Diversity, Inclusion & the Data
When we talk about the data, we also have to talk about the challenges the data creates. Companies want a quick fix: identify problem, fix problem. It’s in their DNA. But the challenge here is that the pool of diverse candidates is limited. That means you have to recognize the data as it is, not as you want it to be. You can’t decide you want 20 percent more female engineers on your team when there aren’t enough female engineers graduating from engineering school to reach that number. Said differently, this is a three- to five-year problem, and it’s about investing in the long fix.
Diversity, Inclusion & What the Market Leaders Are Doing
Approaches to enhancing diversity and inclusion have been piecemeal before now; but whatever we do now has to include addressing systemic issues. For example, one approach involves forming relationships with HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) and minority associations to develop internship programs. And as big companies tend to address these things first, it’s no surprise that organizations such as Lyft, Google, and Facebook are taking the lead in implementing these strategies.
Lyft has developed an inclusion and diversity framework comprised of the categories Attract, Select, Develop and Retain. Under Attract, their focus, among other things, is broadening their recruiting pipeline by “building relationships with universities and organizations that support underrepresented groups.” Those groups include: Lesbians Who Tech, Tapia Conference and the National Society of Black Engineers.
Facebook focuses on providing training opportunities for students to build on their experiences in school. These opportunities include programs such as Crush Your Coding Interview, the Facebook University Training Program, and Engineer in Residence at HBCUs.
And Google wants students to form a long-term interest in tech and concentrates on connecting with them early. However, they know that not all students have access or exposure to STEM in primary or high school, and in the company’s words, “We support programs that get kids of all backgrounds excited about technology and its possibilities.” These programs include Black Girls Code and Code Next.
Diversity, Inclusion & Trends
These efforts take work and investment. To be successful also requires companies to not get caught up in the trends. There’s definitely an industry push towards using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to avoid unconscious bias by screening for demographic information in resumes. But we want to focus on balancing the promise of tech interventions with inclusion strategies we can start investing in now. Otherwise, focusing on AI is just another form of white noise distracting us from the job at hand and the work that needs to be done, especially in the STEM space. Like Google, we need to start with exposure long before students get to college. Years before they typically begin mentoring and internship programs and well before they’re in a position to submit their resumes in the first place. The caveat, however, is that for this to work, it’s going to take a concerted, grassroots approach to drive change.
Diversity, Inclusion & Unconscious Bias
Addressing unconscious bias in recruiting is another strategy, and trend, organizations are focusing on and one we’re looking at as well. But remember: bias is everywhere, and while we understand that the public chooses to see “bias” as a bad word, we can’t deny that biases exist. Instead, by admitting that we all have biases, we can learn to capitalize on our differences.
We see this as being “consciously inclusive”, and we believe it leads to diversity of thought, which ultimately encompasses everything we’ve talked about here. We’re all different, and when you look for diversity of thought, you find diversity.