Women wanted: The tech industry’s quest for gender diversity via role models

A mentor can be an invaluable resource when embarking on a career in technology. But a recent Kaspersky report revealed only 19% of women polled said they were encouraged by a female role model. 

The Kaspersky report, “Where are we now? Understanding the evolution of women in technology,” will be among the topics discussed on Thursday in an online event co-hosted by Ada’s List at 8 a.m. ET.

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The goal of the event, Kaspersky said, is to help celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8 and hopes to empower and champion women in the tech industry or those considering joining the industry.

The participants in the online event will be:

  • Patricia Gestoso, Ph.D., a member of Ada’s List and head of scientific customer support at BIOVIA and the 2020 Women in Software Changemakers Winner
  • Tim Campbell MBE, a small business advocate, youth talent ambassador and a passionate believer in the transformative power of education and commerce
  • Claire Hatcher, head of business development, Kaspersky Fraud Prevention. Claire has worked in cybersecurity for over 15 years, specializing in fraud prevention for the past decade. 
  • Anjali Ramachandran, moderator

There was once a time when it was common, and even accepted, to believe that girls were not as good at math as boys; this has now evolved into more than one-third (38%) of women in IT wary of entering the lucrative industry. A role model is critical, noted the report, in understanding the quest for gender diversity. 

In the tech world, women feel compelled to be autodidacts—nearly half of women (43%) found the job best suited to them through their own research. Another 33% of women felt encouraged to find a role in tech during their matriculation, at school, college or university. Kaspersky said these results show “early signs of change at the grassroots stage, but a current lack of female representation is still a key barrier to achieving a diverse workforce.”

More for CXOs

While positive steps to reverse gender stereotypes within IT have been implemented, in order to shake-up organizational structures and to shift attitudes, “there is only so much change that can be affected without more female representation,” according to a Kaspersky press release. “If there aren’t examples to follow, there isn’t a clear path for young women to take them from education, through to the industry, and then into senior roles further along in their career.”

During the height of the pandemic, technology was a stalwart industry, which continued to hire while other industries were shuttering. It’s clearly a worth-it-to-pursue career, but college/university students looking to land on a major and job seekers need to be shown the skills and benefits of the sector. The best way to demonstrate this, Kaspersky found, is through role models in IT who can show young women this promising career; 44% of respondents earmarked problem-solving skills as a prime example, while 40% cited the potential for more substantive salaries.

The report noted the critical differences between 2019 and the current state of tech work. The pandemic sent 95% of women in tech to work from home, at least part time, since March 2020.

The research surveyed 13,000 men and women across 19 countries who work in the tech sector (1,000 respondents were from the United States) and 53% agreed that the number of women in senior IT roles increased in the past two years, conversely, though, only 10% of women in tech work in a female-majority team, compared to 48% working in a male majority team. 

Yet the report suggested that remote work demonstrated to women respondents an ability to have a good work-life balance and that it was strongly motivating in more women considering tech-related careers. Seven in 10 women stated that their skills and experience were considered more important than their gender during the interview process for their first IT or tech role, and 69% of women in tech said they were now more confident their opinion would be respected out of the gate, regardless of gender.

But 44% of women still believe that men move up in their organizations faster than their equally skilled female counterparts and 40% report being held back when pursuing career changes due to family or home pressures.  A similar number, 41%, said a more equal gender split would be beneficial to “general career progression.”

Despite 34% of women who said they missed seeing colleagues in person, 31% still preferred the remote work dynamic, 46% believe the balance between men and women is assuaged working remotely and 58% of female respondents said telecommuting facilitates gender equality. Still, 47% of women said COVID-19 delayed their career progression, 48% found juggling home and work stressful (63% of women handle most of the homeschooling, compared to 53% of their male partners). 

Women, the Kaspersky report stressed, need more role models, because the majority of women haven’t been encouraged to work in tech. Better marketing of IT’s positive benefits directed toward women is also needed, 42% said.

“It’s also important to highlight the advantages of a career in tech,” Gestoso said. “Whilst tech careers are usually marketed by hard skills exclusively (maths, computers, logic), it’s important to highlight that skills such as collaboration, communication, and customer skills are key to a variety of tech roles.”

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Image: iStock/fizkes

Nia Long applauds today’s entertainers for ‘demanding diversity in a way that my generation really couldn’t’

Nia Long has seen a lot during her 30 years working in Hollywood, but she’s especially grateful for the experiences she had early on in her career.

“I was lucky enough to start acting and really having unique opportunities in a time — it was the ’90s — where Black everything beautiful, proud, loud, and in your face was undeniable,” Long says in an interview with Meredith’s Blackprint in honor of Entertainment Weekly‘s A Celebration of Black Film issue. “I feel so blessed to have been a part of that because that was a culture-defining moment for everyone.”

