July 25, 2017
The CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion initiative, a collective response to the documented harassment charges stemming from prejudices in the tech community, has gained nearly 100 new CEOs. The stated goals of each individual in the collective are to commit themselves and their organizations to advance inclusion and diversity in the workplace.
The new recruits are joining the 175 founding members for a total of 270 CEO committed to the cause. But will that be enough? History is a little less optimistic than the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion’s press release.
Why Change Is Tough
Pando founder Sarah Lacy delivered a StartupFest keynote earlier this month in which she covered the state of tech’s toxic masculinity in an incisive 25-slide PowerPoint you can read here. It’s a fact-driven narrative that explains where the culture came from, and why it’s incredibly hard to root out: It’s a culture problem, powered by sexism at tech’s feeder schools and a “ask forgiveness not permission” mentality.
Since it’s in the culture, the problem is inherent to the tech community and not just a flesh wound in need of a bandaid. Notably, Sarah cited stats on the problem: Less than five percent of white men surveyed said that lack of diversity was a “top problem” in tech.
The good news? The bubble is bursting, and we’re seeing a seismic shift unlike anything we’ve seen before. The facts can’t be ignored, and CEOs need to truly acknowledge the problem.
We Need Action, Not Talk
According to the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, they’ll be meeting at a November summit to tackle “longer-term growth strategies.” Here’s the full background on their plans:
“Business, non-profit, and academic leaders are coming together to learn how best to cultivate welcoming, collaborative, and thriving environments for their employees,” the release states. “The collective of more than 270 signatories have shared almost 250 actions across a variety of categories—from supplier diversity and succession planning to mentorship and recruitment—exchanging learning opportunities and creating collaborative conversations via the initiative’s unified hub, CEOAction.com. Continuing this momentum, the signatories will convene at a Summit in November to discuss longer-term growth strategies that will advance the agenda.”
They’re certainly talking about action. But we need true action in order to stand any chance of digging out a bone-deep problem. I’ve interviewed those with knowledge about what steps to take in the past, like Meera Kaul, the founder of a non-profit responsible for the largest global conference for women in STEM. CEOs hoping to effect change should sit down experts and start taking notes.
Read more about diversity on TechCo
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