If it's Broke, Fix It: Solutions For Building a Diverse Workforce

WITI News Staff

May 26, 2019

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If it's Broke, Fix It: Solutions For Building a Diverse Workforce


Activists point out that many industries have failed to address diversity concerns. The TV, movie, sports, and publishing industries all fall short of the ideal. But nowhere is the lack of gender diversity more apparent in the technology sector, where the overwhelming number of workers are male.

But it's not just the workforce participation problem that is concerning in the tech sector: it's the fact that technology is a central part of all our lives, comprising a vast proportion of the economy. Technology stocks now make up more than 25 percent of total public equity market capitalization, nearly twice a decade ago.

No one particular social group, in our view, should have full control over a such as vast and increasingly crucial societal resources: there needs to be the involvement of many other groups; otherwise, there's a risk that disparities between gender, race, and class may grow. Currently, men hold 76 percent of technical jobs, and more than 95 percent of the tech workforce is white.

The reach of tech companies is vast. Google and Facebook control nearly half of all advertising spend in the US; Amazon is fast becoming a ubiquitous online retail monopoly. And media companies, such as Netflix, have taken entertainment digital and into the cloud.

Together, these developments have led to an increasing concentration of power in the hands of a few giant tech companies who have become “platform monopolies” with immense market power. Google controls 90 percent of organic search advertising. Facebook has more user accounts than any other social network by an order of magnitude. And Microsoft and Amazon are both building out server networks that will eventually contain most of the world's data. The power in these companies' hands is extraordinary.

The Solutions To Workplace Diversity

Last year WITI conducted a survey of Women in Tech, focusing on a range of issues including the unconscious bias, parity, career aspirations, and what company leadership can do for female career empowerment. In 2019, we are continuing to search for solutions and will be conducting another survey in partnership with analyst firm International Data Corporation (IDC).

Companies need to solve the diversity issue, not just for social reasons, but for economic reasons too. Data from NCWIT suggests that companies that have women on their boards are likely to outperform those with all-male executive structures.

The solutions to workplace diversity are complex. We believe that there are both internal and external factors preventing women from entering the technology industry. Internal factors include workplace discrimination and a lack of women-friendly cultures in some companies. External variables are broader factors that determine why women do not apply for technical jobs in the same quantities as men, and why they might not feel like they should.

What is clear is that when companies involve more women at both junior and senior levels, they tend to perform better in the long term. More diverse companies can derive ideas from a broader spectrum of backgrounds, boosting their competitive advantage.

If you want to participate in this year's WITI survey, go to https://witi.com/survey.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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