Our tech industry is booming, with its advances defining a huge part of our society and culture for the last 20 years or so – and showing no signs of letting up. So for people making a career choice, aspiring to work in tech should be right up the top on everyone’s list, irrespective of their background? Absolutely. But, if we’re honest as an industry, we could be more inclusive.
As a technology leader I am acutely aware of the different prejudices that exist in our industry. We all know what the tech stereotype, right? Either the stereotypical geeky male, or someone from the Indian subcontinent. Truthfully, the make up of many work forces generally play to these stereotypes.
However, putting to one side for a moment the industry’s current trend for pushing for more diversity, what does having such homogeneity mean for us as businesses.
It means the solutions we have access to are limited. We will all follow the same rules, apply the same logic and way of thinking. It means we tend to follow a few leaders like lemmings, because what they preach seems to fit with our way of thinking or philosophy.
Is it possible that if there were more women in technology our systems would be more reliable? Is it possible that if there were more people from African backgrounds that our solutions would have more variety? Is it possible that if we had more mothers, disabled people or those more mature in age that our technology problems would actually be resolved, rather than moving from one generation to another?
Appreciating that those statements open up more stereotypes that we have about different groups I do believe the range of skills and perspectives would make a positive impact. As an example of one, I know I do think differently to many of my contemporaries. That doesn’t come just because of the colour of my skin. My interpretation of problems is shaped by my education and the life experiences I have had. It comes from the fact that as a father I see problems in a different way. It comes from the fact that as a person of Christian faith I have inherent respect and appreciation of the value and ideas of those around me. As an ethnic minority I recognise the ability to strengthen or weaken those around me easily. These amongst a myriad of other things is what enables me to bring a different view to my team and to those who report to me.
It is also possible (if not likely) that having a diverse team does not resolve the group engaging in group-think. That the dominant group would still control the direction of thought and decisions – even if unintentionally.
However in my experience that has not been the case. Diversity of people, personality and thought has brought a diversity of expectation, approach and outcome (good and bad!).
Fortunately, Simply Business as an accredited B Corp business has fostered an environment where diversity is in our very DNA. Our leadership team is comprised of a healthy mix of men and women with a broad spectrum of backgrounds and experiences. My department has a goal (and a plan) of being 30% women by 2023 and everyone is able to freely and respectfully express themselves across the whole business. It is part of my plan and responsibility to help our business build a pipeline of talented people, containing the best of our industry comprised of a spectrum people.
Sound like nirvana? Not quite, not just yet – but we do have plans to get there and becoming a founding member of the Tech Inclusivity Alliance should help reach more influential decision makers and encouraging them to be part of the solution on how we change things for the better on equal opportunities.”