There’s a lot of talk about the “pipeline” as the root cause for technology’s lack of diversity—the idea that women and minorities aren’t seeking out relevant education, therefore they cannot be hired for technical or executive jobs.
This ignores the fact that the lack of diversity in non-technical roles like administration and sales mirrors a shortfall in technical positions in Silicon Valley. Further evidence shows that current diverse candidates graduating with technical degrees are still not seeing the wealth of opportunities that the technology industry promises.
As Elizabeth Weise and Jessica Guynn of USA TODAY pointed out last fall: On average, just 2% of technology workers at seven Silicon Valley companies that have released staffing numbers are black; 3% are Hispanic.
But last year, 4.5% of all new recipients of bachelor’s degrees in computer science or computer engineering from prestigious research universities were African American, and 6.5% were Hispanic, according to data from the Computing Research Association.
I might work with computers for a living, but I’m pretty sure a pipeline only works when it’s used at both ends.
Let’s make something clear—when we talk about roadblocks to diversity today, rarely are we pointing to overt bias and discrimination. The issues plaguing Silicon Valley are often subtle practices and biases that snowball into a major imbalance. But I truly believe it’s not hard to commit to diversity.
Any expenses to implement better practices will pale in comparison to the long-term financial gain—that is, if simply committing to diversity because it’s the right thing to do isn’t enough.
If you’re a CEO, hiring manager, or decision maker at your company and you’d like to do your part, here are three ways to get serious about diversity.
END EMPLOYEE REFERRAL PROGRAMS
By doing this, you’re instantly considering a more diverse pool of applicants.
This is especially important if you offer a bonus to employees for referrals. Take those funds and cover relocation expenses for new hires. If you already reimburse moving costs, now you’re saving money!
Current employees who enjoy the bonus might not like this change. The good news is that diverse teams perform better, so you can give those well-performing teams a year-end bonus instead.
You could also find better ways to improve employee life by diverting that money into programs for a quality family leave policy and flexible paid time off.
Read the rest of this article by Andy Newman on USA TODAY here.