The actress, whose breakout role was in John Singleton’s 1991 film Boyz N the Hood, adds: “When I started in the business, most of the films that I worked on were Black films. The crew was Black, the director was Black, the writer was Black. Because that was my first experience, I thought that was the norm — that the next set that I went to was going to be Black, Black, Black, but I realized it wasn’t.”

Watch Nia and Larenz Tate go head-to-head on their Black movie trivia knowledge:

She continues, “Oftentimes there was a Black director, Black actors, and the entire crew would be white, which I don’t really care — if you’re good at your job, you should have the job. But what bothers me is the opportunities weren’t always offered to Black people.

“You’d walk into the hair and makeup trailer, and there was no one there to service you, to understand your hair and makeup needs,” Long recalls. “And then you were labeled difficult if you said, ‘No, I’m not getting in front of the camera looking like this because I could do it better myself.'” 

Long quickly learned to take care of herself on set so she could put aside concerns about her appearance to focus on the job she was actually there to do: act.

“That’s your heart, your gut. Everything goes into a performance, and you’re worried about how you look,” she says. “It makes no sense, and it’s counterproductive to the process.”

That’s just one of the reasons she applauds the new generation of actors, writers, producers, and directors who feel empowered to speak out about inequalities in the entertainment industry and who won’t take no for an answer.

“They’re demanding diversity in a way that my generation really couldn’t. We would ask, but it wasn’t always granted,” she says. “Now there is an awareness and there’s an ‘I’m not taking no for an answer’ attitude, which is really amazing. I’m really proud of the next group of leaders in this industry that are putting their foot down and saying, ‘No, we deserve to have the same experience as the next white actress.'”

Check out the video above for Long’s full interview, where she reminisces about working with Larenz Tate on Love Jones, and reflects on the impact the legendary Cicely Tyson had on Black culture.

EW’s A Celebration of Black Film is available on Amazon and wherever magazines are sold. 

Shaquille O’Neal becomes founding partner, investor in new ad agency focused on diversity

The basketball legend said: “A lot of people talk about it. I’m tired of talking about it. I want to do something about it. I just want to make progress.”

Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal has become known since retiring from the game for his prolific work as a celebrity pitchman, working in front of the camera to help brands including Papa John’s and Frosted Flakes win customers.

In his latest venture, he’ll be working with marketers behind the scenes.

Mr. O’Neal is becoming a founding partner and investor in Majority, a new ad agency focused on serving up talent of diverse backgrounds. The agency arrives as Madison Avenue grapples with a history of inequity amid the nation’s renewed call for social justice, large agencies increasingly take measures to diversify their ranks, and some marketers press agencies to increase the diversity of the teams that work on their accounts.

“Most agencies still struggle to meet a 25% diversity target,” Mr. O’Neal said in a telephone interview. “We want to flip that diversity ratio to turn the minority into the majority.”

The agency plans to hire a diverse pool of talent defined by “black and brown people, women and LGBTQ,” said Omid Farhang, co-founder and chief executive of Majority.

“The goal for our company is to show how creative output changes when you flip that ratio,” Mr. Farhang said. “It’s as much about social equity as a shrewd business decision. Diversity is a competitive advantage. Diversity leads to different kinds of ideas that create different types of cultural discussions.”

The American Association of Advertising Agencies, or 4As, issued a report in September showing that Black and African-American employees make up just 5.8% of the agency business, and of that portion 68% held administrative or entry-level roles. The study, which looked at 165 agencies representing more than 40,000 employees, also found that 8.7% of the sample identified as Hispanic or Latino.

Mr. O’Neal won’t handle day-to-day agency tasks but will support the shop by joining meetings, networking and reaching out to brands and celebrity contacts as needed, he said.

“I’m just motivated to do this in a way to create new opportunities,” said Mr. O’Neal. “A lot of people talk about it. I’m tired of talking about it. I want to do something about it. I just want to make progress.”

Mr. O’Neal has worked with brands for decades, through both endorsement and investment deals. He owns many Papa John’s Pizza and Auntie Anne’s pretzel franchises.

He is also looking to purchase Reebok with Authentic Brands Group, where he is a partner, from Adidas AG to revive the brand, he said. In December, Adidas said it is exploring a sale of the U.S. fitness brand.

And last fall he helped form a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, to make acquisitions in the media and technology industries.

Majority is based in Atlanta, where Mr. O’Neal spends much of his time, and where the agency expects to source talent due to the city’s thriving Black middle class, said Mr. Farhang.

Mr. Farhang was most recently chief creative officer at Interpublic Group of Cos. experiential agency Momentum Worldwide. Before that, he worked at talent agency Creative Artists Agency and creative agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

What IT leaders are doing to boost Blacks in tech

Attuned to racial inequities and the benefits of diversity, some IT leaders are overhauling pipelines, rethinking retention, and encouraging Black IT pros to grow their networks and careers.

As a Black woman with a computer science degree and 30 years of experience under her belt, Lisa Gelobter felt the time had come to use her skills to do something about issues of bias, discrimination, and harassment in the workplace.

