On the second day of the celebration, GHC 16 attendees from around the world crowded around the our booth to see the speaker who had just arrived. The crowd grew so large that she had to stand on a couch to address everyone who eagerly circled her.
This popular figure was the Chief Technology Officer of the United States, Megan Smith, who had come to talk with the Anita Borg Institute (ABI) community.
The topic of Megan’s speech? How technologists are changing governments around the globe and the need for women to be part of the movement.
The inclusion of women and other underrepresented groups is a topic near and dear to the Grace Hopper Celebration attendees. Women leave the tech industry at twice the rate as men while Hispanic and Blacks hold between only 2 to 8 percent and 1 to 7 percent of technical roles respectively. For GHC attendees, Megan’s message was a refreshing reminder that everyone belongs in the tech field, no matter what their background.
Megan Tackles Diversity
Promoting diversity is nothing new for Megan Smith. She served as CEO of PlanetOut, a LGBT online community, and later became the Vice President of Google where she co-created Google’s “Women Techmakers” tech diversity initiative.
Now as the first female CTO of the United States, Megan is continuing to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in technology. She and her Senior Policy Advisor Laura Weidman Powers recently compiled insights and tips into an Action Grid on how to create a more inclusive workplace.
“[W]e have consistently heard people express a commitment to bringing more diversity, equity, and inclusion to their workplaces,” they write. “Yet often we found that many of the same people who want to create high-performing, innovative teams and workforces do not know the steps and solutions that others are already effectively using to achieve their diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.”
Key Takeaways for Inclusive Workplaces
So what can you do to improve your organization’s diversity and create a welcoming, inclusive workplace for all? Here are some of our top takeaways from Megan and Laura’s piece.
1) Increase Leadership Engagement
Whether it’s human resources or a special diversity department, it’s important for companies to have senior leaders who are engaged in promoting diversity and inclusion. Senior leaders can firmly establish initiatives and make diversity a priority, sending a positive message to both current and potential employees.
2) Retain and Advance Diverse Talent
We say this a lot at ABI – it is about more than the pipeline. Sometimes company policies and practices inadvertently favor one subgroup over another, causing minorities to leave the tech field all together. Companies should analyze their retention and advancement data, address any obstacles that minority employees face, and support employee resource groups.
3) Strengthen Hiring Pathways
Research shows that diverse groups are better at solving problems, making it beneficial for companies to reach out to underrepresented groups. Increase the number of minorities in your company’s entry-level workforce, and make sure to update your candidate screening systems.
4) Build a Supportive Ecosystem
Having allies inside and outside your company will help accelerate and sustain the change your company wants to implement. Create a supportive community that will share and learn from best practices.