In yet another article regarding “the new tech industry” and diversity, the question of whether it will serve as the silver bullet to address the old economy’s racial problems is asked. As we’ve read over the last months, the tech industry has significant diversity issues to overcome. Whether it’s education, talent, culture, or systemic – the lack of diversity won’t be solved anytime soon (sorry to say). Investing millions into new diversity initiatives is a positive step, however, it won’t change decades of cultural and structural barriers ingrained in Silicon Valley and beyond.
Even if they didn’t care about diversity for all its benefits, tech organizations should be intimately familiar with a large chunk of its market and potential workforce (women, Latinos, African Americans). Other industries are coming to understand how critical it is to integrate specific demographic groups into their workforce – not because its an HR initiative but because they see it as a financial necessity. Consider television networks that are losing market share to on-demand services:
Latino viewers are an increasingly important demographic for all networks. The Nielsen Company found that Hispanics in the US have over $1 trillion in purchasing power and represent more than half of US population growth between 2000-2010. Bi-lingual homes where both Spanish and English are spoken currently watch about 50% Spanish-language television, while English-dominant Hispanic households watch a mere 3% of Spanish-language TV. In other words, television networks need to win over this audience if they want to make up the shortfall left by formally loyal absconders. But at the moment few networks are catering for Latinos specifically.
The tech industry will only come to understand the opportunity of diversity when it’s presented in the form of profits/losses or market share. I think the industry will certainly come to recognize this in the long-term – which makes the future a bit brighter.