“I’ve gotten to a place where my resume is pretty unimpeachable,’’ says Gelobter, whose past credentials include serving as chief digital officer for Black Entertainment TV (BET), CDO of the Department of Education in the Obama Administration, and as a member of the team that launched Hulu. “It’s okay for me to stand up and put my voice and reputation on the line, where folks coming up still have to make their way.”

[ Find out how your organization may be getting diversity and inclusion wrong — and how to get it right. | Learn how to define your company culture before it derails your mission. | Get the latest IT staffing, hiring, and leadership advice by signing up for our CIO newsletters. ]

That wasn’t always the case. Gelobter recalls dealing with microaggressions and inequalities, such as getting interrupted in meetings when she tried to voice an idea, “and it’s not heard, and then a man or a white person will say something and it’s a brilliant idea.”

Lisa Gelobter, founder, tEQuitable
Lisa Gelobter, founder, tEQuitable

She was also mistaken for an administrative assistant “at every company I’ve worked at,’’ even after she became a vice president. “The range of things — of being touched or spoken to inappropriately or talked over or [told to] fetch the lunch — it spans the gamut and it’s constant.”

So Gelobter founded tEQuitable, an independent and confidential platform that enables employees to report problems and seek professional advice on how to respond to systemic issues ranging from the subtle to the overt.

“Living the day to day is no different than it was 30 years ago, which is scary,’’ she says. “There has been for the longest time this … idea that you can bring more diversity and underrepresentation into engineering and tech firms. People have been talking about it since I’ve been in the industry, and yet, the numbers haven’t changed dramatically.”

Black workers have felt the economic burden acutely since the pandemic began. The unemployment rate for Black Americans was virtually unchanged at 9% in January, compared with 6% for white Americans.

Jane Fonda says Hollywood is “afraid” to discuss its diversity issues in powerful Golden Globes speech

“There’s a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves in this industry,” Jane Fonda said at the Golden Globes on Sunday night. “A story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out, a story about who’s offered a seat at the table and who is kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.”https://f5619a448fb12be6aa2eee98b9498831.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

While accepting the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Award, given for lifetime achievement in film, Fonda dedicated her speech to the night’s diverse nominees, calling on the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to further “expand the tent.” 

An actress, producer and documentarian — as well as an entrepreneur, activist and author — Fonda, 83, has spent six decades in Hollywood, winning two Oscars and seven Golden Globes, among countless other awards. She’s has been arrested many times for her activism, which has spanned anti-Vietnam war efforts to, more recently, climate change. 

But on Sunday, she focused her speech on a singular effort: inclusion. 

Notably, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization of international journalists which organizes the Golden Globes, does not have a single Black member. 

“We recognize we have our own work to do,” HFPA Vice President Helen Hoehne said Sunday night in an attempt to address the controversy. “Just like in film and television, Black representation is vital. We must have Black journalists in our organization.”

NBC's "78th Annual Golden Globe Awards" - Show
Honoree Jane Fonda accepts the Cecil B. DeMille Award onstage at the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards February 28, 2021 in Beverly Hills, California.RICH POLK/NBCUNIVERSAL/NBCU PHOTO BANK VIA GETTY IMAGES

Read Fonda’s full acceptance speech: 

Oh my God, thank you. Thank you, all the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. I’m so moved to receive this honor, thank you. You know — hi, Amy! — We are a community of storytellers, aren’t we? And in turbulent, crisis-torn times like these, storytelling has always been essential. 

Golden Globe Awards 

You see, stories have a way to — they can change our hearts and our minds, they can help us see each other in a new light. To have empathy. To recognize that for all our diversity, we are humans first, right? 

You know, I’ve seen a lot of diversity in my long life, and at times I’ve been challenged to understand some of the people I’ve met, but inevitably, if my heart is open and I look beneath the surface, I feel kinship.

That’s why all of the great conduits of perception — Buddha, Mohammad, Jesus, Lao Tzu — all of them spoke to us in stories and poetry and metaphor. Because the nonlinear, non-cerebral forms that are art, speak on a different frequency. And they generate a new energy that can jolt us open and penetrate our defenses, so that we can see and hear what we may have been afraid of seeing and hearing.

Just this year, “Nomadland” helped me feel love for the wanderers among us, and “Minari” opened my eyes to the experience of immigrants dealing with the realities of life in a new land. And “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Small Axe,” “U.S. vs. Billie Holiday,” “Ma Rainey,” “One Night in Miami” and others have deepened my empathy for what being Black has meant. 

“Ramy” helped me feel what it means to be Muslim-American. “I May Destroy You” has taught me to consider sexual violence in a whole new way. The documentary “All In” reminds us how fragile our democracy is and inspires us to fight to preserve it, and “A Life on Our Planet” shows us how fragile our small blue planet is and inspires us to save it, and ourselves.

