It's Past Time To Level The Playing Field


At LinkedIn, researchers identified the skills most in demand. The top 10 last year were all computer skills, including expertise in cloud computing, data mining and statistical analysis, and writing smartphone applications. In a recent analysis, Edward Lazowska, a professor of computer science at the University of Washington, focused on the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment forecasts in STEM categories. In the decade ending in 2024, 73 percent of STEM job growth will be in computer occupations. Furthermore, cybersecurity is one of the fast growing stem career fields with a project 3.5 million unfilled positions by 2021. Analyzing data from October 2016 through September 2017, job market tool CyberSeek found a dangerously shallow talent pool. More than 285,000 vacancies were unfilled during that period. (And only 746,858 people made up the cybersecurity workforce.) Some places like Washington, D.C., Delaware and Colorado were acutely short workers; supply in the nation as a whole was classified as very low.

Unfortunately, women, minorities, and disabilities are not equally benefiting from this growth. According to a recent census report, only 24% of women in the workforce make their living in STEM careers. In 2012, white women earned 6,777 PhDs in STEM fields. On the other hand, white men earned 8,478 Ph.D. degrees. For African American women, that number dwindles to 684—10 times fewer scientific doctorates than their white counterparts. With only 3.5% of STEM bachelor degrees, Latina women face an even larger obstacle. In 2012, white women earned 6,777 PhDs in STEM fields. On the other hand, white men earned 8,478 Ph.D. degrees. For African American women, that number dwindles to 684—10 times fewer scientific doctorates than their white counterparts. With only 3.5% of STEM bachelor degrees, Latina women face an even larger obstacle.

It also doesn’t help that racial discrimination may deter students from pursuing some majors, STEM in particular. Although 20 percent of black computer science majors attend historically black colleges and universities, Silicon Valley’s recruitment efforts on those campuses are often lackluster. Black STEM graduates also face significant discrimination on the job, which may discourage some from pursuing those career.  The evidence: Facebook, Twitter, Google & Netflix announced that Black males make up 2% or less of their employees.

Also, individuals with disabilities are under-represented in science, engineering, and mathematics education programs and professions. Regrettably, individuals with disabilities often face challenges to pursuing careers and degrees in STEM and are underrepresented in the STEM fields,” ODEP and NCD wrote on the website advertising the online dialogue. Causes of this problem can be found in three areas: preparation of students with disabilities; access to facilities, programs, and equipment; and acceptance by educators, employers, and co-workers.

Let’s not forget about the cybersecurity field where the number is frighteningly worse. This particular corner of the tech world is even less diverse than the general tech sector, with women making up only 10% of the cybersecurity workforce, and Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian Americans making up only 12% combined.


How do we level the planning field?

Many are aware that being part of an inclusive culture is what makes employees feel happier, more productive and more motivated to do great work. Feeling included is what makes employees want to stay with a company. A healthy culture recognizes diversity and inclusion and opens its arms for an employee to bring his or her whole self to the workplace. The only way to create this inclusive culture is leveling the playing field, so let’s get at:

Give women, minorities, and those with disabilities access to resources, role models and access to people in STEM that looks like them while they are in K-12. Here are some program worth looking into:

Provide organizations with resources that help them create an inclusive culture

Hold companies accountable to have an inclusive culture

  • <Div>ersity is building a platform that connects diverse tech talent to trusted, transparent companies.

Create a safe community will people have an open discussion about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) topics

The benefits of building a workforce of diverse people who are empowered to contribute to a company’s success positively are numerous – from better financial performance and more innovative problem-solving to easier employee retention and greater appeal to customers. The resources are available to make this happen, and I just listed a few, but I would encourage you to look in your respective communities as well. What are you willing to do to level the playing field in the workplace?


Let's Talk About Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) ROI - Part 1


Wanting to feel included, being part of a community is part of what makes us human. We want to connect with our friends, family; inclusion is fundamental to our sense of happiness and well-being. Our interests, motivation, health, and happiness are inextricably tied to the feeling that we belong to a greater community that may share common interests and aspirations. Organizations realize that a culture of inclusion has a positive impact on their business and considerable bearing on the bottom line. So, why are so many companies hesitant to make significant investments in DEI programs? One of the reasons, is they have difficulty measuring the return on investment (ROI).  

Many companies struggle with effectively measuring the results of DEI initiatives. In part, the challenge begins with determining what measures will yield the most useful information. For others, this task is difficult because they do not collect the necessary data required to measure diversity and inclusion. DEI programs, for example, are often considered to have “intangible” results, such as improved communication or improved teamwork, yet such improvements may have a significant impact on productivity, growth, and profits.


