In the past seven years, diversity in tech has gone from a “nice to have” to a “need to have” to a “desperately need to have”, which is the state we are in now. And though we’ve made some progress, whether it’s more women and people of color being considered for CEO roles, more of us being vocal about our right to be treated as competent members of our community, more of us showing returns or a more diverse cross-section of people learning to code in the first place, we have a ways to go.
There has been material change in the past few years: Whether it’s a survey circulated by Sukhinder Singh Cassidy encouraging high-profile women to commit to the cause or Pinterest engineer Tracy Chou’s push for diversity reports and transparency at her own company, which had a cascade effect across the entire industry.
Or more recently, OneLogin engineer Isis Wenger, who turned Internet trolling into a movement that gives women and people of color a plethora of engineer role models to tap into, just search the hashtag #Ilooklikeanengineer.
And this is why all three will join us on stage at Disrupt in two weeks, in a fireside chat that I will ditch class to moderate. (I joke!)
There are many arguments for diversity in technology, but few are data driven or actionable. The above three panelists’ efforts were both, and are already leading to substantive change.
And while there are a lot of women on this panel, rest assured that this will not be a “women in tech” panel: Because a) Diversity in tech extends, obviously, beyond the female gender and b) We already tried that once and it didn’t work.
From a purely capitalist perspective, increased diversity in our industry is imperative. It’s just good business. The products we produce continue to impact more diverse markets and people with different points of view are needed to guide that impact. I never again want to hear a venture capitalist say that he’ll ask his wife or his executive assistant about a product like Pinterest or Snapchat. The person who can answer that question should be in room, sitting at the table: So hire them.
(And come to our talk at Disrupt SF. Tickets here.)