Stories, they really, they really can change people. But there’s a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves in this industry, a story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out, a story about who’s offered a seat at the table and who is kept out of the rooms where decisions are made. 

So let’s all of us, including all the groups that decide who gets hired and what gets made and who wins awards, let’s all of us make an effort to expand that tent so that everyone rises and everyone’s story has a chance to be seen and heard. 

I mean, doing this simply means acknowledging what’s true, being in step with the emerging diversity that’s happening because of all those who marched and fought in the past and those who’ve picked up the baton today. After all, art has always been not just in step with history, but has led the way. So let’s be leaders, okay? Thank you, thank you so much.https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/pzhHUkCN4kQ?autoplay=0&rel=1Jane Fonda Receives the Cecil B. DeMille Award – 2021 Golden Globes by NBC on YouTube

Netflix will spend $100 million to improve diversity on film following equity study

 POINTS

  • Netflix commissioned a diversity study of its movies and TV shows that showed improvement in representation from 2018 to 2019, but gaps still remain.
  • The company will spend $100 million over the next five years to fund organizations that help underrepresented communities find jobs in TV and film.

Netflix released a first-of-its-kind diversity study Friday to analyze the makeup of Netflix’s on-screen talent, as well as the behind-the-camera creators, producers, writers and directors.

The report shows that the company has made progress, but still has more work to do to close diversity gaps. The company says it’s committing to an “inclusion lens” to its work, which co-CEO Ted Sarandos says means asking questions like, “Whose voice is missing? Is this portrayal authentic? Who is excluded?”

The company also announced the creation of the Netflix Fund for Creative Equity, which will invest $100 million over the next five years in organizations that help underrepresented communities train and find jobs in TV and film. Netflix also committed to releasing an update on this study every two years through 2026.

The study was conducted, at Netflix’s request, by Stacy Smith, who has a PhD in communications and human development and is the founder and director of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. The USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative produces regular reports on diversity in film and television. Smith’s team examined all of the films and series Netflix commissioned between 2018 and 2019. Of the 22 inclusion indicators (such as racial identities, LGBTQ+ and disabilities), 19 showed improvement over the two-year period.

Netflix’s strengths in diversity are around women. The study found gender equality in leading roles across films and TV series. Smith also found that Netflix is outpacing the industry in hiring women and people of color as directors. Netflix was also found to exceed proportional representation of Black leads and main cast.

But the report also found that other racial and ethnic groups were underrepresented relative to the U.S. population. LatinX characters were just 4% of leads, despite being 12% of the population, and just 3% of creators and producers were LatinX.

The study also found that LGBTQ+ characters were rare: just 4% of leads in film and 1% in TV series. And while the study says that 27% of the U.S. population identifies as having a disability, fewer than 1% of series leads, and just 5% of series main cast were characters with disabilities.

“Dr. Smith’s years of research — including this new study — confirm that inclusion behind the
camera exponentially increases inclusion in front of the camera, and that both depend on ensuring that the Netflix executives commissioning these stories are also diverse,” Sarandos wrote in a blog post about the report. “Doing better means establishing even more opportunities for people from underrepresented communities to have their voices heard, and purposefully closing capacity and skill gaps with training programs where they are needed.”

Friday’s news and the company’s fund is the latest in a series of commitments to diversity.

In January, the company released its first Inclusion Report about Netflix’s employee ranks. And in June, Netflix made a $100 million commitment to support Black communities by putting 2% of its cash holdings into Black financial institutions serving low- and moderate-income communities.

Netflix founder and co-CEO Reed Hastings has also made a personal commitment to diversity. In June, Hastings and his wife donated $120 million to historically Black colleges and universities.

Tips for Growing and Retaining a Diverse Workforce in Tech

Workforce diversity goes beyond just setting a hiring strategy: You may have to overhaul your culture to ensure new hires feel welcome and can thrive. That accountability ultimately rests with the executive team and the CEO.

“Too often, diversity has been seen as only an HR program and not core to the business,” explained Ian Cook, vice president of people analytics at Vancouver-based workforce analytics startup Visier.

In order to build a sustainable change in diversity, he added, you need to have a leadership group that understands the process, represents the company you want to be, and can build the type of inclusive culture which makes diversity real and not just a numbers game.

As Cook also noted, often companies looking to improve diversity automatically look to hire more people from underrepresented groups. Their approach might prove even more successful if they grow and promote into management existing employees from diverse backgrounds.

Tech can have a reputation as a “boys club,” with many publicly documented cases where people from diverse backgrounds have been disadvantaged at specific tech companies.

“To avoid being grouped with the rest of the IT sector, companies need to combine clear statements about their intent and actions toward building a diverse and inclusive culture, with a level of transparency about their current state and progress towards goals,” he said. “Statements without action are worse than doing nothing.”

Those points were seconded by Deb Hill, director of HR for workspace management specialist FM:Systems, who said businesses must be intentional when it comes to their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) profile. 

