Charles Eaton - Andrea McMillian - Nancy Hammervik on Technologist Talk

Accelerating the Journey Toward a More Diverse, Equitable & Inclusive Tech Workforce

By R.C. Dirkes

CompTIA’s latest Cyberstates Diversity Index shows that, during the last decade, progress toward greater representation in tech occupations among some U.S. populations has been slim to none.

From 2010 to 2020, representation among Black or African Americans increased from 6% to 8%. For Hispanics or Latinos during the same period, the percentage rose from 5% to 7%. For women during those 10 years, the rate was unchanged.

CompTIA researchers develop the Diversity Index by analyzing the tech workforce composition across the seven top-level groups covered by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). And when reviewing these statistics, it is important to note that numeric counts of workers can show growth; however, if other groups grow at the same rate, overall representation percentages remain unaffected.

Regardless of statistical technicalities, though, one conclusion seems clear: Progress toward greater diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in our nation’s workforce feels slow at this critical time, as individuals and organizations work to recover from the pandemic’s economic damage.

What are CompTIA, Creating IT Futures and the CompTIA Tech Career Academy doing to accelerate the technology industry’s journey toward greater DEI?

CompTIA Tech’s new CEO Nancy Hammervik, who also serves as executive vice president of industry relations for CompTIA, and Creating IT Futures CEO Charles Eaton, who also serves as executive vice president of social innovation for CompTIA, recently connected for a podcast conversation with CompTIA’s Andrea Rios McMillian.

“Developing a diverse, equitable, and inclusive business culture is the right thing to do,” Hammervik tells McMillian, a guest interviewer, who hosts her own motivational podcast, Tuesdays with Andrea. “And I mean that holistically. There's racial inequality in our society. There’s economic inequity in our nation. And the tech industry is lacking diversity. So, each of these issues is a barrier to success on multiple levels for distinct groups and individuals in different communities.”

 

Why Diversifying the Tech Workforce Helps the U.S. Economy Recover from the Pandemic

During the discussion, Hammervik lays out the rationale for supporting the nation’s economic recovery from the pandemic by diversifying the country’s tech workforce.

“A lot of obstacles to success mean fewer individuals will succeed in their roles as business leaders, managers, or workers in business,” she explains. “In turn, that means that these barriers to success will hamper people's ability to thrive in their roles and their personal lives, as a consumer, as a customer, as a head of household, or a spouse, or a parent.”

She continues: “When some parts of a workforce struggle with issues of inequality, inequity and lack of diversity, a whole industry will feel the strain. And then, the struggles of a critical industry like tech will put a drag on the entire economy.”

Hammervik believes this rationale for greater DEI has come into sharper focus since the pandemic’s onset more than a year ago. Indeed, some people and businesses have been more affected than others, she concedes. But overall, the entire U.S. economy must recover from the COVID crisis and its negative effects on our society.

CompTIA Tech contributes to this recovery, she says, by providing services and solutions, such as the IT-Ready Technical Support program, to individuals and organizations across the business spectrum.

“Training is a very powerful way to remove those barriers to success for workers and the people who employ them,” asserts Hammervik.

 

How Training Technologists Helps Diversify Businesses by Diversifying the Tech Workforce

Eaton reinforces Hammervik’s thinking: “When we look at the traits of a true technologist, [it’s] much more about growing your skills beyond just technical competence, into business acumen, into the soft skills.”

“Technologists understand that solutions should be about humans, not about the hardware,” he elaborates. “So, when you look at the case for diversity, equity and inclusion, you're going to see a lot of research out there that says companies outperform when they have a diverse workforce and when they have diverse leadership.”

Eaton cites studies by CompTIA and other researchers, such as McKinsey, that show “outperformance by about 30%, in some cases, when companies, for example, have a third or more women-in-leadership positions. And for those that are more gender diverse, in general, they can outperform those organizations that lack diversity by about 50%.”

These statistical trends, he confirms, cross over into the issue of racial diversity, too.

Within Creating IT Futures, CompTIA Tech and across CompTIA, Eaton says, leadership is facilitating discussions around diversity, equity and inclusion. About a fifth of CompTIA’s staff participates in the organization’s formal DEI committee.

Comparing Creating IT Futures to the tech industry overall, he points out that representation among people of color in programs such as IT-Ready is much greater than other technology sectors. Last year, in fact, the percentage of people of color enrolled in CompTIA Tech courses exceeded 65%.

Eaton affirms that CompTIA’s leadership looks to address problems in the technology industry that may not be receiving enough attention.

“For example, it's hard to get people into the industry when they don't have experience,” he says. “There are lots of organizations that are training people, but they don't have experience (that we have) in placing people into jobs.”

“So, we were able to win a Department of Labor contract to expand apprenticeships into tech, at greater numbers than they currently are,” he continues. “And our goal is to have 50% of our apprentices be people of color… this is just one [area] where we can do some tangible work and tackle an issue that's been a problem.”

Are you -- or someone you know -- considering changing careers? Consider launching a technology career with CompTIA Tech. 2021 classes are open for applications. Apply here.

Meantime, hear the rest of the conversation between Nancy Hammervik and Charles Eaton here: Episode 49 – Talking D, E & I: Accelerating the Journey Toward a More Diverse, Equitable & Inclusive Tech Workforce (Part 1)

 

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