An op-ed published today in The Hill shares my perspective that when it comes to workforce diversity there is less of a Silicon Valley – D.C. “disconnect” and more of a shared challenge on crafting an inclusive workforce in both the tech sector and the corridors of power in our nation’s capital.
Instead of being bystanders, tech intends to lead. And that starts with the candor to own up to the problem and confront the “uncomfortable” by publishing and parsing the data to seek answers and craft solutions. With that in mind, ITI is following the example of several of our companies and publicly releasing our own workforce data:
There is no debating that there is much work to do in improving the diversity of the workforce in the tech sector. While the available data veils geographic and industry specific successes, the reality is that overall, the sector I call home and that has embraced me is overwhelmingly white and male. And, as a result, it is not achieving its full economic potential.
That fact also holds true for the power centers of our nation’s capital—from the leadership to the interns, from Capitol Hill to the administration, and the firms on K Street. As an African-American it is not unusual, and in fact is the norm, to be “the only” such person in critical policy meetings in Washington. That isn’t to cast aspersions, but to anecdotally illustrate a point gained from experience. Like the tech sector, many people also suspect there is a lack of diversity in the corridors of power in our nation’s capital. But unlike an increasingly large swath of the tech sector, which is engaging in introspection and sharing our demographics as the beginning step in a longer process to address our diversity challenges, the stats on Washington, D.C., are largely missing from the conversations on inclusiveness.
Releasing our workforce data isn’t to suggest that we are the arbiters of inclusion or to advocate viewing diversity as so-called bean counting. As one of the first D.C.-based advocacy groups to do this that I am aware of, we hope releasing our workforce statistics helps spark similar exercises from K Street to Capitol Hill, and helps to catalyze a broader conversation about unleashing the strengths diversity brings to our workforce and our economy.
The tech sector is committed to tearing up the traditional script and to leveraging our disruptive capacity for our diversity efforts. It’s time to spark action – and not just in Silicon Valley – but in Washington and beyond on how we can all achieve a workforce that is truly inclusive.