Stories from some of technology’s most successful leaders have a common theme: diversity drives success in business. The research backs this up. Above average profits are 21% more likely in gender-diverse workplaces. If you want to outperform your competitors, having a culturally and ethnically diverse workforce increases your odds by 33%. The question is how to build a diverse culture and do so in a way that is meaningful and impactful.
Inclusion is the result of a lot of hard work. In next month’s TAG Tech Talks episode, releasing on March 1st, I had the opportunity to speak with TAG Board Member, Brian Benn, who states, “What we have always understood is that education was the great equalizer, but as we come into this 21st century, what we also understand is that technology is part and parcel to that.” In his role as CIO & SVP for the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA), Brian has championed using technology to level the playing field for individuals in underserved communities. By providing connectivity, devices, and training to participants in affordable housing programs, Brian and AHA are developing a diverse and upwardly mobile workforce for the technology industry to draw on. In tandem with the resources described in last week’s Friday Feature, the AHA’s programs have strengthened and bolstered Georgia’s talent pipeline. The talent is here.
The next step is getting that diverse talent in the door. Technology advancements and increased sophistication of data analytics offer new approaches to cultivating a diverse environment in the workplace. Artificial Intelligence (AI) software can be utilized to both screen applications to filter the top candidates while ignoring demographic information that could lead to bias and can screen job postings for potential exclusionary language, which can inadvertently reduce the number and diversity of applicants. Intelligent Automation is an exciting technology that can be leveraged by HR departments to analyze benefits and compensation packages. Such analysis can help companies identify discrepancies and patterns to address gender and racial wage gaps.
Another way to develop a diverse and innovative team is to use Phyllis Newhouse’s approach to hiring. In December’s TAG Tech Talks episode, Phyllis talked about “taking the interview out” and letting the candidate pitch what their best asset is to the company. By allowing a job candidate lead with what they can bring to a company, the door is immediately opened for innovative ideas and as Phyllis says, “you will get a diverse culture unintentionally.” Listen to the TAG Tech talks episode in full HERE.
But as with many things, change must come from the top. Executives need to believe in the benefits of diversity and have the courage to not just listen, but to implement the ideas that diversity brings to the table. At Converge 2020, Ralph de la Vega shared an impressive story of how taking a risk by putting a 22-year-old woman in charge of a newly-created youth segment was such an incredible success, that the lesson learned ultimately led to AT&T having the largest market share in the Hispanic segment, Asian segment, and African American segment for post-paid wireless in the US. That lesson: “Have people from the segment, lead the segment.” It is necessary that organizations look beyond the numbers and empower a diverse leadership team to fully realize the benefits and innovativeness of an inclusive workforce.
Have a great weekend,
Larry K. Williams
President & CEO, Technology Association of Georgia (TAG)