The Difference Between Diversity And Inclusion In Tech

Posted on August 26, 2019 by BWBacon. Tagged: Resources for Candidates, For Candidates, Resources for Entrepreneurs, For Clients

This one is close to our hearts. We've have talked with over 35,000 tech professionals throughout the life of BWBacon and too many times today we see companies focusing on diversity statistics without the necessary equal weight on the teams feeling of inclusion as a whole. Sometimes it's easy to even forget that there is a major difference between diversity and inclusion in tech. "If my company is diverse, it is also inclusive." This could not be further from the truth.

Diversity is the mix of people within a group, organization and the elements that differentiate them from each other inclusion is the extent to which the mix of individuals/people feel a sense of belonging.

Just because a company is statistically diverse does not mean it is inclusive. Let's take a look at women in tech for a second:

Even though there have been more groups representing women in tech in the recent past, the reality is that the ratio of women in computing technologies has dropped from its high in 1991 at roughly 36% down to 25% in the present day. Many tech companies boast about how many women they have working there. But talk is cheap. Women today have a 56% attrition rate in technology professions compared to 17% for men. In the workplace, the numbers are fuzzy depending on who you ask but women get interrupted somewhere between 5-10X more than men. Women still make on average $16,000 less in tech than their male counterparts.

These numbers do not scream, "I feel included in this environment." Their time and input are Hijacked -- it's well documented that women who speak up seem like complainers, whereas men seem like champions. And much of the rhetoric that exists out there still puts the onus on the women to fix her behavior, versus demanding the opposition change their bad behavior.

There is this one crazy story that stands out in my mind as the perfect representation of how ingrained these issues are for women in the technology world. At SXSW, Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt was actually publicly called out by an audience member for interrupting a co-panelist US CTO Megan Smith repeatedly during the discussion. The topic of their discussion? Diversity in the workplace. It's almost like some sick joke.

The Focus Moving Forward For Diversity And Inclusion In Tech

We need to find ways to focus on the experience of the people working in tech, not the stats and quotas. Diversity should not be thought of separately from inclusion, they are two sides of the same coin that should be a core part of a company's mission. If we embrace the facts that diversity increases financial performance and employee engagement, it becomes obvious that we should be integrating tenants of diversity directly into the mission of the company. Too many missions of tech companies focus only on the product they can create as the vessel of change and not how or who they hire as a catalyst to elevate our society.

Also, sadly no company is immune to unconscious bias. As we talked about in this post, recruiting team members will unconsciously bias candidates because of three very common human thought-processing flaws; similarity attraction, confirmation bias, and the halo effect. We have to find ways to overcome these human instinctual flaws to empower the changes and make our companies and society better. I'll leave you with this thought from diversity and inclusion thought leader, Denise Hummel who said, "Inclusion is a lever for business results." Here is her very practical thinking on the need for change in this space:

“If you look at tech and pharma … it is ‘innovate or die,’ she said. “If fifty-six percent of the talent pool, which are women, are not being activated and that diverse ideation isn’t being acted upon, it’s just common sense that those companies will be left behind.

Think about it!

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