"Diversity in tech, is not important, and skin color does not make you special"

Updated: Jun 23, 2019



Recently I posted on linkedin about diversity and our efforts to promote and create a more diverse tech scene. I received many comments of support, however one comment in particular challenged the notion.


COMMENT TO MY POST:

"Why does diversity matter? there is nothing special about skin color so it does not add anything. Ideally a team is focused on the same goals and shares the same views, so diversity in thought could actually be an obstacle. A team that is not diverse can be very strong as well, and I don't think it's essential to be politically correct and try to hire different cultural backgrounds, skin colors, or genders just to have a diverse looking team. As a leader please explain to me why you believe in diversity?"


MY ORIGINAL POST:

Recently I read a post about how Beyonc茅 Knowles passed on working with Reebok because the team around the table wasn't diverse enough and didn't represent what she was trying to do. #Diversity isn't just a buzzword, or nice to have, it's a business imperative! I鈥檓 proud that our startups & small team is so diversity rich. 19+ different backgrounds represented: 馃嚭馃嚫馃嚥馃嚱馃嚙馃嚪馃嚘馃嚪 馃嚡馃嚥 馃嚨馃嚜 馃嚮馃嚦 馃嚨馃嚘 馃嚘馃嚬 馃嚡馃嚨 馃嚫馃嚘 馃嚜馃嚞 馃嚞馃嚟 馃嚢馃嚨 馃嚝馃嚪 馃嚬馃嚪 馃嚥馃嚘 馃嚫馃嚲 馃嚠馃嚦 馃懇馃徎馃懆馃従鈥嶐煢别煈煆解嶐煢梆煣旔煆金煈别煆尖嶁檧锔忦煈煆库嶐煢拆煈煆解嶐煢别煈煆




MY RESPONSE

I鈥檓 so glad you asked this question. because I find it troubling how often I hear the same sentiments you just shared. You are not alone in your line of reason, far from it and it鈥檚 one of the challenges we face. I would like to help reframe what diversity means, particularly for those that may believe their status or value is somehow reduced because of diversity.


Here are responses to your point:

1. 鈥淭here's nothing special about skin color, so diversity there does not add anything.鈥


Diversity has nothing to do with skin color. There are black, white, brown, tan, off white, beige, carmel and other colors of people from different nationalities and backgrounds.


Diversity is about gender, income class, cultural background, work experience, opinions and experiences. It鈥檚 about who you are not what you are.


2. 鈥淚deally a team is focused on the same goals and shares the same views, so diversity in thought could actually be an obstacle鈥


What you are referring to is 鈥渙rganization alignment鈥 any team regardless of its make up needs organizational alignment. As a leader it鈥檚 is your job to set up your team to succeed, and build it around the each individuals strength and create alignment.



Diversity has nothing to do with skin color. Diversity is about gender, income class, cultural background, work experience, opinions and experiences. It鈥檚 about who you are not what you are.




Studies repeatedly support that diverse teams preform better. A 2015 McKinsey聽report聽on 366 public companies found that those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry.






3. 鈥淎 team that is not diverse can be very strong as well, and I don't think it's essential to be politically correct and try to hire different cultural backgrounds, skin colors, or genders just to have a diverse looking team.鈥


According to studies people from diverse backgrounds actually alter the behavior of a group鈥檚 social majority in ways that lead to improved and more accurate group thinking.


If there is legitimate data that supports benefits of less diversity, I鈥檇 be interested in reading it.


4. As far why I believe in diversity. I work in technology/ startups, this industry has a serious diversity problem.


Out of $85 Billion in VC funding last year, only 2.2 Percent went to female founders and less than 1 Percent of total funding went to minority founders. White men make up more than 90% of venture capitalists.


We are not advocating diversity on its own for the sake of diversity. An organization requires many elements to succeed, no one element on its own produces success. Diversity, just like sound leadership, business strategy, execution all contribute to the success of an organization.


Out of $85 Billion in VC funding last year, only 2.2 Percent went to female founders and less than 1 Percent of total funding went to minority founders.

I encourage you to embrace diversity, diversity will not create less opportunity for you, it will create more.

I invite you to come to our accelerator or join us at one of our weekly Unstuck Tuesday meetups. I think it would be useful to have you share your different points of view and for us to listen and share with you ours.


https://www.meetup.com/UnstuckStartups/

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