A workplace diversity plan backed by Apple and other tech giants

Dozens of technology giants have teamed up in an effort to increase job diversity across Silicon Valley. The partners in the initiative are Apple, Google, Snap and Twitter.

Companies that have joined the Catalyze Tech coalition agree to take certain actions as part of their recruitment and supplier appointment processes.

Bloomberg reports:

The Catalyze Tech Coalition, announced on Thursday, aims to hold its members accountable for improving the representation and experience of women, people of color, first-generation graduates and the LGBTQ community in the technology industry. […]

To join the effort, the companies agreed to follow four main recommendations, such as recognizing diversity as a business imperative and working to improve a range of young talent. They must also consider capital concerns in their large business, including suppliers, product design, and hiring practices […]

Companies are trying to build on the progress that corporate America has made last year after widespread outrage over the murder of George Floyd by a police officer. Since then, dozens of companies have pledged to hire more members of minorities and promote more of them to leadership roles. Some companies have reached out to historic black colleges and universities, while others have set aside billions to support programs to improve the lives of blacks.

One of the key elements of addressing inequalities in the workplace is the beginning of youth, by providing relevant role models.

To that end, the Catalyze Tech coalition plans to give $ 20 million to colleges to train black and Latin American computer science teachers. The goal is to make “systemic interventions to create computer science teachers working from these underrepresented groups.”

While there are always objections that measures designed for the benefit of women and minority groups are inherently unfair, this perspective misses two key points. First, if we have an unequal workforce to begin with, then we need to take diversity measures in the workplace to improve balance. This does nothing more than correct the historical (and often still current) prejudices that made it easier for a white man to get a job than for a black woman.

Second, having a more diverse workforce makes simple business sense. If a company’s employees do not reflect the composition of its actual or potential customer base, it is likely to lack perspectives to help it develop products and services that appeal to more people.

Apple already has diversity as a key target, and there has been a significant improvement in the diversity of key exhibitors recently. But working with other companies to develop a consistent approach is likely to be more effective, especially since Silicon Valley companies often hire people who already work for another technology giant.

Historically, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) technology industry approach has been diffuse, individual, and short-lived. The Action to Catalyze Tech (ACT report) calls for a new DEI paradigm, one that is holistic, collective and sustainable. Making the industry more inclusive requires a systemic response to a systemic problem, where companies adopt a business approach to inclusion and an inclusive approach to business. In other words, DEI and business strategies can no longer be separated.

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Naveen Kumar

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