Dean C. Garfield photo
A diverse and inclusive workplace will push innovation forward

by U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, Harold L. Martin Sr., and Dean Garfield

Diversity is the key to unlocking exponential growth for the tech industry.

The future of our country depends on building a more inclusive economy. We are at the precipice of innovations that could only be imagined a decade ago – driverless cars that reduce fatalities, curing incurable diseases, and a more sustainable planet are all within reach. However, to achieve this reality, we must establish the pathways for developing and leveraging the talent of all Americans. We are firmly committed to doing the hard work necessary to build that future together.

In 2017 alone, American tech employment expanded by nearly 200,000 workers to an estimated 11.5 million—delivering new, high-paying jobs that will have a profound effect on our economy. And with 3 million more jobs than the number of available and trained candidates, the demand for talent in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, has never been more apparent.

We can and must continue to build technologies that transform every sector of society, from manufacturing to medicine, from energy to education, from farming to finance, and further our commitment to pushing innovation forward.

But in order to do that, we must foster a diverse and inclusive workplace. Comprehensive studies have affirmed a significant correlation between diversity of leadership and better financial performance. A more inclusive and diverse workforce also helps businesses stay competitive and ensures companies attract and retain the best and brightest talent. Putting money aside, there are numerous compelling reasons for the tech industry to reflect on the diversity of the populations whose lives they touch every day. And in this undeniable aim, tech has been lagging behind. This needs to change.

Moving forward, we must ensure that the STEM pipeline is both accessible and inclusive to underrepresented minorities. Through partnerships that merge private and public sector expertise and resources, we will not only attract diverse candidates, but welcome them to an environment that is conducive to their professional success.

Historically black colleges and universities or HBCUs are great partners for addressing the need for more well educated, highly skilled individuals in the STEM professions. They also bring added value to the table in the form of tens of thousands of graduates each year who represent the potential of greater diversity in the workplace.

U.S. Rep. Alma Adams is co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional HBCU Caucus. Harold L. Martin Sr. is chancellor at North Carolina A&T State University. Dean Garfield is president and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council.