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How To Stop Excluding Minorities In Tech

July 28, 2020
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written by Amber Dawson
Copywriter

The diversity in tech conversation continues with insights from people around the world. Here, we outline how we can be more inclusive of minorities in the workplace.

Last week, we heard from some of our staff about the lack of diversity in tech. Now, we’ve widened the conversation to others’ experiences in the MarTech industry. This includes everyone from CEOs and co-founders to those newer to their roles.

Here’s a list of what you could be doing to make others uncomfortable in your workplace, voiced by those who have experienced it first hand.

1. Don’t make ‘jokes’

“In SEO in particular, there seems to be a general acceptance of making jokes which are very near the cuff, often about race or sexuality. I myself have seen people making jokes or disparaging comments, especially about Indian people on SEO groups or disparaging comments, and everybody joining in. It’s one thing to talk about your experience with workers from overseas, but there does need to be a line drawn about what is acceptable to say.

“Speaking about the issue with peers in the industry hasn’t always been received well. I was told by some that “it’s in my head” and even to “stop thinking you’re at a disadvantage”. But speaking to other people of colour, they do think there is a major issue. It’s not overt, and it’s not always ‘in your face racism’, but there is a clear diversity issue in marketing.”

Amit Raj, Amit Digital Marketing

Racist language has no place in the workplace, or anywhere else in this world. ‘Joking’ about something doesn’t take away its meaning and make it okay to say. You may not even realise what you’re saying is racist; it’s important to be self-aware and recognise the effects your words have on others around you.

It’s important to call people out on their racist language, whether it affects us directly or not. If you’re the only person in the room offended, it can be hard to speak out. The tech industry is a place which strives for a better future every day – wouldn’t it be nice if we could extend this mentality to our working environments and make them a hate-free space?

2. Judge talent, not skin colour

“While the field allows for the creative freedom I long for, it can be quite difficult standing out when you’re often in a room with people that don’t look like you. As frustrating as it can be at times, I also don’t find it fair that I have to work twice as hard and be held accountable more than my counterparts.”

Nilaja Croft, Leda Health Company

Diverse people commonly feel overlooked and that their performance is overshadowed by their race. This industry, and all others, is hindering its own success by choosing appearance over talent. Minorities are aware of this bias and it makes them feel undervalued; whether you’re female in a male-dominated world, part of the LGBTQ+ community or from a minority background, you’re punished for your differences.

It’s not okay for the world to have an arbitrary set of rules which make up an ‘ideal’ – this is not Hitler’s Aryan race.

3. Don’t pretend there isn’t an issue

“You would have to be naïve if you don’t understand how deeply racism is rooted in every part of our world and it’s working. To think that it does not exist or it’s not a big issue is very ignorant behaviour. I come from a travelling and marketing background and this industry is also no different from racism and its ill-effects.”

Jennifer, Editor at Etia.com

If your workplace is a happy place for you – great. Sadly, this is not the case for everyone and your experience may be positive down to the way you look.

Racism is all around and if you’re unable to see it, it doesn’t mean it’s not there, but rather you’re privileged enough that it’s not affected you. By working together, we can bring awareness to the lack of diverse representation in tech.

4. Embrace the differences

“Throughout my 10-year career working in MarComm and transitioning as a technical product manager, I’m used to being the minority in the room – the only Latina, the only female and the youngest.

“In many ways it’s what set me apart from everyone else in the room who may have been raised listening to certain music, watching certain classic movies that I didn’t grow up watching. Subtle things like that made it difficult to connect with colleagues on a personal level.”

Nicole Caba, Founder & CEO of Avvinue

Not everyone has the same point of reference. Just like we didn’t all grow up watching the same TV shows, around the same friends or at the same schools, different cultures have different home lives. We are shaped by the way we are raised. It’s common that anything different to our own experiences feels alien, but that doesn’t mean they should make us uncomfortable.

The best ideas come from different POVs – diversity in the workplace strengthens our ideas.

5. Deliver on promises

“After recent BLM protests gained traction, many VCs started putting out public statements of support for Black entrepreneurs. Several posted their desire to help improve the abysmally low numbers of Black founders that receive funding.

So, Nerissa reached out with her professional pitch deck to every VC she could find who made these promises. What she discovered is that, not only was it nearly impossible to even find contact info for these VCs but after reaching out to them she didn’t receive a single response UNTIL she began sending the exact same emails from her light-skinned Asian husband Jame’s accounts.”

Nerissa Zhang, CEO and Co-Founder of The Bright App

Sadly, this is a really common thing to happen. There’s loads of stories of people changing their names to sound whiter. The fact that this makes a difference is sickening. We shouldn’t judge someone based on their name; job applications should all be judged as if the names read ‘anonymous’.

If your company makes a promise, like an announcement on social media to improve diversity in your workplace, they should stick to it. For example, big tech firms have previously promised to hire more minorities but have yet to deliver. Statements like these are hollow words until any results are seen.

Adzooma’s promise

We encourage people to keep us accountable. The motivation behind Diversity Month on the blog has been to continue the conversation. The BLM movement has been a great way to draw attention to the wrongs that plague our society, but we still have a long way to go.

As a company, we’re putting in diversity training and workshops for our staff and plan to deliver workshops to schools within the Nottingham area too. We’re also appointing a company officer who’ll provide us with advice and hold us accountable for our actions.

Let’s listen to the voices of the people we’re excluding and fight for change within our industry.

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