Beyond Lip Service: How to make diversity a priority in your company.

Author:Taylor, Adva
Position:Beyond Lip Service

Diversity. As the tech industry continues to expand throughout the country, it's become a buzzword--but one that can't be ignored. Four thousand tech jobs sit unfilled in the state of Utah, and women comprise only 23 percent of that workforce. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that there are half as many African-Americans and Hispanics in tech as the rest of the private sector. And worryingly, Women Tech Council reports that only 10 percent of young women believe they can stay in the state for tech jobs.

"They tell us they don't believe there's enough opportunities here and the cultures won't support them," says Cydni Tetro, co-founder and president of the Women Tech Council. "We can't fill jobs unless we solve that problem."

If tech diversity issues are addressed, it could solve not only a giant workforce shortage issue, but also net the tech industry an extra $400 billion in revenue each year, according to estimations by The Computing Technology Industry Association, a nonprofit trade association.

Why is diversity important to business?

Enacting a plan to create and maintain diversity can seem like too much work for busy entrepreneurs who have their business to worry about. Statements like "we at least hire for diversity of thought!" ring around companies that haven't gotten around to tackling their ethnic and gender diversity issues. What they don't understand is that diversity is a vital part of the running of their business--clear evidence exists that greater ethnic and gender diversity in teams leads to better business performance. Period.

In its Diversity Matters report, global consulting firm McKinsey and Company released findings from a study on 366 public companies "across a range of industries in Canada, Latin America, the United Kingdom and the United States." The study found the following:

* "Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.

* Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.

* Companies in the bottom quartile both for gender and for ethnicity and race are statistically less likely to achieve above-average financial returns than the average companies in the data set (that is, bottom-quartile companies are lagging rather than merely not leading).

* In the United States...

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