“Software and IT have typically been primarily male and white, and so the challenge is how to do we change that dynamic within the organization,” she said. “We really believe that support comes from the top.”  

Hill explained it’s about ensuring that diverse viewpoints are amplified throughout the organization, and how you build talent development programs that help the next generation of leaders be more diverse. “Internally, we have an employee resource group called GROW—Growing Relationships and Opportunities for Women—in place for a couple of years,” she continued. “This group has provided a way for women in technology to connect more deeply and talk about challenges specific to women, and it serves as a peer support group. That has contributed to the increase number of females in the organization over the past two years. 

Hill’s company is currently establishing other employee resource groups, such as one for people of color. “We want those groups to be employee led,” she noted. “This isn’t an HR initiative: We want employees to feel like they have a say in what kind of content they want, what sorts of career development opportunities would be best for them.” 

FM:Systems CEO Kurt von Koch admitted there’s been a lot of lip service paid to diversity initiatives, adding many organizations say the candidates “just aren’t there.” His experience suggests that when you go out and make the added effort, it can be done.

“It’s in the actual numbers and in the actual makeup of your organization—how you get to that is showing your progress and providing that transparency throughout the organization,” he said. “Here’s our progress, here are the successes, and here’s where we’re still behind—being transparent is another important element of where the rubber meets the road.”  

Heather Paunet, Senior Vice President at Untangle, a San Jose, Calif.-based provider of comprehensive network security for SMBs, said cybersecurity, as an industry, thrives because so many professionals come from different backgrounds and skill sets. 

Some general advice for employers to attract a more diverse security workforce: Go beyond the standard EEO statement. Show your progress on your website. Work with associations such as International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals (ICMCP) to support and bring in diverse talent.

“Making hiring managers aware of general actions that can lead to a less diverse security workforce can be helpful,” she said. “Without thinking about it too deeply, we can have a natural pull towards people that are more like us based on their backgrounds and skill sets and education, and perhaps work experience.”

Lisa Plaggemier, chief strategy officer at MediaPro, a Seattle, Washington-based provider of cybersecurity and privacy education, pointed out that, while a lot of people will lay the responsibility for fostering a culture of inclusivity at the feet of senior leadership or HR, the reality is it’s up to every individual.

“Companies are made up of individuals, and the way you conduct yourself matters,” she said. “Don’t wait for a corporate ‘program’ or training—take the initiative yourself to make your team a better place for people who come from underrepresented groups. If you’re in a managerial role, consider that everyone doesn’t respond to the same management style.”

That may mean you need to adjust to connect with and foster high-potential talent from different backgrounds. “The best bosses I’ve worked for were men who understood how to mentor women—many of us tend to be more risk adverse and less bold than our male counterparts—so they altered their management style to work with me on my challenges,” she continued. “At the end of the day, I think it comes down to culture—company culture, team culture. You want to create a culture where everyone feels welcome and comfortable. People feel it when they interview with your team.”

As Hill pointed out, if you’re not retaining diverse talent, trying to attract that diverse talent is for naught. “Increasingly, the focus is still on diversity, but it’s about that inclusion part and how we ensure employees feel connected and they feel like they belong in the organization,” she said. “As an employee, I want to be able to bring my whole self to work, and how I can feel more connected to the people I work with, both the people who have similar backgrounds and experiences, and those who have different backgrounds and experiences.”  

News organizations struggle to meet diversity pledges despite key hires

“We want employees to know we’re not just window-washing,” said one media diversity executive.

After last year’s killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, many digital and print media outlets pledged to address the discussions about the nation’s race relations problems by starting with their own workforces. They created diversity and inclusion positions, hired more people of color and launched new programs aimed at reducing racial bias.

Then came a series of well-publicized and diverse hirings in the print and digital space: Condé Nast-owned Bon Appétit brought in Dawn Davis as editor-in-chief and Sonia Chopra as its executive editor. The Boston Globe promoted Anica Butler to a deputy editor role. Samira Nasr became top editor of the U.S. edition of Hearst-owned Harper’s Bazaar. And Vice-owned Refinery 29 brought in Simone Oliver to run the site. Condé Nast also added an executive-level role focused on diversity and inclusion to address broader problems it had identified.

“It’s actually kind of shocking to see how many Black people have been elevated to higher positions. It’s amazing and we don’t take this moment lightly,” said Emil Wilbekin, an activist and a contributing writer to numerous publications, including The New York Times and Essence magazine. “But there’s always been a lack of Black professionals. So playing catch up is tough.”

But newly released data shows that beyond these few key hires, very little has changed when it comes to newsroom diversity. Hiring and employee data collected by Condé Nast, Hearst and Vice show that minorities remain underrepresented at nearly every level of these companies and across departments. Also, while some companies showed improvements in the hiring of employees of color, at most companies, the majority of new jobs continued to be filled by white people.

NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News and MSNBC, has also worked to address its own diversity issues. In 2020, NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Cesar Conde announced a goal that the news group staff be made up of 50 percent women and 50 percent people of color, but did not specify a timeline. Since his commitment, there have been more hires and promotions of people of color, including the appointment of Rashida Jones as president of MSNBC. Newly released date for the news group shows that since this goal was announced, 49.2% of new full-time staff hires have been people of color.

“We definitely need to do more work,” Wilbekin said. “There are so many talented Black journalists and content creators who leave the media industry because there seems to be this glass ceiling that can’t be broken. They don’t see a clear path for themselves.”

Now that news outlets have made a few strategic hires, media executives are realizing just how much they have to do as they try to tackle these bigger and deeper problems, from coming up with plans to listen to employees’ concerns better to seeking out more diverse job candidates and instituting internal training aimed at reducing bias.

“I am excited that we have come to a place in corporate U.S. discussions where race is on the table as a topic of discussion and not something people have to hide,” said Yashica Olden, the newly hired global chief diversity and inclusion officer at Condé Nast. “I also realize this is not a sprint. This is a real journey and we’ve got to give ourselves time to get to where we want. That’s the challenge. I have to be realistic about where we are.”

Gradual change

That’s something that Daisy Auger-Domínguez, Vice Media Group’s new Chief People Officer, said she has also realized. She’s currently working on what she calls a job architecture report that she plans to release to employees in the next month or so that will help map out a long-term path forward.

“We’ll be able to transparently share with employees across the company what their job level is and what it takes to go to the next job level,” she said. “Most organizations struggle with that.”

Auger-Domínguez was hired in May, just weeks before employees at Refinery29, a women’s lifestyle publication, spoke out about broader racism they experienced at the organization. Editor-in-chief Christene Barberich resigned in what she said hoped would “help diversify our leadership in editorial.” (Her replacement, Oliver, is a Black woman with more than 13 years of experience at The New York Times, Condé Nast, Facebook and Instagram.)

Following the upheaval at Refinery29, Auger-Domínguez immediately set out on a “listening” tour with CEO Nancy Dubuc wherein they met with every employee at the company. She also made changes to existing practices, such as performance reviews, to reduce bias.

“The underpinnings of a lot of inequity in organizations is just poorly constructed systems and racially defined systems,” she said. “We want employees to know we’re not just window-washing. We’re fixing the systems that resulted in the outcomes people were experiencing.”

Magazine culture

In October, Olden joined Condé Nast as its first global chief diversity and inclusion officer to address these problems at the company’s 37 brands. Olden has more than 20 years of experience working in the diversity and inclusion space and helping companies improve their workplaces. But she joined a company that was struggling with race issues.

Former Bon Appétit editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport resigned after a photo of him in a racially insensitive Halloween costume surfaced on social media. Allegations of racial discrimination were also publicized by employees, who spoke out against Bon Appétit’s culture and treatment of minorities. Also In June, allegations of racism arose at Condé Nast’s Vogue with employees complaining of instances both in the office and in some of the magazine’s content. These Condé Nast titles tried to make early changes with Bon Appétit’s top level hires and Vogue’s pledge that 15 percent of the freelancers it would hire would be Black. Since then, six of its seven covers have featured Black stars or artists.

But Olden recognizes that more work needs to be done — especially since a lot of this work to bring about cultural change and improve diversity often falls on employees of color, the very people who are being marginalized. Olden acknowledged that when companies seek the perspectives and cooperation of persons of color, it can be a lot to juggle with their regular jobs.

“It’s a lot of work and because it’s so passion-filled, it can be exhausting work for those of us who are trying to do this because we’re personally impacted by it,” Olden said.

Olden said that her plans to build out her team and efforts at Condé Nast will mirror much of what she has done in previous jobs with companies like WPP and Barclays Capital. In some instances, this has meant establishing diversity and inclusion as a core competency in annual review processes so that employees are then assessed and recognized for their contributions in this area, which might include things like leading a race or ethnicity-based employee resource group.

Dismal results

But these few hirings do not disguise the fact that most media organizations remain far from diverse. These newly published diversity studies show just how much work these companies need to do.

For instance, the diversity report Hearst released on Feb. 2 showed that, as of December, 73 percent of its full-time and part-time U.S.-based employees were white, while Black, Hispanic and Asian employees each made up 8 percent of the workforce.

White employees made up 64 percent of the people hired over the past 12 months, Asian and Black employees made up 11 percent and Hispanic workers made up 10 percent. Less than 1 percent of employees identified as either American Indian or Alaska Native or as Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. Hearst declined to comment for this article.

Vice Media Group, which released its own 2020 diversity report on Feb. 4, had a 3.9 percent increase in its number of employees of color from the year before. It also reported that roughly 54 percent of its new hires were people of color, a 9.1 percent increase from the year prior. It also reported an increase in diversity among its executive team. However, 58 percent of all U.S. employees still identified as white.

