Nulling Stereotypes for Tech Success and Sustainability
Can Tech Success Have Sustained Growth?
Fast and furious, the tech job market is advancing as rapidly as the gadgets it continues to create– with a predicted 1 million unfilled positions in the next two years, and a 3.5:1, job:candidate ratio (Scott, 2018). Although exciting news for the minuscule number of qualified new hopefuls entering the universe of “real world” employment, these predictions reveal a grim reality for the sector as a whole: it’s simply not sustainable. Unless something changes, the tech success that the industry has seen won’t be able to be maintained in its output of innovation, as unfilled opportunities collapse upon themselves.
Aside from the shocking number of open positions, the sector’s other hopping social topic likewise brings harsh critique. Many rightfully point out the lack of diversity in tech teams, with, for example, men outnumbering women in the industry 4 to 1 (Scott, 2018). There is not only an unequal representation in gender diversity, but also in ethnic, linguistic, etc. There are only half the number of African Americans and Hispanics in tech jobs as compared with the rest of the private sector, and a whopping 83% of all tech managerial positions belongs to white males (Rayome, 2018). Although major technology corps have made recent attempts at inclusion, this continues to be the one area in which the sector lags behind the cutting edge of innovation (Carson, 2018).
However, addressing this second tech dilemma may actually serve to shed light upon the first. What seems like an overwhelming problem–to fill a plethora of tech-related openings– is logically explained by the lack of diverse social inclusion: there aren’t enough qualified candidates because the industry has always historically pooled from only a small fraction of the overall population. A work culture has been created by and for just one demographic type, without seeking to inspire others toward inclusion in the sphere.
But what if technology companies–or at least just one–worked to rock the boat of this close-walled culture?
Nearshoring: The Means to Supply a Growing Demand
WebCreek, Inc. operates on a nearshore model, planting offices in the same relative time zone, but across a range of geographic areas. The company hones talent in the US, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and even the Ukraine– with 86 total team members networked throughout these 6 culturally and linguistically varied locations (WebCreek, 2019). Diversity, in this sense, weaves an integral thread in the very essence of the nearshoring approach. Individuals inevitably bring to the table the world view that their upbringing has instilled; for all daily functions, a nearshoring-based company must foster positive and respectful intercultural understanding.
This nearshoring approach requires ninja-level logistical coordination and child-like imaginative creation, in order to handle the problems that inevitably rise in demographically varied teams (after all, we as humans have the bad tendency to surround ourselves with only mirror images…). But the clashing of irons inevitably sharpens both blades, and is further imperative for the tech industry to sustain its exponential job market growth. If companies expand the demographic search pool, they will, logically, have many more candidates from which to choose. The sector can only reach sustainability through this broadened inclusion–nearshoring its way to a changed status of both empty positions and white-bread offices.
But the investment into hired diversity does not signal an act of desperation to fill jobs. Rather, a varied team is in fact proven to be exponentially more valuable than a uni-bodied mind, quickly depleting its novel ideas. Fusion sparks innovation– the very standard on which the industry prides itself, but which too often remains overlooked by narrow-minded social standards. Further, recent studies actually prove that a company’s level of diversity is directly correlated to its economic success, with the potential of $400 billion in the sector’s increased revenue (Rayome, 2018) (Scott, 2018). According to CompTIA CEO Todd Thibodeaux: “Financially, a one percentage point move toward representative diversity leads to a three-point increase in revenue. … Companies in the top quartile for ethnic and gender diversity are more likely to surpass industry norms for revenue and operating margin. Companies in the bottom quartile for diversity aren’t just lagging behind, they are rapidly losing ground” (Scott, 2018). Nearshoring companies, therefore–companies daring to pave the way towards an inclusive social culture–may just be the hope for tech’s sustainability and continued success.
It Came Without Packages, Boxes, or Bags
Like buying a number of cake ingredients in hopes that, in the end, the dessert actually does taste sweet, changing the industry’s norms can feel risky. Breaking expectations never feels safe–much less when talent is a company’s most valuable asset (Florida & Gates, 2001). But cutting innovation isn’t safe, either. And in addition to the mere financial benefits, a variety of ethnic, gender, and age representations likewise prove advantages unquantifiable and invaluable. Diverse teams are proven to be more creative, more collaborative, and also more prone to see individuals over stereotypes. Diverse teams also tend to be more loyal, and improve overall employee performance (Sherman, 2019).
De-coding the Employee Profile
Eager to know how intentional team diversity has impacted a real-life tech company, we asked WebCreek employees to define the typical team member profile. You know what we didn’t hear? The same answer twice. We also didn’t hear anything about demographic frivolities. Instead, we got answers like: “friendly,” “a team player,” “inventive,” “a jokester,” “continually improving,” and “happy to be working from many different places around the world.”
It seems that, at least for WebCreek, the demographic norms and stereotypes culture aren’t expectations among office teams. Rather, the norm is diversity–across cultures, places, and even languages. Naturally, this brings a variety of perspectives and ideas which support the company’s culture and its production, as well as the industry’s longevity and continued sustainability in innovation. Maybe it’s time that more companies follow suite, and render their stereotypical patterns ‘null’.