Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: How To Be An Ally of DEI
As a society, we are currently reckoning with the long-standing, systemic injustice of racism. The tech industry is no exception – in fact, it’s well-documented that tech has a serious diversity problem.
The industry has long been criticized for its lack of diversity, with minorities and women vastly underrepresented compared to white men. The numbers don’t lie – men hold over 79% of all executive leadership positions in tech, whereas women hold a dismal 5% of leadership positions.
This lack of diversity not only creates an environment that can be unwelcoming and hostile towards those who don’t fit the traditional mold, but it also means that important perspectives are missing from work cultures across tech companies.
The tech industry must do better when it comes to recruiting and retaining diverse talent. But inclusion is also about more than just numbers; it’s about creating an environment where everyone feels welcome, respected, and valued. This starts with improving communication and collaboration among team members from different backgrounds. It also requires being aware of unconscious bias and taking steps to address it.
Why DEI Matters More Than Ever Today
The first step in being an ally of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is understanding what it means. Diversity refers to the inclusion of people with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Equity is ensuring that everyone has what they need to be successful. Inclusion is creating an environment where everyone feels welcome, respected, and valued.
DEI is about building a workplace (and society) where everyone can belong and thrive, regardless of their background or identity. This is crucial not only for the moral imperative of justice, but also for the sake of business success. For example, studies have shown that organizations with a more diverse workforce tend to outperform their less diverse counterparts financially. Additionally, if your team consists primarily of people who share similar backgrounds, then this lack of diversity can lead to tunnel vision when it comes to product development and design.
A diverse workforce is a creative and innovative one – it allows for different perspectives and ideas to be brought to the table. This, in turn, leads to better products and services. Inclusivity is also key to attracting and retaining top talent. Candidates are increasingly looking for workplaces that reflect their values around DEI – over 76% of candidates report diversity as a key factor while applying for jobs, according to Glassdoor. So companies that don’t prioritize DEI will miss out on attracting the best and brightest minds.
At the heart of it, everyone deserves to be treated fairly and with respect regardless of who they are or what they look like. DEI is, therefore, essential for creating a just and successful society – both moral and pragmatic considerations make it clear that we can’t afford to ignore this issue any longer.
The Importance of Allyship
The term “ally” is often used to describe someone who supports and stands up for the rights of another person or group. In the context of diversity, equity, and inclusion, allyship refers to an ongoing process of learning about and taking action to support marginalized groups.
Being an ally is not merely about being a nice person or feeling good about yourself. It’s about more than just supporting the people in your life who identify as part of a marginalized group – it’s about taking concrete action to make our workplaces, industries, and society more equitable for everyone. It’s about creating inclusive environments and challenging injustices when you see them.
Allies do this by using their privilege and platform to raise awareness about the issues faced by underrepresented groups, amplify marginalized voices, and support diversity initiatives.
What Does It Mean To Be a DEI Ally?
To be an ally of DEI generally means that you are supportive of equal opportunity and fairness for all, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other form of diversity.
Being an effective ally is not easy. It requires ongoing education and reflection. It’s not enough to simply have good intentions – you must also take action. The challenges facing marginalized communities are complex, it’s important to be mindful and not inadvertently perpetuate harm while trying to do good.
An ally of DEI is someone who:
- Understands that DEI is about creating a level playing field for everyone
- Recognizes that unconscious bias exists and can impact decision making
- Is committed to actively learning more about DEI and how they can be an advocate for these values
- Takes actions to further DEI in their workplace, such as speaking up or passing the mic when they witness bias or microaggressions
5 Ways You Can Be An Active Ally of DEI
Wherever you find yourself in your DEI allyship journey, keep these principles in mind – center the experiences of those most impacted by injustice, listen more than you speak, check your ego at the door, collaborate instead of trying to lead, always strive to do better, and be accountable for your words and actions.
Here are 5 things you can do to build a culture of inclusion and diversity –
1. Be an exceptional listener
This means being attentive to the experiences and perspectives of others, and truly hearing what they are saying. It also means being open-minded and willing to learn about things that may be outside of your own personal experience.
DEI allies need to be able to have difficult conversations about race, gender, sexuality, and other topics related to identity. They must also be willing to challenge their own beliefs and assumptions, and grow along with the people they are championing.
2. Understand your privilege and put it to good use
One’s privilege can come from many different factors, such as race, gender, class, education, and more. It is important for allies to be aware of the privileges they hold so that they can learn how to use them in a way that benefits marginalized communities.
This means using your privilege to amplify the voices of those who are sidelined and working to create opportunities for them. It also means using your platform to call out racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of bigotry when you see them.
For example, if you’re a white person working in tech, you can use your position of power to mentor people of color or advocate for fairer hiring practices. If you’re a man, you can extend support to women and especially those who are underrepresented in more ways than one (intersectional identities are important to understand).
3. Educate yourself on how to support others better
This means learning about the history and experiences of marginalized groups, understanding the ways in which systemic inequalities impact people’s lives, and staying up-to-date on current events and developments related to DEI. It is important for allies to take the onus of their learning.
Of course, being an ally is not just about what you do at work – it’s also about changing the way you think and act in your everyday life. That includes things like checking your own biases, promoting inclusive language and behavior in social settings, and using your voice to speak up against discrimination when you witness it. Educating yourself is the gateway to building an inclusive workplace and society at large.
4. Advocate for inclusive policies and practices
This can include promoting DEI initiatives to leadership, speaking up about discriminatory or exclusionary practices, and working to create a more inclusive environment for all employees. Measures such as implementing hiring quotas for underrepresented groups, offering training on unconscious bias, and increasing transparency around pay and promotion processes also play a pivotal role in fostering inclusion on scale.
5. Offer sponsorship
As a sponsor, you can provide mentorship, advice, and even financial support to help your protégé succeed. By offering your time and expertise, you can help level the playing field and create more opportunities for everyone.
Sponsoring a DEI event is another great way to show your support for increasing diversity in the tech industry. Doing so helps create opportunities for people from underrepresented groups to connect with each other and learn about new career opportunities.
The Time To Build An Inclusive Tech Workforce Is Now
When underrepresented groups see that there are people in positions of power who are committed to making change, it can inspire hope and encourage them to participate in the field. Allies bridge the gap between the marginalized and the dominant by catalyzing change at a systemic level.
As a minority-owned business, BayOne prides itself on being an active ally of DEI. Our #MakeTechPurple initiative is committed to boosting the percentage of women in technology. Through workshops, training, bias reduction screenings, and implementing a neutral vetting process, we are doing our bit to build a diverse and inclusive workforce.