At Condé Nast, from January to August 2020, 69 percent of employees identified as white, 10 percent as Asian, 7.5 percent as Black, 6 percent as Latinx and just over 4 percent as multiracial or other. Of the new hires during this period 53 percent were white.

Richard Prince, a columnist at Journal-isms.comwho covers diversity issues in the media industry, notes that it may take giving these newly created diversity positions more authority to keep employees accountable. He notes that with time, media outlets have the ability to diversify newsrooms — if they choose to.

“There is progress, but when I walk into some of these newsrooms I get blinded by the whiteness,” Prince said. “Basically if companies truly want to [increase diversity] and change the culture, they find a way to get it done.”

Lauren Maillian on Diversity, Inclusion and Professional Parity

The CEO of digitalundivided sat down with Worth to discuss the achievements of female founders of color, while acknowledging that progress is still slow and many barriers remain.

t’s hard to imagine Lauren Maillian ever sitting still—she exudes an energy and a drive that’s infectious and at times hard to keep up with. Maillian is the CEO of digitalundivided, an incubator for Black and Latinx female entrepreneurs. It’s a perfect fit for Maillian, who’s both founded her own businesses and been an active investor in startups for years. An astute, candid observer of the business landscape, Maillian celebrates the achievements of female founders of color, while acknowledging that progress is achingly slow and that many barriers remain.  

Q: Tell me broadly where you think America stands today in terms of diversity and inclusion, compared to five or 10 years ago.

A: I think that we have not come very far in five or 10 years. And you’re speaking to someone raised in New York City at a time when there was no conversation around diversity. So that means you’re also speaking to someone who is a little numb to the conversation. And I’m now a parent in this conversation as well, seeing how far we haven’t come. I think that in these last 12 months, the conversation on inclusion and diversity has become a very black and white conversation where I think there are still so many scales and hues in between that need to be acknowledged and nurtured, discussed and appreciated before we can ever get to real diversity.RELATEDGroundbreakers 2021: 50 Women Changing the World

What’s driving that conversation?

I think the conversation is being driven by the racial reckoning we experienced in the summer. It is unfortunate, and very disheartening to me, that that has to be a series of events that take place in real life. And we still didn’t have the social change! So the totality of the cost is still TBD as far as I’m concerned, because people are dying every day, it just doesn’t make the news. I think the conversation is also being spurred by conscious consumerism and by people of color finally saying, “no, we’re actually not going to do this.” It’s an old school mechanism to show your power. 

I wanted to talk about the ProjectDiane 2020 report and the findings about who’s getting funding and how you look at this report today, versus a couple of years ago.

I think the importance of the report is to underscore the disparities, the impediments and the contributions to the successes of women of color in spaces of innovation and in entrepreneurship. I think that the report initially was more of a signal and talking piece to open the door to the conversation around inclusion, in technology and innovations for women of color. I think it succeeded at doing that. And then I think that the purpose of the report moved from empower-and-inspire to track/analyze.

And then, that’s when the data came in: let us prove our worth. Let us prove out that we are scrappy with money. Let us prove out that we can get to beta testing. It’s now about changing the numbers that we do see because for a long time, there weren’t many numbers to be had to track.

So how do you see the numbers? You could argue, on the one hand, we’re still talking about a fairly small slice of all venture capital going to these women, right? On the other hand, the numbers are up and the funding numbers are up. I’m curious where you come out on that.

The numbers are up, but we still don’t have parity. Are we doing better than we did yesterday? Sure, but is the rest of the world being measured by the same measuring stick? The problem is not that we aren’t seeing progress, it’s that the progress is slow. And then in addition to that, the progress is especially slow in comparison to non-minority counterparts, who are able to leapfrog ahead at the same times where we’re looking at our progress as something that isn’t even something to celebrate, because it’s still a snail’s pace compared to everyone else.RELATEDHow Erica Lee Became the First Female CEO of Historical Publisher Marquis Who’s Who

Can you say a little more about your concept of parity?

What cripples most women of color is that you have a piece of the puzzle, but you never have all the pieces of the puzzle at the same time so that you can actually move. I think that having more fund managers who are people of color and women of color will also lead to that professional parity, because there are businesses that some people just simply don’t understand. I think the way that the funding disparity plays out can be dangerous when it becomes racially charged. And when we see a very clear demarcation in winners and losers, or those who can be perceived to be the ones who succeed and the ones who failed.

To me, professional parity is being able to win and succeed by similar standards, to be judged based upon similar standards. I know that women of color do not get to fail the 2.5 times on average that a non-minority male founder gets to fail. We don’t get those escapes. We just don’t. And so that’s what professional parity is for me. I want that treatment to be similar because when women of color fail, our failure marks us.

Do you see change happening at the VC firm level? Are we seeing more female partners? Are we seeing more partners of color?

