The issue of diversity in the tech world
When Ayanna Howard walked into her office on the first day of her role as the leader of a NASA robotics team, she was greeted by a man who informed her that the secretaries weren’t in that room. She was told that they had moved their meeting further along down the hall. To give credit where credit is due, she simply responded by greeting him, introducing herself, and informing him politely that he was working underneath her for the duration of the project.
Despite her qualifications, the fact that Howard was a black woman had caused the man to assume she was not as educated as he, and she reported that she couldn’t help but feel chagrined by the immediate supposition that she didn’t belong there.
Herewith are some ways in which founders can start dealing with this issue of diversity in 2018, whether operating a CAD casino, a blue chip company or in any tech environment .
Have Diversity as a Starting Point
Sarah Kunst, founder of Proday, has recommended thinking of diversity right from the beginning, using the mirror rule. This entails your making sure that the people you bring on, from employees through to service providers, don’t all look like you all the time.
Kunst states that empowering your teams with the mirror rule means that they are mildly and more easily assured that increasingly diverse and inclusive groups are being established across all the company’s touch points.
Address Unconscious Bias When Hiring
Another bias is the prioritisation of exclusive engineering schools as recruitment pools. Duolingo, the language learning app, altered their recruitment processes in order to achieve a gender ratio of 50:50 for their new software engineer employment. As well as building partnerships with organisations that are inclusive, they further took an approach driven by data, prioritising recruiting from schools that had more than 18% of women undergraduate computer science majors.
A Range of End User Representation
Organisations are able to untap a deeper understanding of consumer needs with increasingly diverse engineering teams. In order to make sure that services and products have wider appeal, founders should get input from individuals who reflect a fuller range of end users.
Fei-Fei Li, the chief scientist for Google’s Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, stated quite correctly that if women and people of colour are not at the table in the form of real technologists doing the actual work required, systems will be biased. Undoing this prejudice at a later stage would be near impossible, too and the time for people’s perspectives to change is now.
Building for the range of your consumer population is also helpful when it comes to avoiding accusations of partiality and the ensuing embarrassment this will cause -just ask Apple. When its facial recognition feature had difficulty processing Asian and black faces, it had to deal with the ensuing charges of racism.
Track Promotions and Encourage Them
The process of promotion at the majority of companies rewards those who promote themselves. This system needs to be changed. Suggestions for doing this include individually encouraging women and minorities that are under-represented to go in for available promotions, and trusting that these people are far less likely to put themselves forward. Founders should thus put in the extra work in order to encourage them to more actively pursue promotion packages.