Despite what you hear from trolls, bigots, and misogynists, diversity in the technology industry is a good thing. But the philosophy of diversity needs more champions. Tech companies and IT organizations need to expand their workforce beyond the herds of white men that have dominated the industry for decades.
I was delighted to hear so many executives at CA Technologies champion diversity at CA World. CEO Michael Gregoire and CTO Otto Berkes both embraced the concept during their marquee keynotes. I attend a lot of trade shows and vendor conferences every year, and I rarely observe diversity discussed and championed by senior executives in such settings.
Perhaps CA is reacting to our current political environment. Bigotry and misogyny have infected our public discourse, and trolls within the technology industry feel emboldened by this, citing pseudo-science and primitive arguments to push back against diversity.
Industry leaders like CA and others need to counter this backlash and encourage a diverse pool of people to enter the STEM fields. This isn’t just a cultural issue or a political issue. It’s a business problem.
CA and other companies talk abut how diversity leads to the application of a wider spectrum of perspectives to problem-solving, which can lead to better outcomes. I don’t disagree. But the best argument for diversity is even simpler.
At EMA, I conduct three or four research studies a year in which I survey IT professionals about various technology initiatives, whether it’s modernization of network operations, the transformation of the data center network, or the rollout of Internet of Things initiatives.
Time and again, the shortage of skilled personnel comes up as a leading barrier to success. For instance, this fall I surveyed 200 IT organizations that were involved in data center network transformation, and 98% of them said they were adopting software-defined networking (SDN). The top business-related challenge to successful SDN implementation was a lack of internal SDN skills and expertise (32% of all survey respondents).
Two years ago, i asked 150 network managers to identify their top challenges to successful network operations. A lack of people was the second biggest challenge (23%)
The skilled personnel shortage isn’t a budget matter. We hear constantly that the technology market has a labor crunch. There are tens of thousands of unfilled jobs. Industry leaders talk about labor gaps in specific markets, like cyber security, that will climb into the millions in the coming years.
The best way to address this problem is to expand the labor market. We must encourage more people to enter the technology field, educate themselves, and pursue technology careers. It doesn’t matter where they came from, whom they worship, whom they love, or what their gender is. If they can do the work, the industry needs them now. It’s good for business, and it’s also good for our society.