Decades of Failure: Improving the Future of DEI in Media and Tech - Niki Allen
As a leader of digital transformation who champions for diversity, I am deeply invested in developing the world of tech to be inclusive for everyone. “Decades Of Failure: Improving The Future Of DEI In Media And Tech”, a Forbes article written by Brenda D. Wilkerson, caught my eye — fueled by panel conversations with other leaders pushing for diversity, Wilkerson discusses the state of inclusivity in media and tech and what should be done by leaders to innovate an inclusive future.
“Media and technology are the tools that fuel our information consumption and creative output. Why then, do neither of them fully represent the richness of our diverse racial, ethnic, gender and cultural backgrounds? This is the dialogue I had at SXSW with other leaders who are pushing for more diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). For an hour, we dissected our respective industries and called out what needs to change.
“The DEI problems in tech present different challenges but have similar roots to those in the media industry. Technology developed solely by cisgender white men (the largest demographic in tech) generally cannot efficiently identify and address the specific needs of those outside of their demo or psychographics. People cannot solve for what they don’t know and what they don’t listen to. The rallying cry to diversify tech has been sounding for years and it is time for leaders to stop, listen, learn, and act.
“However, both journalism and tech aren’t finding people where they are. They must have enough critical thinking skills to recruit outside the typical tech bubbles, establish strong relationships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), women’s secondary educational institutions, and other places of learning with diverse student populations. Also, as I mentioned on the panel, hiring managers need to look at different types of talent, reprioritizing which skill sets and characteristics are truly merit giving, including people who’ve had to persevere through hardships or nontraditional career histories. These experiences are more likely to net tenacity and endurance than those often lauded as most meritocratic that often boil down to an affinity bias.
“So, what can be done to create a lasting impact? …It is the responsibility of tech and media titans to institute change. Women, non-binary people, and members of other marginalized communities did not create the problems from which they suffer and feel the consequences…CEOs need to lead the charge and make the policy, culture, and procedural changes necessary, making sure to incentivize success and establish redress for failure (just as with profit and loss around products and services).
“The data is clear: diverse teams create a fatter bottom line. The question is when will this fact incent leaders to make the changes that obviously would benefit them, their companies, their teams, and their customers. That’s a lot of wins for the taking. And as I like to say, this is good business, not charity.”