If you are in tech, you know we as an industry aren’t very inclusive when it comes to the people working at our companies. The problem has gotten worse since I entered the work force back in the days when fire was first invented and the Steves worked out of their fabled garage: fewer women and minorities now work in tech.
In the wake of the formerly celebrated bro-culture bad-boys that have either lost their jobs or have given forced social media apologies, even the general press has picked up on this meme. Witness the program this past weekend on Megyn Kelly’s Sunday Night, where she interviews six Silicon Valley women engineers and startup founders about their harassment by men.
So it is nice to see some good news in this sector, care of a recent post about Atlassian’s practices. They are software company that has employees in Sydney, San Francisco and other cities around the world and employ 1,700 people. Over the past year, 18% of their tech hires and more than half of their engineers were women, up significantly from earlier years.
Atlassian credits several things for their diversity. First and foremost is dropping the notion that they are a meritocracy, which is a mask that many Silicon Valley firms hide behind and use it to block inclusive practices. MIT research shows that managers at these companies perceive themselves as more impartial, and are therefore less self-aware and less likely to root out and bust their biases.
Sure Atlassian has some corporate credos that they post on their website, such as “play as a team” and “Don’t <mess> with the customer,” among others. But they also say that “Continuous improvement is a shared responsibility. Action is an independent one.”
To that effect, the post also mentions that the time to change is now, and the earlier in a company’s founding the better. “Getting a first woman on the team is a lot easier when there’s only three employees and they’re all men, as opposed to when there are 20 that are all men. Invest early. You’ll have to put in less effort over the life of your company when you do,” says Aubrey Blanche, the company’s head of diversity inclusion (shown here).
The post mentions some tactics your firm should take to widen diversity, and includes following some key folks on your social media accounts (here is a handy Twitter list if you want to check some of them out yourself). Another idea: create a culture where feedback about how you’re doing in regard to inclusion is constant, embraced, and rewarded. Use Slack or other IM tools to directly ask your staff for feedback on a regular basis. Until your culture is inclusive and you are listening to your folks, you won’t be. Have meetings that are designed to let introverts excel: send out agendas in advance, ask people to prepare remarks, and engage your remote employees.
There are a lot more tips in this blog post on how to encourage a more diverse workforce. Take some time to read them, and more importantly, act on them.