Diversity and Inclusion in Technology: Insights from Grace Hopper 2023

Organizations have made progress in promoting diversity and inclusion in technology, but there is still work to do.

Article by
Ashley Blevins
Picture of High Alpha Talent Acquisition Partner, Ashley Blevins, with High Alpha logo.|Picture of High Alpha Talent Acquisition Partner, Ashley Blevins, with High Alpha logo.

A few portfolio members and I traveled to Orlando, Florida, and spoke at the Grace Hopper Conference—the largest gathering of women and non-binary technologists. During my time at the conference, it became evident that although organizations have made significant progress in promoting diversity and inclusion in technology, there is still work to do.

I’m excited to share my key takeaways with you as we all continue to work together to create a more diverse and inclusive environment in tech.

Recognizing the Problem

The tech industry has undergone significant shifts and transformations in terms of diversity advancements and social awareness. However, despite progress, gender and racial disparities persist within the tech workforce.

During her session, Brenda Darden Wilkerson—President and CEO of AnitaB.org—shared these statistics:

  • Forty-five percent of employees affected by the most recent tech layoffs were women, even though women make up only twenty-nine percent of the tech workforce. 
  • Women of color constitute a mere five percent of the tech industry.
  • A startling sixty-five percent of organizations are currently suffering from AI data bias

Structural inequities require structural solutions, and it’s clear we still have a long way to go. We must do everything we can to reduce barriers into tech, and that includes organizations educating employees on gender bias as they enforce layoffs and implementing mitigation strategies as they incorporate emerging technologies into their business.

Bridging the Startup Knowledge Gap

Another aspect that needs attention is education about startup opportunities. It became very clear to me that most of the women and non-binary technologists attending the conference did not know how to find startup jobs or how much impact they could have in a smaller company.

I had a conversation with a female engineer employed at a corporate organization, and she shared that the process of getting her code into production typically spans a year, with minimal feedback reaching her. To her astonishment, I informed her that female engineers in our portfolio consistently deploy code to production on a weekly basis and enjoy prompt feedback from their customers.

When people are job searching, it’s understandable that they will look for the companies they’re familiar with. The Googles, the Apples, the Microsofts. If we are to increase diversity and inclusion in technology, startups must increase their brand awareness and better promote the significant career growth employees experience working on a smaller team. As long as companies are strategic in where they target their recruiting efforts, there’s a big opportunity to fill the top of the funnel with diverse candidates.

The Power of Allyship

A crucial factor in making a difference lies in championing the work of women and non-binary employees. During the conference, a recurring theme emerged: We are not each other's competition. We must ensure we give credit where it's due and have diverse perspectives within leadership. People cannot be ignored if they have a seat at the table.

Designing for Diversity

During the event, I learned that 1.3 billion people globally live with disabilities. A critical aspect of inclusivity is designing products with disabilities in mind. This approach is not only ethically sound but also offers a competitive advantage. Companies that prioritize inclusive design experience twenty-eight percent higher revenue, double net income, and a thirty percent better performance on economic profit margins.

Final Thoughts

After all the sessions, one piece of advice resonated with me. Tiffany Yu—CEO of Diversability—said, “Tech is in everything, and should be for everyone.” The work towards increasing diversity and inclusion in technology will never be done, but it is our duty to do everything possible to break down barriers and create an environment where anyone and everyone feels like they belong.

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