Data collection is key to effective DEI measurements. Examples of meaningful data are:

  • Level of participation in the firm’s diversity and inclusion vision formulation.
  • Number of underrepresented employees informal mentoring programs who get promoted.
  • The ROI of Diversity and Inclusion
  • Percentage of diversity objectives aligned with key strategic business objectives that are tied to bonus and compensation systems.
  • Representation on the board of directors.

Overall organizational climate and culture ratings and their effects on all represented groups. By following five basic steps, monetary values for intangible results can be established:

  1. Identify a unit of measure that represents a unit of improvement.
  2. Determine the value of each unit.
  3. Calculate the change in performance data.
  4. Determine an annual amount for the change.
  5. Calculate the total value of the improvement.

Effective DEI measures and evaluation processes that determine the potential ROI of a DEI plan can provide an organization with invaluable information to support critical business initiatives. The goal should be to embed DEI metrics into the organization strategic plan and make it a part of everyone’s responsibility. DEI champions need to help leaders motivate leaders, and peers encourage peers to influence each other and own the initiatives.

Why Diversity and Inclusion Plans Fail and How To Avoid These Pitfalls


According to a recent Time magazine article, for most of its history, diversity training has been pretty much a cudgel, pounding white men into submission with a mix of finger-wagging and guilt-mongering. “Many interpreted the key learning point as having to walk on eggshells around women and minorities–choosing words carefully so as not to offend. Some surmised that it meant white men were villains, still others assumed that they would lose their jobs to minorities and women, while others concluded that women and minorities were simply too sensitive,” executives Rohini Anand and Mary-Frances Winters noted in a 2008 analysis of diversity training in the Academy of Management Learning & Education.

Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev with Harvard Business Review, state equality isn’t improving in financial services or elsewhere. Although the proportion of managers at U.S. commercial banks who were Hispanic rose from 4.7% in 2003 to 5.7% in 2014, white women’s representation dropped from 39% to 35%, and black men’s from 2.5% to 2.3%. The numbers were even worse in investment banks (though that industry is shrinking, which complicates the analysis). Among all U.S. companies with 100 or more employees, the proportion of black men in management increased just slightly—from 3% to 3.3%—from 1985 to 2014. White women saw bigger gains from 1985 to 2000—rising from 22% to 29% of managers—but their numbers haven’t budged since then. Even in Silicon Valley, where many leaders tout the need to increase diversity for both business and social justice reasons, bread-and-butter tech jobs remain dominated by white men.


Despite some failures, diversity and inclusion are two key elements that every workplace strives to incorporate into its culture. After all, every employee wants to be in an environment where not only their voice but the factors that set them apart, can shine and contribute to something bigger.  Here are two quick tips for creating a successful diversity and inclusion program.

1.     Start some form of unconscious bias training – Most of us have heard about the incident at Starbucks where two black men were inappropriately arrested. Starbucks announced they were closing there 8,000 stores to give unconscious bias training. While many people have differing opinions, I think this a good thing if done correctly.  The training should highlight that unconscious bias creeps into all aspects of our lives and decision-making, not simply in ways that negatively impact diversity and inclusion efforts. Remind people that we have a bias because we are people, but that does not justify any particular stereotypes they may have. Also, make sure that unconscious bias revolves around there day-to-day work. Research shows that when information is presented in a way that is linked to our current schemas, we are better able to remember it. Finally, discovering of one’s own culture and the potential biases one may have toward others is the first step toward improving your effectiveness with diverse colleagues and customers. But it’s not enough.

2.     Focus on inclusion and diversity will come - When people are allowed to be their authentic self, have a voice and seat at the table (inclusion), while knowing there are systems in place to make sure everyone has equal opportunity to succeed (equity), an organization will be able to attract people from all walks of life. (Diversity). Inclusion is the only scalable way to build diversity within an organization. Without thoughtful and deliberate discussion and action to cultivate an inclusive environment, all the energy, and resources spent on recruiting a diverse workforce are for naught. The employees, so painstakingly recruited, will be gone within three months. Diversity is a byproduct of having a strong inclusive and equitable culture.

Diversity and inclusion is a hot topic in the corporate world. Many CEO believes in their hearts that the implementation of diversity and inclusion strategy will make the company better inside and a more competitive outside. Done right it absolute will accomplish these goals, but creating an inclusive culture does not happen overnight, it is a journey. It will take the effort of a thoughtful and committed community of diverse individuals with engaged senior leadership.

Are you wondering how you on how create diversity and inclusion initiative at your organization? Check out workshop: How To Build A Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Plan Using Human Centered Design!