Author – Steve McIntosh – Technology Executive
It’s no secret that the vast majority of people who work at technology companies are men. Unfortunately, this is a serious problem that impacts these technology company’s ability to succeed in an increasingly diverse economic world.
Today most technology companies are only getting the benefit of a single point of view. This not only breeds a lot of “group think,” it can also make it hard for the team as a whole to truly understand many of the members of the companies’ target audiences.
In contrast, when you diversify your workforce you get a diversity of thought, which is especially important when you consider that innovation is the life blood of most technology companies. Increasing diversity in technology companies means getting people on the team who have a better understanding of the needs and values of the diverse members of the target audience. It also means getting team members who may take a different approach and have a different way of thinking about problems, both of which can lead the group to completely new solutions. These innovative solutions can lead to greater efficiencies and possibly attract new and potentially different customers, opening up new markets and revenue streams for the organization.
In sum, diversity in technology simply makes good business sense.
I keep reading about how increasing diversity in technology companies is so incredibly difficult because there’s such a small pool of women and minorities who are qualified for these technical jobs. What everyone seems to be overlooking is that a large number of the jobs at technology organizations are not technical at all. For many firms, increasing diversity in these positions can be a great first step towards increasing diversity throughout the firm.
Remember, you don’t need to be a technologist to work at a technology company. Technology companies also need people in operations, finance, human resources, marketing, sales, social media and so forth. To be successful in these jobs you need to understand the product, but you don’t need to program the product.
Even within the IT department, there are plenty of opportunities for non-technologists. I’ve managed technology organizations. I had people working for me who did the coding. But the people who did the project management didn’t do the coding, and neither did the quality assurance people or any of the folks who worked on the infrastructure side.
Of course, ideally minorities and women will join the coding team, too, as well as other departments and teams throughout the organization. But while we’re working towards that goal, we also need to keep in mind that hiring coders who are women and minorities is not the only way to increase diversity in technology companies.