Apr 3, 2022
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Diversity and Inclusion in the Tech Industry is Possible. Here’s How

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Open dialogue, education, hiring, and strategic thinking are just some of the ways top tech companies are improving their diversity and inclusion efforts.

Diversity and inclusion efforts in the workplace have evolved from mostly talk to a steady walk in the last two years, and data shows they’re as critical to a business’s success financially as they are culturally. According to research from McKinsey, diversity helps organizations improve innovation and financial performance, and helps end any outdated ways of thinking that can subtly persist within a company’s social fabric. However, the technology sector as a whole continues to lag.

In science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) industries, female, black, and Hispanic employees are underrepresented, with female workers making up only 25 percent of computing and 15 percent of engineering jobs. Meanwhile, black workers and Hispanic workers are underrepresented in the STEM workforce as a whole, at 9 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

So how can tech companies improve their business’ diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategies? Read on to learn what top tech companies based in Northern Virginia — the business hub of the Washington, D.C. area — are doing and why they believe it’s important. 

Get the Conversation Started

If you’re unsure of what needs to change or improve at your organization, it is best to start an open dialogue within the company. Nazzic Keene, CEO of SAIC, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Fairfax County, Virginia, says, “We’ve also been very public in our conversation inside the company and arming our leaders with tools and education on how to deal with some of the challenges that come with accelerating our focus.”

By starting an open conversation and inviting feedback from employees, you can begin to identify needs and areas of concern. Through surveying and analyzing company data, you can begin to see what changes need to be made.

Create a DEI Strategy

Once you have the feedback and data, it’s time to create a DEI strategy. Your strategy might include hiring initiatives, implementing, or revising policies, correcting pay, and more. Be sure to set a measurable goal, so you can properly judge how your diversity and inclusion efforts are improving down the road.

Roger Krone, the CEO of Leidos, a science and technology leader based in Fairfax County, shares that they aim to “increase representation of women and ethnically diverse employees by 10 percent by 2030, as compared to our 2021 baseline. We are charting our progress and focused on meeting or exceeding this goal.”

Hire a DEI Officer

While your human resources department might be able to lead the improvement of DEI for your organization, many companies are identifying internal champions or committees to action the strategy, with some firms going as far as hiring full-time positions to ensure goals are reached. Many companies are hiring a DEI officer, including Fairfax County-based global firm Booz Allen Hamilton

CEO of Booz Allen Hamilton, Horatio Rozanski, explains, “While we recognize our work will never be done, over the past nine months, we have made some key changes that I believe set us up for continued progress and growth toward this goal. [We] hired a chief DEI officer, Jon Muñoz, and established our DEI Executive Council to drive progress against our action plan.”

Remember the Work Is Never Done

Moving forward, it’ll be important for tech companies to continually re-evaluate their strategy and seek to improve. Keene explains, “I fundamentally believe that a diverse workforce, in all definitions of the word, creates a better talent pool, helps us make better decisions, and allows us to recruit, hire and retain the best talent in the industry.”

If you’re looking to expand or relocate your business to a thriving, inclusive business community, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority is here to help. Fueled by its diversity, 10 Fortune 500 and 100-plus Inc. 5000 companies have chosen Fairfax County as their home. To learn more about doing business in Northern Virginia, visit our website.

Editor’s Note: CEO quotes were previously provided for FCEDA’s feature in the March 11-17 issue of the Washington Business Journal.

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