Several reports published in recent years have demonstrated that diverse workforces have a positive impact on a company’s bottom line. The recent report by McKinsey and Co ‘Delivering through diversity’ (a follow-up to their oft-quoted report from January 2015) shows that gender and ethnic diversity in executive teams is significantly positively correlated with both profitability and longer-term value creation. In the case of gender diversity, the ‘profitability boost’ for the most diverse companies (when comparing top quartile to bottom quartile companies) has increased markedly since the initial report was published three years ago.
Of course, diversity encompasses much more than simply gender and ethnicity, although those are the areas where the bulk of existing research has placed its focus. Given the theme of this series, we’ll focus (for now at least) on the topic of women in the tech industry.
As the infographic below shows, even the largest tech companies, which presumably have established diversity and inclusion programs, still have a long way to go if they are aiming for a more balanced distribution of gender.
There is no magic bullet, of course. Creating change will require commitment, investment and innovation from all directions – top-down (both industry-wide and from an organizational standpoint) and bottom-up (from coding clubs that encourage girls to engage with technology to the kind of initiatives happening in our UK and Canada offices that we will hear about later in this series).
The McKinsey report identifies four ‘imperatives’ for an organizational diversity and inclusion program to be effective:
- Articulate and cascade CEO commitment to galvanize the organization.
- Define inclusion and diversity priorities that are based on the drivers of the business-growth strategy.
- Craft a targeted portfolio of inclusion and diversity initiatives to transform the organization.
- Tailor the strategy to maximize local impact.
In the UK, the recently launched Tech Talent Charter – aims to deliver greater diversity in the tech industry through promoting best practice in recruitment and retention, securing real commitment to progress, and (anonymously) aggregating industry-wide data on diversity. Through initiatives such as these, plus ‘on the ground’ activities such as the 50:50 group meetups which we will read about tomorrow, individuals, organizations and the industry as a whole can come together to effect real and lasting change.
Earlier this morning, I watched the speech given by Frances McDormand last night as she accepted her Oscar for Best Actress – bit of a tenuous connection, you might think. But in using her public platform to call her own industry to account, and proactively make changes to highlight and support inclusion she is just one more great example of how women are pushing forward the agenda on diversity and inclusion. We all need to play a part in ensuring that conversations (sometimes uncomfortable ones) happen, and that changes, whether small and incremental, or seismic, keep traveling in the right direction.
I am optimistic that by the time my four-year-old daughter is out there seeking her first foray into the world of work, the playing field will look a lot more level…