PHOTO EDITED BY WE REP STEM.
There is a steadily-growing pile of evidence that “old boys’ clubs” — a moniker used to describe the social advantages (typically white) men have over minorities in professional settings — isn’t the best way to do business.
Having a diverse group of decision-makers whose voices are respected and suggestions acted on in a meaningful way is good for business.
Research shows companies that support gender diversity are rated more favourable overall and supporting all minority groups — including white women, people of colour, individuals with disabilities, and those from the LGBTQ+ community — can help a company’s bottom line, allow employers to develop untapped talent, and give institutions a competitive edge.
The latest study to echo this sentiment was published earlier this month in the Academy of Management journal.
Researchers Orlando Richard, María del Carmen Triana, and Mingxiang Li analyzed the employment data of 201 tech firms and found companies with high levels of diversity in upper and lower management were the most productive. Just a 1 per cent increase in racial diversity correlated to productivity bump of $729 per employee, according to the study.
Less diverse firms were less capable of making good business decisions and obtaining a competitive advantage.
“As we see from the current demographics of the major technology companies of Silicon Valley and the Fortune 500, many firms are far from being diverse and especially at the highest levels,” the authors of the study write.
The paper suggests companies “approach diversity as a means of learning from different perspectives” and use what they learn to improve their business practices.
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DIVERSITY IN TECH
Traditionally, Silicon Valley tech workers have been overwhelmingly white or Asian men.
Some big tech companies, like Facebook and Apple, have launched diversity initiatives that have helped increase the number of some female employees — but Black, Latinx, and mixed-race individuals of all genders remain underrepresented.
GENDER TOXICITY IN TECH
In 2019, several headlines emerged depicting the tech sector as a toxic, especially towards women.
Then in December, League of Legends developer Riot Games announced it would pay at least $10 million to women who worked at the company over the past five years following gender discrimination claims.
As of December 2018, women accounted for less than 20 per cent of all tech jobs in the U.S., despite comprising more than half of the country’s total workforce. If that trend were to continue, it could take 118 years for female computer scientists to annually publish as many research papers as men.