I haven’t been in the tech field very long, but since I started learning to program I’ve observed from a distance the furor around the lack of diversity in the industry. Particularly at the top companies such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
I’ve heard two arguments. On the one end, there is a belief that tech companies aren’t doing enough to bring in diverse candidates. That they only search for talent from the top universities and through referrals from those that already work within the company. These candidates and referrals tend to be white, Asian-American, and male.
On the other end, there are those that believe there aren’t enough diverse candidates. That the attrition rate for the industry is high and that those that are capable are happy to stay in the state or region where they’re from.
What we don’t know are the statistics that are in the hands of the hiring managers. The numbers of diverse candidates they see and the numbers they turn away. The rate at which hiring managers reach out to these candidates and the compensation they provide that compares to their white counterparts. For all that these companies say about increasing diversity in tech, the process is still very opaque.
What we do know, and what I subscribe to, is that all companies maintain and perpetuate their own culture. And when you become a part of that company, you are becoming part of their team to help them further their goals. At that point your mindset, and even your identity, shifts for the benefit of the group. If it just so happens they represent your views as a person, even better.
I say this to say that the big companies, or any company for that matter, will be who they are. If you are not satisfied with it, or you think that the company needs to be more representative of who you are, then that is when you build that company. I am sure there are many out there that share your same sentiment. Build bonds with those companies and people that are like-minded and invest in them. Hell, go and work for them if you want.
But don’t wait for any company to make those changes voluntarily. Besides, the biggest movements in the world all started at the grass-roots level when communities spoke truth to power and fought the prejudices against them. Not just in America but around the world.
I know that the tech field wants to be seen as some kind of utopian, altruistic, meritocracy. Let’s leave that to the philosophers. What we have now is a set of bugs in the code and some more tests to run. I am sure we have a few developers that can figure out how to make diversity and tech mutually inclusive in this program we call life.