Getting up to speed on diversity and inclusion

If you live in the Bay Area, it’s hard not to open your Twitter/LinkedIn/Facebook feed and see another article or story about tech companies and diversity and inclusion. And while there are many well-documented struggles and frustrating stories, there are positive ones, such as the work of Freada Kapor Klein, tech leaders who take a stand for diversity, and s the work Paradigm is doing with other tech companies to name a few. There’s also been a number of VCs who have done their part, especially in helping newly formed companies start off on the right foot. For instance, Hunter and Satya over at Homebrew posted a great primer on how to get up to speed on diversity, with a focus aimed at early stage startup founders .

While not everyone is in a position to enact sweeping changes with how their organizations create diverse and inclusive workforce, many of us have the opportunity to learn and engage on the issue. Admittedly, I did not know enough about these issues until a few years ago when I was at a networking event and an officer from a diversity organization pulled me aside and educated me on some of the issues that Asian-Americans face in the workplace, particularly in rising to the ranks of senior leadership positions within organizations.

As the son of two immigrant parents, an aspiring future leader, and someone with the privilege of being highly educated, it humbled me that I could be so ignorant to such an important issue that was so critical to my own life, but more importantly, to people around me that I cared about. Since then, I’ve tried to not only educate myself on the issues, but move progress forward in creating diverse and inclusive organizations that I’m a part of while helping others become as educated as possible on this issue.

Because the United States continues to become more and more diverse, and because of the diversity challenges that tech companies (see most companies) have faced, the topic of diversity has become front and center. There has been an increased attention and coverage around these issues which has led to some signs of progress for some organizations. The reality is that there is still much work to be done, and it’s a great step to hire a Chief Diversity Officer or revamp your hiring practices, if we really want to see meaningful and impactful change there needs to be more support and action from all of us.

So, if you’re interested in learning about the issues, getting involved, and making an impact, what can you do, and how can you start?

First and foremost, if you want to get great content on key issues start listening to the conversation, especially for people like Tristan Walker, Erica Joy, Carissa Romero, Candice Morgan, Leslie Morgan, Hunter Walk, and Joelle Emerson. I started doing this and my Twitter feed (shoutout to Nuzzel, which aggregates that top stories in your feed) started giving me way more content on these topics than ever before.

Second, check out some of the articles below. I’ve categorized them by topic type, and it should get you up to speed on a variety of issues, first-person stories about the struggles and challenges, ongoing initiatives, best practices, and data and research.

Third, there are some great organizations who are trying to tackle various issues around diversity and inclusion as it pertains to the workforce. The main causes and objectives differ, but they are worth checking out to see if there are any that directly align with your mission or values. Consider supporting them if that’s the case.

Code 2040

Black Girls Code

Dev/Color

Consortium For Graduate School Management

Forte Foundation

Ellevate Network

Girls who code

Last but least, take action. Hunter and Satya’s post outlines some things you can do. For those who are managers, leaders, or HR professionals, Google actually released a ton of free content on some of their HR practices which includes some of their work on diversity issues. These are small things we all can do our part to be educated and aware of the issues and challenges.

Finally, my list of people working on this issue is not nearly exhaustive, nor is my knowledge of resources and research so please feel free to share other pertinent information.

As an eternal optimist, I’m hopeful that change will happen. And while it requires a top down, bottom up and middle out approach, there’s no reason we can’t take it upon ourselves to learn about the issues, be allies, and do our part to enact positive change.

Data and Research on Diversity

First Person Stories

Recruiting

Unconscious Bias

 

 

Best Practices

 

 

 

Ongoing Initiatives

Weekly Roundup: Self-Awareness, spending time with industry titans, and why you should work 100+ hours a week

Each week, I come across a ton of great content that I find interesting and helpful to my personal and professional career. I’ve decided to start sharing some of the things I find along with a few quick thoughts on what I read. I hope you find it helpful.

Career

Effective Leaders know the Science behind their behavior – Daniel Goleman is one of the leading experts on the topic of emotional intelligence, something that I think is a key driver of success among leaders.  In his latest article on LinkedIn, Daniel talks about how effective leaders utilize self-awareness to understand behaviors that lead to successes and failures, and use that self-awareness to drive their own decision making. Good news – if you don’t think you are self-aware, the article outlines things you can do in order to increase your self-awareness.

Why I work 100 Hours a weekLiz Wessel, the Founder and CEO of Wayup, a job matching platform for college students writes about why she doesn’t have work-life balance and why it’s worth it for her not to. Given the glamour that startups get, it’s a nice reminder that it’s not all rainbows, butterflies and catered meals. It’s clear she’s found a job and company that she is willing to throw her life into and that is incredible. The key here is finding something for yourself that is just as worthwhile to you, provided that is the path you want to pursue.

