To be or not to be, diverse

Part of my effort and purpose for writing this blog is to inspire and encourage other blacks to consider a career in I.T. and for those who are currently in I.T. to stick with it and continue to raise the bar to higher heights for their careers and those behind us.

Over the last few years, Silcone Valley and major high-tech companies have been crticize, rightfully so – in my opinion, in the lack of effort to hire ‘minorities’.  Well, I want to be specific, since ‘minorities’ is such a vague word.  Women and Asians have gained marginal success in establishing a positive identity and a reserved seat in the high-tech arena.   On the other hand, Hispanics and in particularly Blacks have been left out.  Without getting into finger pointing, or statstical analysis. I want to give a nod to Intel who recently announced their commitment to putting their money where there mouth is, and they have decided to allocate $300 million towards workplace diversity.  Again, I personally prefer to look at the real problematic area(s), and not allow a vague term to dilute the issue.

I personally think, there’s a few things that high-tech firms can do to make their workplaces diverse and welcome

1. Use your strengths.  As a high-tech firm, typically you have access to big data. Learn the trends of the targeted group. Where is the disconnect? How can you utilize Culture to attract ‘diversity’ in your workplace? Do you celebrate and acknowledge Diversity routinely? Do you provide a platform for Diverse thoughts and opinions?  Placing a Black or Hispanic in an IT workplace where they don’t thrive or their identity is forced to mimic the identity of the majority is not a successful attempt at diversity.

2. Start Early. During college, I found that many of classmates had been programming for years – therefore I was at a great disadvantage in comparison to my understanding of the abstract concepts that they were able to demonstrate naturally.  So implementing programs with Youth and Teens is vital to building diversity.  Don’t be afraid to go into the predominately Black or Hispanic schools and establish a program, that is led by Black or Hispanic I.T. professionals that have a demonstrated understanding of the social-economic conditions that the youth live in to spearhead a project to expose the targeted group early to the high-tech arena. Carlton (From Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) working with Crenshaw High kids has a low chance of being successful – IJS.

2. Recruit Talent. Make a tangible and measurable effort to recruit talent from all valleys and peaks.  Recruiting from Tier-1 schools is great, but recruiting from the lesser known schools, particularly schools that represent the targeted demographic (such as HBCUs) is a great piece to the puzzle.  Recruit talent from other companies, where individuals may have increased their experience and may be situated for a lead or management role.  Utilize organizations that are geared towards the targeted demographic (such as Urban League,  NSBE, Black MBA, NBITLO, Black Enterprise, etc.) Recruit those that may not be the superstar talent or superior student but has a great passion for technology and strong desire to learn and become better.

4. Location. Location. Location. Yes Cali has great weather (some areas are better than others).  But Cali may not be the beacon for diversity. Diversity may also mean expanding your office locations where the desired demographic doesn’t lose a part of their culture by taking a job offer where they’re the only representative in that community.  Blacks are heavily populated in certain regions, states, and metropolitan areas.  Having a satellite office in that city may be a great way to make the workplace environment pleasant by riding the coat-tail of an area that represents a diverse culture.  Moving to the suburbs are nice, but maybe rehabbing an abandoned building that doesn’t present a horrible commute for the targeted demographic is a good idea too. Consider proximity to public transportation and low to mid (moderate) income housing areas.

5. Supplier Diversity works too. Sometimes you may not just be able to meet your goal in the way that you desire.  But there’s usually another way to look at the problem and address it as well.  Supplier/Vendor Diversity is a possible way to address Diversity workplaces.  True, the vendor or supplier isn’t technically on staff, but you’re empowering a business owner to empower there staff by awarding them a contract.  Sometimes, diversity may not be able to be achieved completely in a desired way – but by looking at broader picture of employing and providing experience to those who seek experience and employment opportunities with a high-tech company, you are achieving it via Supplier Diversity as well.

“I got a hunger for knowledge & I miss no meals”  – Oddisee – Own Appeal