Unlock The Code: Finding Solutions to Increasing Diversity in the Field of Information Technology

Technology is all around us. Today's economy is highly driven by the latest and greatest innovations in technology. The want and need for this concept of "latest and greatest" in technology is what drives the markets competitiveness on the global front. Let's face it, most of us could not make it one day without our smartphones or tablets. Tech companies are constantly developing products to appear as the one to beat on the market. In order for these tech companies to remain competitive on the global front, they have to stay on the cutting edge of development and make sure they have a diverse array of talent.

Technology companies are starting to address diversity issues plaguing their companies today after being criticized in the past for overlooking the issue. Google, Apple and Facebook are just a few of the popular tech firms that are serious about improving ethnic and gender diversity in their company structure and on their corporate boards. In recent survey data polled from the above mentioned tech firms, most if not all of the employees are White and Asian men. (see graphic below by Analee Kasudia from Fortune magazine)

According to a New York Times Editorial from 2014 titled Silicon Valley's Diversity Problem, "Many studies show that companies with gender and ethnic diversity tend to be more creative and more profitable, because varied perspectives help them design products and services that appeal to a diverse, worldwide audience." With the spotlight on this issue, tech firms are starting to take action. For example, to combat the diversity issue, Facebook is creating partnerships with professional associations and nonprofits to get more female and minority kids interested in science and technology careers. Google is taking a top down approach to training their management teams to become more aware of hidden biases. Understanding how to spot those hidden biases is important when it comes to evaluating the hiring practices of your company and also during annual review time.

Another red flag plaguing the tech industry is the dropping rate of female computer science students at universities. I personally find this troubling as a minority female who holds a computer science degree. I believe introducing the different pathways and opportunities of tech careers is an important step in creating more diversity in the tech industry. Organizations such as "Black Girls CODE" is an excellent organization committed to empowering minority girls from the ages of 7 to 17 and introducing them to all areas of STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). The organization holds summer programs across the country that include various coding workshops and contests. They also have plans to start "Black Boys CODE". To find out more about this information about this organization visit www.blackgirlscode.com

In order to break down the barriers and change the stereotypes in the tech industry, we have to get into the schools and educate our younger generation. We can achieve this by introducing them to the opportunities that are available in the fields of STEM. This can be a critical component to the diversity issue. According to Department of Commerce reports, STEM occupations have grown eight percent from 2000 to 2010 and are expected to continue on the path of growth in the next 10 years.

Now that a number of the larger and more popular technology firms are taking the diversity issue seriously, there is promise for more tech firms to follow suit.

Brandy Green, Communications Director, New Orleans Chapter of the Louisiana Diversity Council

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