I think we’re seeing more women, absolutely, in VC. But I’m not seeing many women of color—not any new ones. I have not seen many black women step into that role. And when they do, it’s often to launch their own thing, to go out on their own.RELATEDThis Is What Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Efforts Will Look Like in 2021

How much do you expect the change in the administration in Washington and the change in the Senate to create improvement in the diversity? Or do you think this is systemic, and so it doesn’t matter very much who’s in power? 

I think the issues are systemic. And I think that who’s in charge and who has the ability to fix the system that we live within is exactly how we’re going to get to both professional parity, any sort of social change that can be sustainable and inclusive. So I think it’s up to the administration to make it a point. And so far, we’ve seen some executive orders pointing in that direction already. It’s still unfortunate to me to make that like a rule or a law that says “Black people didn’t have to ride in the back of the bus anymore.” So maybe we just need more rules. As a little girl, eight, nine, 10 years old, I remember my dad telling me he had to drink out of another water fountain. He had to ride the back of the bus. That was the life my parents lived. Luckily it’s not the life my children live, but I don’t know that their experiences are any less traumatizing in their own way to them as well.

Lauren Maillian will be speaking at our Women & Worth Summit 2021: Actions Speak Louder Than Words, taking place March 2-4. You can register here or below.

Three Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) Blindspots in the Tech Industry

Hiring with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) can help create a workforce and world that’s based on fairness and diversity.

Over the past couple of years, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) has been the talk of the town, particularly in the cybersecurity and technology communities. You’ve probably gotten at least one company email about diversity and inclusion, watched a TED talk or attended some type of training or presentation.

Between all the arguing taking place online and between talking heads on TV, the concepts of DEI have been both eye-opening and confusing to many people. Discussing disparities, statistics and next steps have left many people less certain than when they began. And being ignorant to — or overwhelmed by — information can result in the same inaction.

If we can identify and refocus on a few simple blindspots, we can keep moving forward and create a workforce and world that’s based on fairness and welcoming diversity.

1. Implicit Bias in the Hiring Process

When we think of inequality in hiring, we tend to think of some egregious act — like a storefront sign saying, “Not hiring *insert race/gender/religion.” The reality is that these transgressions are far more subtle. When thinking about discrimination on a conscious level, we’re still only painting a partial picture. Whether we’re well-intentioned or not, we may unknowingly hold on to biases that create barriers and roadblocks for others.

Something as simple as posting a job exclusively on LinkedIn, for instance, can unintentionally block well-qualified, diverse candidates. Assuming that LinkedIn is the only viable resource for professional candidates creates a confirmation bias that can significantly diminish your talent pool.

Posting on diversity-centric job boards not only expands your candidate pool, but also sends a message about your company’s culture before a candidate applies. DyversifiThe MusePower to Fly are examples of excellent resources for diversity recruitment and are great ways to promote your company culture. And while implicit bias can extend well-beyond the hiring process, checking these biases at the door can help affect change and prevent future setbacks.

2. The Language in Your Job Descriptions

Inclusivity in the language of a job description is often overlooked — and it’s very important. The way we structure the language in a description can not only limit the applicant pool, but it can fortify bias and further contribute to a non-diverse workplace.

Language can discourage certain candidates from applying, by using loaded or gender-specific words like dominantleadercompetitive, and others. Resources like this free gender decoder for job descriptions can help highlight these word choices and offer more inclusive replacements and recommendations.

Without identifying and understanding these nuances, many hiring managers are unknowingly limiting the type of talent that’ll be interested in applying for their roles.

3. Diversity and Inclusion Is Not Just an HR or PR Problem

There’s a misconception that DEI is only important to human resources or public relations — meaning litigation and public appearance.

To be clear, this is a serious concern as roughly 70,000 workplace discrimination cases are filed per year and an average settlement totals to $40,000 — and we’ve seen countless brands go under due to some public disaster. But the conversation doesn’t stop there.

DEI is necessary across the entire workplace as the world continues to evolve and we become increasingly aware of the very real barriers that exist for so many today. Studies show that diverse environments are not only more innovative and successful, but also increase productivity while reducing attrition. In an industry like cybersecurity where the skills and talent gaps are continuously growing, innovation, productivity and retention are crucial to bridging these gaps.

These concepts can seem difficult and overwhelming at times — perhaps even frustrating — but with the right approach and mindset, we can all look for opportunities to introduce positive changes within the organizations we work with and represent.

SHAREFacebookTwitterMorgan Cameronhttps://www.huntress.com/

Morgan Cameron is a recruiter at Huntress and is instrumental in ensuring the company’s core value of diversity plays an integral role in its hiring efforts. Recognizing a lack of diversity in the tech industry, Morgan has spent much of her career advocating for equity and recruitment for under-represented talent.

Morgan has led diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) workshops, conducted implicit bias trainings and developed company policies to promote diversity and equity. She’s also successfully implemented inclusive recruitment strategies and organized ERGs for LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC associates. She is a true DEI advocate and firmly believes diversity, equity and inclusion are essential to a company’s success.

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