Why tech companies need diversity to survive and thrive.
Black tech employees make up only 2.5% of Silicon Valley employees yet culturally are one of the highest consumers of technology. Compared to white employees who make up 57% of all employees in Silicon Valley. People of color and women especially who architect code for tech companies should profit from their creativity and not be overshadowed by limitations of a quote on quote diverse tech pipeline problem.
Whether it is cultural disconnect, limited access or discriminatory hiring practices the lack of black professionals in the tech space is a big problem and here is why. It goes beyond Silicon Valley hiring people from more diverse demographics to solve the issue. Some tech companies believe diversity means more color in the workspace will fix morality and affirmative action metrics. Diversity is bigger than the skin color of the employed its accessibility against things like ageism, economic equity, automation, racism so on and so on. What true diversity will require for change is the tech industry seeing the value in what African Americans and Latino Americans can bring to the table in the aspects of problem-solving, professionalism and entrepreneurship in technology instead of solely from a consumer aspect. Technology that lacks diverse input in its algorithms or operating systems becomes bias before it is rendered. That tech bias affects African American and Latino American society more than other demographics for obvious reasons due to the basis of what America’s racial history was built on. Hired, a tech startup that specializes in helping companies find talented candidates, said that the average black software engineer on its service is 49% more likely to get hired than a white person. Those candidates, however, typically make $10,000 less per year than their white counterparts, according to Hired's "2017 State of Global Tech Salaries" report.
We control the cool in technology.
African Americans think Twitter is cool because of Black Twitter, Instagram and Youtube receive a lot of traffic because of diverse creatives, entertainers, and followers that push the culture forward both negatively and positively. In the midst of ICE raids,DACA, and instability in Latin America technology prevails. Latinos think Facebook is dope because of the family connection. Aunties, abuela’s and uncles reach out from overseas countries creating a virtual family dynamic since the social media platform moved past just a place for university students to connect. The list could go on and on how diverse demographics have contributed to the face of tasteful culture in America since its inception and technology is no different. Hip-Hop is quickly being fused into technology everyday and Hip-Hop runs the culture. They have Elon Musk and we have tech superstars like Iddris Sandu. Sadly, the ethnic demographic hardly gets a fair shake on things they help create and deserve to not only consume technology as rented space but profit monetarily, amass ownership and gain opportunities of employment as well.
Diversity increases productivity at tech companies especially when they hire women from diverse back grounds.
According to Forbes “Not only is diversity morally important, it’s also useful. The National Center for Women & Information Technology conducted a study of 2,360 communities in multiple industries and found that “companies with women on their executive boards outperformed companies with all-male executive boards. What made the iPhone, for example, unique and a game-changer in technology was the fact its iOS software was open source and diverse. Three devices in one. Which included a cellular phone, iPod music player and internet device. Meaning anyone could contribute to adding applications to Apple’s platform. That made the creator Steve Jobs a groundbreaker and innovator but he was still white, male and in a position of privilege. Diverse groups who code should start looking at themselves like the iPhone or better yet the iOS software that drives the culture. Now imagine how much innovation could stem from women of color who are single mothers raising a family or as ethnic entrepreneurs building their platforms. True, no one can escape the vicissitudes of life and we must all adapt but for people of diverse backgrounds, it is that much harder. They cannot just accept being stuck with problems in their lives they must thrive and survive. These tasks are not easy especially for women and require a certain level of problem-solving so for the ones that do it and do it well so much of that diverse talent could contribute to the next groundbreaking technology but that talent is still having a hard time becoming visible.
What is the BTPipeline? The three interesting questions I asked Pariss Athena.
Black Tech Pipeline started with one tweet from one developer by the name of Paris Chandler an Afro Latina that created a platform to help black men and women working in all different sectors of the tech industry. The platform really began to take traction after exposing the pipeline problem and lack of diverse employment within the FAANG companies through its thousands of members who are mainly African American with a wide array of skillsets ranging from cyber security analysts, cryptocurrency experts, web and mobile app developers, and CEO’s. The platform is extremely informative for those looking for anything from personal journeys and experiences into tech / roles, being black in the workplace and advice from experts on: creating a startup, building a brand, networking, investing and real estate.
FAANG Defined: Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google.
#BlackTechPipeline’s purpose is to bring exposure to the skilled and talented people of underserved ethnic backgrounds, empower black people in/pursuing the tech industry and to bring awareness to the lack of black and brown faces in tech. I’m no stranger to a lot of the experiences #BlackTechPipeline speaks about and the audience it speaks to. I’m an African American first generation aspiring developer by way of a Ghanian father and a Barbadian mother looking to get into an industry that traditionally would not hire someone like me. I am interested in being involved in the digital revolution so using platforms like BlackTechPipeline as a resource was a no brainer. Also, if you are lucky enough to live in the greater Boston area distinct students, that have no technical experience but are hungry to learn. Coding camps like Resilient coders is a great program for diverse students interesting in computer science but come from untraditional backgrounds. They are many resources for diverse technologists to get their feet wet in the industry whether it’s for a career change or connecting and networking with a demographic in the tech world that looks more like the minority. BlackTechPipeline, CodeNewbie , Blacksintechnology.net and Resilient Coders in my opinion should be the first places to start looking.
I briefly got the opportunity to interview BlackTechPipeline’s Founder Paris Chandler and ask her three questions she faced working in the tech industry as a women of color.
- Do you feel women of color in tech get treated differently based on having light skin vs dark skin. Does it effect being hired or gaining a promotion?
Working on teams without diversity limits the potential of the product and company as a whole. A product being built by men, but being sold to consumers of all genders, is inevitably a product for men only. Without the perception and input from women, how could your product be useful to those who were never represented in the room while it was being built? It’ll lack the important implementations necessary to be considered inclusive.
2. How imperative is it to work on a diverse team in an industry dominated by men.
I absolutely believe your skin tone changes the way you are perceived, treated, and limits opportunities. This is true for life itself, not just in the workplace. Companies will hire the whitest passing diverse candidate and feel that they can rest well at night. The lighter the candidate, the more trust these leaders in the workplace have in them. The darker the candidate, the less trust they have in them and it shows. With less trust comes less opportunities, more micromanaging, more questioning, and incentive to be fired or have the candidate quit out of frustration.
3. We see more women of color taking initiative in terms of tech entrepreneurship and created startups. How important is learning a coding language that by default are culturally biased versus focusing on created your own companies, services and applications.
I think gaining a technological skill set is extremely important today. We’re in a technology driven world, that is also a threat to us with jobs that can easily be automated. Our community would be one of the first to be left behind, so to avoid that, gaining a skill is of the utmost importance. It’s basically like, “If you can’t beat em’, join em’.” Learn the skills that are in demand so that if it ever comes down to it, you can build things yourself. And the beauty of knowing how to program is that you can build a product worth selling. There is so much potential in programming because it’s a skill that can turn into a conglomerate of a business. Not only do you build wealth, but you create sustainability and security for yourself and your dependents. Once you gain this skill set, you can go off and build your own table instead of looking for a seat at one.
Please checkout #BlackTechPipelne at https://www.blacktechpipeline.com