Despite recognizing (we assume) the urgency of the problem, tech industry leaders continue to
struggle with diversity. Women and people of color remain seriously underrepresented at every
level from management level on down, regardless of endless promises that radical change is
just around the corner.
But like time and the tides, the course of events in the tech industry has its own natural flow. A better future may be coming whether some are ready for it or not. Diversity is gaining momentum that is impossible to ignore and most likely impossible to resist. Diversity Sells—and Sells, and Sells and Sells.
In 2015 McKinsey & Company sponsored a study that proved inclusiveness in tech really does pay off. Among VC-funded enterprises, those in the top 25 percent for gender diversity and ethnic diversity were 15 percent and 35 percent more likely, respectively, than other companies to surpass median levels of profitability. On the other hand, companies in the bottom 25 percent for diversity financially underperformed compared to the industry average, proving
that diversity was the decisive factor.
Diversity helps financial performance and the lack of it is detrimental to the bottom line, it is just that simple. Real-world benefits are connected to more inclusive hiring and funding practices, which is a testament to how a healthy mix of dissimilar outlooks, perspectives, mindsets and life experiences can complement each other and translate into more original and creative thought.
But we shouldn’t overlook the larger implications here, and what they mean for Silicon Valley and the tech industry in general. When companies outperform the median what they’re really doing is spurring economic growth, in the tech sector along with its supporting industries. This
bolsters markets and means more profits and jobs for everyone, up and down the line. The benefits of diversity and inclusion are themselves inclusive, which in this case means they’re felt by everyone.
Hitting the Gusher
From the perspective of venture capital the pool of talent among women and people of color remains lightly tapped, which means the transformative capacities latent within the diversity movement have yet to be fully unleashed.
Top-down initiatives, like Oakland's tech inclusive Kapor Capital’s recent announcement that all future VC recipients will need to demonstrate a meaningful commitment to diversity, will push companies into fertile
recruiting grounds while making it easier for founders from traditionally overlooked groups to gain vital seed and early-stage funding.
Meanwhile for those working to shake things up at the grassroots level should have no difficulty locating startups and founders worthy of recognition—or VC funders eager to invest in superb ideas and rising winners wherever they can be found.
The Answer My Friends, is Blowin’ in the Wind
Frustration with the slow pace of change is understandable and justified. But the winds of change are stirring, and those fresh, gentle breezes may soon accelerate into a full-force gale that blows homogeneity out of the tech industry for good.
We’re all going to rise or fall based on our readiness to embrace diversity and inclusion, and thrilling outcomes await those who realize it and hop on the train now before it rolls out of the station.