8 Easy Ways to Find the Diversity Within

by Naomi Fitter
Naomi Fitter

Foreword: This article is dedicated to all the cisgender white men who have told me how diverse their engineering team is after showing a group photo clearly to the contrary.

Nowadays, everyone is always talking about how we need diverse workforces to solve challenging modern problems in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Bringing together people with different identities and perspectives can help generate ideas that would never have come about otherwise.

Hiring diverse workers can be great from the accounting perspective, too. On average, women are paid 79 cents for every dollar a man makes. A 5-for-the-price-of-4 deal, if you will! Underrepresented racial minorities come with a nice discount, too – roughly 10% off. At the same time, prospective hires from these groups can be hard to come by when recruiting through my contacts from Harvard class of ’95.

It’s just too hard to find qualified candidates from these underrepresented groups.

I was mulling over this predicament at lunch with Garrett, Todd, and Will, and looking out over our amazing group of coworkers, and something occurred to me – we don’t need to update our recruiting practices! We don’t need to administer blind screenings, or structure our interview process, or post results-based job descriptions. If someone is the best man for the job, he’ll be the one we hire!

Without changing any practices, we already have an incredible diversity right here in the office, and here are just some of the ways we stand out:

  1. Only 10% of the world’s population is left-handed, but our office boasts 15% lefties. These employees are used to extra day-to-day challenges (for example, getting elbowed during lunch and being possessed by the devil) that help them see the world in a different way. Plus, the multitude of left-handed desk setups in our office helps visitors and interviewees to see how much we value visible minorities in our workforce.
  2. All of the operating systems in our workspace run Ubuntu, which helps us celebrate the African heritage of none of our workers.
  3. Like all the companies out there, we want the strongest candidates to join our ranks, which means recruiting mostly from Ivy League schools and other top private universities. But after accidentally recruiting Dave (whose degree is actually from UMass Dartmouth, not the Dartmouth), we realized that there actually are some qualified students at public universities. We still don’t recruit public school grads actively, of course – who are we, Lockheed Martin? And we’re careful to screen out applicants from Maryland Institute of Technology after that one embarrassing incident…
  4. When Paul showed up at his interview towering over us at 6’3″, we felt like anyone would in that situation – to be frank, our masculinity was threatened, and we were worried about the potential costs of buying taller desks or even raising the urinals! He didn’t have a resume, but we couldn’t help but give him a chance. One unexpected plus is that he can reach the top shelf of our supply closet, where we keep the Christmas decorations. That’s been a big hit with the lady in HR… she’s sure to clean up under the mistletoe this year – in more ways than one.
  5. I was friends with Jack for years, and never realized that his great-grandfather emigrated to the U.S. from Ireland. My family itself emigrated from Austria. I never would have known from looking at him! He’s so well-spoken.
  6. A lot of companies out there converge on just one programming language, but our firm embraces a wide range of alternatives – we take pride in the fact that most of our employees are at least trilingual. Our developers program not just in the classics (like JavaScript, Scala, Python, and C#), but also upstart options like Rust and Elm. We even have one hardcore guy who uses Fortran! We don’t use Ruby or Julia, though – they don’t seem as qualified as the other programming languages.
  7. Our employees also shine in distinct ways based on what they do outside of the workday. Mark likes hiking, but Bill likes video games. John is a big fan of skiing. If you think about it, that’s not just three different hobbies – it’s three different climates!
  8. Michael volunteers at the local VA sometimes, and I’ve heard he knows like 20 veterans!

I hope these tips help you to discover the true diversity of your tech workforce. I know they help me sleep more soundly at night, and feel confident in maintaining the proud traditions of our company.

Equitably,

Thomas Manning (or Tommy, to the lady in HR)
A Recently Promoted Unimpressive White Male Manager

You may also like

Work

Let’s stay in touch!

Get a little Syn in your inbox!