Diversity is an issue that business leaders discuss at length but often fail to take real action on. Within IT, the lack of diversity is an ongoing problem for both individuals and organizations. Research shows that companies with greater diversity demonstrate increased financial performance and innovation – yet women and people of color still remain largely underrepresented in IT positions.
When the InformationWeek/Interop 2019 State of IT Report asked IT executives to specify the “three most important concepts related to IT success” in their organization, only 9% cited “diversity.” The top two responses were “project management” (53%) and “innovation” (50%).
James M. Connolly, editorial director of InformationWeek, wrote an analysis of the report, points out that a diverse team is crucial to solving business problems – including driving innovation, creating new products and services, and developing better user experience (UX) or customer experience (CX). Connolly argues that prioritizing diversity is both a smart business decision and the right thing to do because:
- Diversity is key to solving challenges like the tech skills gap.
- An IT team with people representing different backgrounds and life experiences is an asset that can lead to innovative ideas. Diverse team members can offer valuable perspectives that can shape products or services for wide-ranging audiences.
- AI and machine learning require training data that represents the population the product will serve. Connolly writes: “Otherwise the project could end up as a horror story along the lines of the biased facial recognition software that can’t accurately identify dark faces, or the customer incentive software that skews to a suburban male audience.”
- It’s time for companies to treat people fairly and “walk the walk” when it comes to hiring, promoting, and compensating a diverse workforce.
Business leaders who want to gain a competitive edge, while staying true to their values, should commit to improving diversity in their organizations. A simple step in the right direction is to partner with a professional training program that attracts diverse skilled talent.
York Solutions’ Barriers to Entry (B2E) program is a paid returnship program geared toward helping stay-at-home parents, veterans, and caregivers – many of whom are women and people of color – return to the workforce. B2E provides companies with an untapped pool of talent and gives underrepresented individuals the opportunity to launch a career within IT. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
Learn more about the Barriers to Entry (B2E) program.