Spend time with A+ people in other industries – Hunter Walk, one of my favorite bloggers I follow, wrote about how spending time with people who are interesting to you in other industries can be valuable for your learning and development. This is an approach I’ve used throughout my life and I 100% agree with his comments. If you’re not doing this I encourage you to do so.

Tech

obama

Technology and the Imperative of Citizenship – In preparation for President Obama’s appearance at SXSW, Jason Goldman, the CDO of the White House wrote a piece on why he believes technology and innovation is critical to transforming public service. As an optimist, it paints a lovely picture of how technology could make public service more user/citizen friendly, and it does a nice job outlining some of the ongoing work (and potential future projects) the government is undertaking to transform the way it serves citizens.

gusto

Joshua Reeves of Gusto: Directing without dictating – Gusto is one of the hottest startups out there. They also happen to have a CEO who by all accounts seems to be a very grounded leader. This NY Times interview gets into his leadership and management style. After reading this article, I’m not surprised to see them doing so well. It’s clear they have very strong leadership

Management

What Google learned from it’s quest to build the perfect team – Google has a world-class Human Resources team, and this article from the NY Times showcases some of their research on what makes successful teams. According to their research, physcological safety is the number one trait that is most critical to successful teaming at Google. This is a great read for any manager who is responsible for a team, or, for any person who is on a team at work.

Thoughts on Gender and Radical Candor – I’ve previously written about the topic of radical candor and why i think its important. Kim Scott, the former Google/Apple leader did a Part 2 on radical candor and the implications of radical candor on men and women. For anyone interested in the diversity issue this is a relevant article into how everyday managers have to deal with managing a diverse workforce. Furthermore, there is also a fascinating story in the article about the challenge today that many professors/teachers in college face in teaching and educating students.

What Hubspot Learned from hiring (and not hiring) engineers – IMO, Hubspot has some of the best content marketing out there. It’s interesting and incredibly useful to a wide audience. If you’re someone who is in a role where you have to recruit and hire this is a must read.

Why Learning is the New Coding

man-person-apple-iphone-large

 

It’s hard to dismiss the growing importance of technology and software for the future of the workforce and economy. For interested students, there are coding bootcamps and online courses to teach you how to code. Governments gotten involved as too, as President Obama has pledged billions of dollars to teach  students how to become technically competent. Last but not least, companies are starting to wise up to the digital revolution, and are starting to take it upon themselves to ensure they have the technical skills of the future.

The NY Times ran a great story on the transformation that’s underway at AT&T known as Vision 2020. AT&T is trying to reinvent itself so it can compete in the digital world. According to it’s CEO Randall Stephenson, AT&T “needs to retrain its 280,000 employees so they can improve their coding skills, or learn them, and make quick business decisions based on a fire hose of data coming into the company.”

According to another Business Insider article, AT&T expects its employees to spend about 5-10 hours a week extra so it can learn and evolve. While the NY Times article seems a little doomsday, it brings across a good point – the digital world is accelerating the rate of change and innovation to faster paces than we’ve ever seen. While the technologies are coming faster and quicker, it also means that people who use the technology need to adapt and evolve just as quickly. That means learning and acquiring new skills (like what AT&T is espousing) is as important as ever.

So how does AT&T plan to do this? By encouraging and it’s employees to learn and develop the skills needed to produce these new products and services. For starters, it’s partnered with Udacity and Georgia Tech for an online Master’s in Engineering Program. Its employees can take the program free of charge (cost is $6,600) and they can do it while they work their day job, which means lots of late nights and weekend work.

For it’s workers who are interested in growing and developing new skills, who want to work in more technical minded environments, and who want to stay with AT&T for awhile this is a great opportunity to guarantee opportunities for the future, whether at the company or elsewhere.

However, these changes don’t sit well with everyone. A good portion of its workforce is near the age of retirement, and would rather “run out the clock” than adapt and develop new skills. Others see their skillset as niche and acknowledge the digital revolution but believe they will be fine.

Unfortunately, not everyone can simply run out the clock in their job until they retire. And while there will be some jobs that never get replaced, many will. People in the workforce (looking at you, millennials) will have lots of working years left in their career. If there’s any lesson from this story it’s that if you want to increase your career success you’ll need to focus on continuously learning and acquiring new skills, especially technically minded ones. Those who do so will have the best chance at remaining relevant in the increasingly challenging workforce.

So how do you learn? There’s lots of great resources in the digital age. AT&T partnered with Udacity, but there are lots of online learning options on the web such as Udemy and Skillcrush. Furthermore, I’ve also written a post on how I learn through various digital tools that don’t require any money.

It’s clear that technology innovation is not going away, if anything, it’s speeding up. And while it’s great to learn how to code there are many other types of skills that can be incredibly relevant in the digital age. What is just as  important is acquiring a mindset where you’re open and diligent about continuously learning and developing new skills.

Whether it’s coding or not, gaining a mindset of growth and learning is a critical characteristic for employees in the new economy. The sooner employees realize it, the more valuable they’ll become.