The Self-Made Barriers of Tech Inclusion

The oversaturation of buzzwords like 'diversity & inclusion' within the tech industry can actually perpetuate division. Here's how organizations can restore meaning to these terms and organically create a rich, diverse corporate culture

inclusion
(Image: iStock.com/Yuri_Arcurs)

In Silicon Valley, the term “diversity and inclusion” often dropped, due to the glaring reality of the need for more of it.  However, this concept of tech inclusion can ultimately lead to more division between the majority and the minority within tech culture.

Currently, when you look at tech culture as a whole, you may begin to ask yourself a series of questions, such as:

  1. Why does an organization’s workforce not mirror the diversity of its customer base?
  2. How do companies identify new talent pools and invest in leadership development, to retain skilled talents from various cultural backgrounds?
  3. Why have the words “tech,” “inclusion,” and “diversity” become core buzzwords, which act as a measurement of organizational mission?

Truthfully, these things perpetuate an illusion of inclusion created by self-made barriers. The utopian goal should be a shift towards cultural innovation where everyone is included.

Cultural innovation is the intersection between tech inclusion and diversity. For so long, terms such as “tech inclusion” have signified the need to bridge an unfulfilled gap within the tech industry.  The varying truth regarding innovation incorporates all views, while supporting creative thinking efforts geared toward increasing economic and social value. By increasing this value, tech companies will be able to develop products and services that speak to the larger, culturally diverse world.

Now, I do not want to take the credit for having the brevity of understanding regarding why there is a need for a change in the tech industry and how it considers tech inclusion. This complex concept is really the brainchild of Jerry A. Higgs, Ph.D, a member of the Board of Trustees for the LFDN: Leinahtan Foundation:

“Cultural innovation is ideal for an environment that involves the rapid change that showcases the status quo as insufficient to compete effectiveness, subsequently making cultural innovation essential for success. This innovation is a pattern of beliefs that encourages and supports an ecosystem of research and innovative actions. Intentional occurrences of focusing on innovation are to understand exactly what is being innovated. By doing so, this allows time for the development of ‘one’s ideas,’ which maintains your perspective to be focused on future goals.

Understand that this innovation cannot and should not be over-engineered—it has to be organically free at its core.  One must also bear in mind that innovation measured through success metrics improves the organization’s chances of success.”

Here’s how organizations can begin integrating cultural innovation into their corporate culture:

  1. Measure diversity and inclusion at the team level. This is where actual innovation takes place.
  2. Eliminate mindsets that perpetuate dominant and subdominant attitudes created by the “other” mentality.
  3. Support creative, free thinking that advances the sharing of ideas through meaningful collaboration.
  4. Remove barriers that prevent experimentation and exploration.
  5. Use rewards to sustain innovative thinking, thus creating a working model that maintains this mentality.