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  • Writer's pictureAshley Hart

Is Diversity and Inclusion Real in Tech Enterprise?

We Need an Honest Conversation in the Tech Industry - Not Just About Race or Gender

I've worked in Tech for most of my career, whether it's been as marketing consultant, a #marketing executive for large Tech enterprise companies or Silicon Valley Startup. I first became interested in helping the cause of pushing diversity and inclusion, when I was the CMO of Infor. After traveling my first year to our North American and international offices to meet my staff and colleagues, I was a little shocked by the lack of diversity that I had seen throughout our offices, although our NYC headquarters was very diverse. I guess, I assumed that since our office was diverse that the rest of the offices would be too. I know, I know, assume and you create an "ass of u and me". I hadn't really thought about diversity as a Tech issue until I returned to our headquarters, which spawned my initiative to launch DiversityTech. DiversityTech was to be the first of an initiative to increase diversity from within our organization and across the industry with other software companies. Let me explain further, before you flame me that I was naive.

Prior to working at Infor, I had worked for myself for 10 years as a marketing consultant and freelanced for the VC and private equity firm Insight Venture Partners' portfolio companies. As a consultant, I was tasked to create and manage digital marketing and demand generation programs that would increase higher quality marketing leads for their B2B and B2C SAAS companies. I worked with more than 28 of their portfolios.

I travelled to all of Insight's portfolios to work with their teams on-site on a weekly basis, but in SAAS, there seems to be much more diversity of age, gender, race, physical ability challenges, immigration, economic inequality, and education compared to enterprise. By the way, these are only some of the items that I believe need to be part of the discussion for diversity, so it's not limited, which is my point. In enterprise, I hear people pat themselves on the back for diversity hiring of gender and race, but I have not seen it beyond some specific departments of the company, not globally, and not all the way down from the CSuite to independent contributors. Diversity hiring is usually targeted to only a handful of "diversity hires" that seems to meet hiring quotas.

If we are true to commiting to diversity and inclusion as an industry, then we have to change what we define as "diversity and inclusion", which we are still far away from achieving in the standard venacular. We have to change the paradigm of hiring, such as, if someone has more work expertise for a field and it can be verified, do we really need to ask what college or university they came from? Have we created work environments that allow physically challenged candidates to thrive? Unless it's critical to have certain roles in-house, do we need physical addresses on a resumes from candidates who are applying for remote or hybrid positions?

Let's not stop challenging what is considered diversity and inclusion. Not to be a Debbie Downer, there's definitely been progress achieved, since I first started in this industry, but let's not pat ourselves on the back yet.

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