A Counterintuitive Way to Increase Diversity in Tech

Inclusive hiring is an incomplete solution

Rachel Nabors
Mar 1, 2018 · 7 min read
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These conversations are so frustrating when looking for a new role.

No matter how many people from underrepresented groups we train for entry level positions, it means doodle squat if they don’t have upward mobility or can’t get hired due to bias.

Here’re some the hurdles facing many people from underrepresented groups embarking on their glorious career path:

  • They are underemployed or under-utilized in their current role.
  • There is no one like them up the management chain they can learn from and aspire to be.
  • They lack mentorship to gain the skills necessary to excel at all of the above.
  • They lack sponsorship to make sure their ideas are heard and valued sans bias.
  • They face downward pressure from a disinterested management that “doesn’t see color” or “only hires/promotes the best.”

Ok, so what CAN you do to help improve diversity in tech?

Glad you asked! It’s simple: get into management.

Management isn’t about a bigger salary or being “the boss.”

Being a manager is more like being a shepherd. A good manager is a force multiplier who brings out the best in their team. They help make important decisions and guide and advise their employees. But in the end, it’s not about them. It’s about their team. A good manager succeeds or fails by their team’s performance.

Retweet and spread the idea that management is about more than getting a promotion!

But what if…

Sometimes I meet great people who want to create a diverse workplace, but they’re in structures that hinder diversity more than help. Maybe management isn’t open to being challenged on established dark patterns. Perhaps there’s an “old boys club” attitude that it’s career suicide to break from. Maybe you stand up for people and get shot down. Maybe you, yourself, do not feel safe or nurtured here.

It’s not about you: it’s about what you can do for others

In the USA, we like to complain a lot. We complained during the last presidential election. And we’re still complaining now. Complaining that all politicians, managers, and other figures of authority are biased and won’t change their policies. The status quo loves complainers because they never do anything. They’re complainers, not do-ers. Complainers change nothing.

Stop complaining and feeling powerless. Start thinking about your career in terms larger than yourself.

This is your call to action.

To make this post less about complaining and more about do-ing, here are some resources and bits of advice that can help you along the way:

Don’t make this one big mistake!

Remember how I said this isn’t about you? You should not strive to be a white knight in shining armor deserving to be showered in praise. This is not that kind of path. (In fact, be worried if people are praising you too much — it’s hard to be critical of someone everyone loves. You might be missing out on crucial conversations.)

Strive to be a servant, not a superhero.

This is not glamorous. There is no prize. The reward is that you will help people reach their full potential and die feeling you’ve helped the human race kick that much more ass.

If you have an ounce of privilege, spend it wisely as you go through this life.

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