CIOs Start To Take Action On Solving The Diversity Issue

CIOs understand that it's up to them to solve IT diversity issues
CIOs understand that it’s up to them to solve IT diversity issues
Image Credit: Public Relations Society of America

Let’s face it, there is a lot on a CIO’s plate right now. All of the normal things related to importance of information technology are there: securing the company’s networks, introducing new applications, educating users about security, etc. Just to make things a bit more difficult, all of sudden everyone seems to be working from home. However, it turns out that there is something else that CIOs need to be dealing with right now. That is the problem with diversity (or the lack there of) in the IT department. The good news is that this is a problem that can be solved. CIOs just need to take the time to find out how to go about doing that.

Solving The Diversity Problem

Last year people in the CIO position helped introduce or bolster initiatives to increase the ranks of minorities and women on their technology teams, as well as programs designed to retain and advance those underrepresented groups. Additionally, CIOs took steps to educate themselves about race and bias. While CIOs have always talked about diversity, equity and inclusion, last year was a real wake-up call. CIOs believe that there has been enough talk, now it’s time for action.

So what can people with the CIO job do to boost diversity within their ranks? Diversity initiatives this year can include making job offers to students at historically Black colleges and universities. Despite years of efforts by CIOs to hire and advance minorities and women in their tech workforces, diversity and inclusion continues to remain a challenge. Black people accounted for only about 7.8% of those employed in core IT occupations across all industry sectors in the U.S. Likewise, Hispanic or Latino people made up about 7.3% that year. The figures helped fuel renewed criticism that the tech sector wasn’t doing enough fast enough to improve diversity, particularly for Black people.

Everyone believes that racism, inequality and discrimination are unequivocally wrong. However, we continue to see these items in both society and in the tech industry. CIOs understand that they can change this if they can turn talk into action. What CIOs need to do is to expand programs aimed at attracting and developing diverse tech talent, despite remote-work conditions. In order to build a diverse pipeline of job candidates, CIOs can start four-year partnerships with black colleges to support its computer science, mathematics and management information systems programs.

A Start Is Good, But CIOs Need To Continue To Diversity

CIOs need to continue to invest in programs to attract talent from black colleges as well as nontraditional paths to tech careers. One way to go about doing this is to train students to become software developers in 16 weeks by having company instructors teach classes at local black colleges. By doing so CIOs can foster paths to internships and ultimately careers within the technology space. Every CIO should launch a task force focused on recruiting and developing diverse talent.

CIOs can’t forget about women. New efforts by CIOs also target women in technology. One way to attract this segment of potential IT workers is to join with nonprofit groups like Girls Who Code to host a virtual immersion program for high-school students. Additionally, CIOs can start a professional network which is focused on advancing the careers of women in the IT department. At the end of the day, it’s going to be up to the CIO to recruit more women for IT jobs. It has historically been hard to achieve a good mix of women in IT.

CIOs should set goals for themselves in terms of how many women they want to employ in their IT department. Across all industries women make up 25.3% of IT jobs. CIOs have to understand that women are currently underrepresented in their IT department and if they don’t put formal measurement around goals like this, they will never get to where they need to be.

What All Of This Means For You

CIOs need to understand that since they are responsible for their company’s IT department, they are also responsible for that department’s diversity. In the past, we have not done a very good job with diversity and we’ve ended up with white male dominated departments. The good news is that CIOs now understand that they have a problem on their hands and they need to take steps to solve it.

CIOs are introducing initiatives to increase the diversity of their IT departments. Working with historically black colleges is one way that CIOs can get the diversity candidates that they want. By starting partnerships with black colleges CIOs can set up diverse talent pipelines. Offering employees as instructors to black colleges is one way that CIOs can attract new talent. CIOs have to make sure that they don’t forget about women. In order to become more diverse, CIOs need to set goal for themselves.

CIOs understand the power of diversity. When we have diverse IT departments, we have a collection of different opinions and viewpoints and that is what we need in order to be able to solve today’s technical challenges. Making the IT department more diverse is not going to be an easy thing for a CIO to do. However, because we understand the benefits of doing so, we also understand that making the effort to become more diverse is worth it.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: What’s the best way to measure how diverse an IT department is?

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