and development employees are Hispanic.
The benefits of diversity and inclusion are plentiful. For starters, it is the right thing to do as a good corporate citizen. Having diverse teams with people of varied genders, ethnicities, ages, backgrounds, and sexual orientation results in greater workplace morale, collaboration, innovative thinking, connections with customers, and employee bonding.
Financially, incorporating an inclusive workforce into your organisation’s culture can significantly impact your bottom line. According to Harvard Business Review, it was found that organisations that hire diverse individuals are 45 per cent likelier to state that their firm’s market share increased over the previous year and 70 per cent more inclined to indicate that they obtained a new market.
Consulting establishment McKinsey & Company discovered that in the UK, earnings grew by 3.5 per cent for every 10 per cent increase in senior executive team gender diversity. And, the American Sociological Review published their findings that diversity is directly connected to increased sales revenue and higher profits.
Major tech giants, like Apple and Google, have recently made bold attempts to boost their diversity, with Google promising to spend $150 million on these initiatives. However, every firm, large and small, needs to make more of an effort to be devoted to diversity. So, what can businesses do to enhance their inclusion endeavours?
Form Strategic Partnerships
There are organisations that are specifically formed to encourage innovative thought and diversity. By forming an alliance with these groups and their leaders, a business can demonstrate their desire to work on their diversity policies and prove that they hold these ideas as a priority.
For example, Cogeco Peer 1 is collaborating during SXSW (March 9-18, 2018) with Opportunity Hub, a definitive authentic inclusive innovation, entrepreneurship, and investment ecosystem building platform. The purpose of the partnership is to find ways that undergraduate minority students would be interested in leveraging career opportunities in the tech field.
Make Your Stance Known
If diversity programs are of importance to a business, that organisation must find ways to get the word out. If it is known that hiring talent from every background is encouraged, then minority applicants will seek out that company
It is one thing to say you want to do something about diversity, but it is another to initiate it. Proceeding with these plans include finding qualified talent and offering tech intern opportunities to minority students, fostering beneficial connections with established minority groups, working with entry-level career headhunters, and attending various job fairs.
Firms can also implement change by starting formal mentoring programs and educating the workforce on the benefits of having a more inclusive team. While large scale, global change is needed, companies can act now to enhance diversity in their workplaces.
If there's EVER a function where you need to get the overhead projector or Powerpoint to work it's Women Leading Tech!
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