Nonfiction in response to Gender Equality
May 2018
By Grace Muresan

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Image Credit: Grace Muresan

Diversity

A diverse workplace is where people from different cultures and countries, or with a different race or gender work together (According to the ILO –International Labor Organization). A diverse workplace is the key in every company to a strong, inclusive, and sustainable business. Having diversity in our workplace makes us more creative and helps us understand others better. Diversity jolts us into cognitive action in ways that homogeneity simply does not.

 

The Tech Industry

STEM jobs are the most important occupations that need to be diverse because they drive innovation, and in turn take charge of the advancement of humanity. Therefore, in this op-ed, I am going to focus on the diversity in the technology industry.

Unfortunately, diversity numbers in tech companies in America and around the world are far too low to help kickstart advancement. When I focused more on the American workforce, I found statistical data from year 2014, which was gathered by the EEOC (the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). As you see from chart 1, the number of white men in all industries towers over the numbers of workers from all minority groups, including women.

 

Chart 1: Industry Participation by Gender Sex and Race Groups High Tech vs. All Private Industries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why is diversity in some (U.S.) companies so low? Because recruiters in American companies are often biased to white men. 

 

In a blind test, professors with male names were rated higher than those with female names, regardless of their actual gender. Job candidates with "white sounding" names were rated higher than those with "black sounding" names. Looking at an identical case study, people preferred the male name over the female. All this, according to the article, is due to the stereotype that white men are more likeable, hireable, and trustworthy than other groups.

 

Gender Equality Movement

I went to a presentation by Tracy Chou at The Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Series at Stanford University. She is 31 years old in 2018 and a woman, yet she has achieved so much, and has broken nearly all stereotypes made for women. First, she studied AI [Artificial Intelligence] and Machine Learning at Stanford and received a master’s degree for those high-tech subjects. She worked in Quora and Pinterest as a software engineer, and had internship experience at Rocket Fuel, Google, and Facebook.

During her undergraduate study in Computer Science, she recalled feeling out of place because she was one of the only women there. However, despite low confidence in the beginning of her studies, she later found that she was outperforming her male colleagues in their coursework.

 

Tracy Chou realized the importance of diversity, as she said in her presentation. She felt deserving of all she achieved, and she knew that she was one in a few, but whenever she mentioned the topic of the dominancy of white men in all tech and STEM related fields, she was chided, nearly convinced that it never existed, and that STEM fields were based on the concept of meritocracy.

 

Although her realization was disregarded, she did not give up on the hopes of a diverse future for all companies. In 2013, she attended the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, and decided to gather data to assess the problem of low diversity in tech companies.

 

In 2016 she helped launch a diversity consulting group called Project Include, with other like-minded business women, to improve opportunities for all employees, including all underrepresented groups. The project gives advice to large companies on how to slowly incorporate diversity into their workforce as they hire more employees.

 

Is It Worth Diversifying?

Incorporating diversity is difficult at first, but the effort of hiring workers based solely on how their skills and experience match the company’s needs, not the uncomplicated way by gender and race preference, will improve the company’s performance.

McKinsey Consulting released their research in the link between Diversity and Financial Performance in January 2018. They used more than 1000 companies from 12 countries for their study. Chart 2 showed the specific results of the Gender Diversity and its correlation with companies’ financial performance. The research showed that the top 55 companies with highest female executive members produced higher EBIT by 21%, compared to the bottom 45 companies with the lowest female executive members. Additionally, the top 23 companies with highest female executive members had 27% higher Economic Profit Margin than their 18 counterparts who had the lowest female executive members.

 

Gallup studies suggest that having more women as executive members will be beneficial because:

  • Men and women have different viewpoints, ideas, and market insights, which enables better problem solving, ultimately leading to superior performance at the business unit level.

  • A gender-diverse workforce provides easier access to resources, such as various sources of credit, multiple sources of information, and wider industry knowledge.

  • A gender-diverse workforce allows the company to serve an increasingly diverse customer base.

  • Gender diversity helps companies attract and retain talented women. This is especially relevant as more women join the labor force around the world. Companies cannot afford to ignore 50% of the potential workforce and expect to be competitive in the global economy.

 

Chart 2: Gender Diversity on Executive Teams and Its Correlation with Profitability (measured by EBIT -Earnings Before Interest and Taxes) and Value Creation (measured by Economic Profit Margin)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Next

Diversity is extremely important for the world’s companies to stay healthy and sustainable and to boost productivity. Incorporating diversity is difficult, but it is doable, and proven to be financially more profitable.

 

Tracy Chou is one of many amazing female role models and a strong fighter for company diversity. If the world had more people like her, the degrading stereotypes for women would be fixed, or at least lessened.

 

I am an 11-year-old girl, and my dream job is to be a forensic pathologist. Due to my age, I cannot influence the workplace… yet. But thanks to Actions in Spotlight, I can use my talent of writing to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals and have a voice to advocate and empower; in this article, for goal number five: Gender Equality.

 

Sources:

 

Business Insider, 2015 - http://www.businessinsider.com/psychology-biases-that-benefit-white-men-2015-2

Gallup Poll, 2014 - http://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/166220/business-benefits-gender-diversity.aspx

International Labor Organization, 2014 - http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_norm/---declaration/documents/publication/wcms_340481.pdf

McKinsey Consulting, 2018 - https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/delivering-through-diversity

Scientific American, 2014 - https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-diversity-makes-us-smarter/

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2015 - https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/reports/hightech/

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