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Readers talk tech diversity in wake of Intel report

A recent diversity report by Intel shows the chip maker is making strides towards a more inclusive workplace, but there’s still a lot of work to be done — and both Intel and the rest of the world know it. The real question is: what happens now?

After a Searchlight column exploring what Intel’s report says about tech diversity, SearchCIO readers were quick to give their own thoughts on why diversity numbers are so low in tech companies and what can be done to change it.

They start with the sad truth.

“Except for a few specific jobs, most applicants we see are white males,” Norman C. Berns, CEO and creative director at ReelGrok writes. “When beginning a project there’s usually time to search for more diversity, but in the throes of production, we need to act immediately. Our choices are overwhelmingly white males because they’ve been given greater opportunities, have amassed more experience and odds are good their supervisor will be a white male too. Sad to say, there are very few people of color and even fewer people who are physically challenged.”

Mike Corum, a test manager in the technology field, is similarly tired of the overwhelming presence of white males in IT positions and counts both time crunches and pressure from the human resource department as contributing factors.

“[Lack of women and minority candidates] has been a problem I’ve faced for years – nearly all of the resumes that I received would be from white males,” Corum writes. “Combine that with pressure from HR to fill an opening as quickly as possible, and you don’t have much opportunity to improve diversity.”

Safia Boot, HR and employee relations specialist, also points to HR as a reason for the lack of diverse hires.

“The lack of diversity in HR departments makes them poor role models,” Boot writes. “As a result they miss some very low-cost opportunities to make everyday changes to systems, processes and culture that would have a huge impact on the working lives of underrepresented groups to both attract and retain.”

Until the HR department changes their candidate profiling and hiring practices, then the rest of the organization will continue to move slowly on the issue, Boot notes.

Identifying the problems with the current tech environment is one thing, properly addressing them is another. Corum gives three suggestions for tackling the tech diversity issue.

“I think it needs to be addressed at the educational level,” he writes. “First, we need to educate non-IT people so they know that IT is more than servers and the help desk. Second, we need to start training children at an early age, and forget the ‘males do this’ and ‘females do that’ dichotomy. Third — and this one can really make a difference — recruit more women and minorities. Some of the best IT people I’ve worked with were women that were recruited from other areas of the company.”

What steps do you think need to be taken in order to fix the issue of tech diversity? Sound off below!

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great roundup. relevant not just broadly across tech, but in specific fields like information security. one person I spoke with here at RSA who works for the security team for the local government immediately brought up the lack of women when I asked her about the security talent shortage.
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Consulting with under-represented groups to find out the simple everyday ways to improve their inclusion would be a great starting point. Setting specfic individual diversity objectives into everyone's appraisal is also key otherwise there is no focus and accountability.Consulting the homogenous group to help them see diversity applies to them too as we are unique and different in more ways than gender/race. We need to see things like equal pay as a family issue not a women's, work-life-balance as gender-free and diversity as a solution to skills shortage. There is a growing evidence thst increased innovation comes through creatively harnessing all sources of talent. Thanks for a thoughtful overview, Brian
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