You Asked: Why aren't more companies putting their weight behind diversity initiatives?

Undervaluing, Underpaying, Underrecognizing 

Non-white and women leaders who engage in diversity-increasing behaviors in the highest organizational ranks are systematically penalized with lower performance ratings for doing so.

Nonwhite and women leaders may increase their own chances of advancing up the corporate ladder by actually engaging in a very low level of diversity-valuing behavior... By downplaying their race and gender, these leaders may be worthy of being promoted into the highest organizational echelons.

Does Valuing Diversity Result in Worse Performance Ratings for Minority and Female Leaders? (Hekman and Woo, Aug 2014)

In a world where a business's bottom-line comes before anything else, industries profit from the unequal treatment of their employees. Marginalized people often have to go above and beyond the work being done by their more privileged coworkers to receive the same recognition. The problem is readily apparent for women of color, who make between 10 and 53% less than their white male counterparts. The situation is such that compensating people equally is seen as a radical act. In maintaining an undervalued workforce, businesses create even more profit. 

Industry-wide change isn't coming from within companies but, increasingly, from people who are able to operate outside them where the risk of being harassed, fired, or pushed out of the industry all together seems lower. When we're seeing companies actively punish marginalized people for speaking up, we have to question their mission statements proclaiming a committment to diversity.

Faux Enlightenment, redux

This is also manifested in people and organizations that are largely paying lip service to diversity without understanding what continues to contribute to the lack of diversity and why a lack of diversity hurts us all.

Feigned Shock and Faux Enlightenment, Ashe Dryden

While it's becoming harder for companies to ignore pressures to increase diversity, many find they're rewarded for doing barely more than those around them, removing the motivation to make real, lasting changes to their business practices and culture. Companies invest countless amounts of money on positive PR spin when someone calls out their sexist marketing or an employee using racial slurs against community members, while diversity initiatives are somehow forgotten during yearly budget discussions.

Instead, companies sell pinkified or rainbow versions of their branded tshirts.

As it is, the majority of companies aren't contributing to educating their own employees about biases and discriminatory behavior that effect the ability of marginalized people to get jobs, feel like they belong in their work culture, or realize the same career opportunities within their companies. And let's not even get into companies decrying that they can't release their diversity numbers due to trade secrets

Expecting a pat on the back for doing something everyone should be doing is disingenuous. I'd like to see the next great campaign for diversity in tech be a demand that companies show us, stop telling us how much they support diversity.

Somebody Else's Problem

The idea of women founders as a solution to tech misogyny makes existing male founders and investors unaccountable for misogyny as it exists today.

The Myth of Magical Futures, Kate Losse

On top of being compensated less, having to work more, and that work being undervalued, marginalized people are also expected to shoulder both the blame for and the solution to diversity. The oft-recited "root of the diversity problem in tech" seems to always fall back on the pipeline. Why aren't girls interested in programming? Why do youth of color not want to be software developers? This mindset completely overlooks the real barriers to entering the field and the strength needed to resist the very real forces pushing them out.

In companies that create diversity special interest committee, they're often tasked with increasing the hiring pool and promoting from within; generally ignoring the processes that created the issues in the first place, absolving themselves of wrongdoing. Additionally, companies volunteer (or voluntell) the few marginalized people within the company for the positions on the committee, making diversity within the company literally their problem.


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