Diversity & Inclusion Key To Driving Tech Skilling
At the most fundamental human level, encouraging diversity is a moral imperative; it is simply the right thing to do. Even for organisations that only consider their bottom line, diversity has been shown to improve revenues. According to a 2018 study by the Boston Consulting Group, the revenues of businesses with more diverse management teams were up to 19 per cent higher of those without.
Granted, businesses benefit from diversity. Bringing people together from various social, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds fosters innovation and creativity by allowing people to share their experiences and opinions. Team members who vary in age, gender, and even disability benefit from each other’s perspectives, making it more likely that products and solutions will resonate with a broader market.
Being intentional in addressing diversity and inclusion requires us to broaden our talent pipeline. This necessitates a shift in who we consider qualified for the profession, as well as broadening the net to include a diverse range of people from all backgrounds.
At the Africa Development Centre, we strive to be a diverse company with an inclusive culture. Each day, we apply the same relentless focus, willingness to learn, and creative thinking we use to develop products and services to help us collectively innovate for inclusion.
Our efforts to grow the tech talent pool have diversity and inclusion at their core. We are casting a wide net from a young age to create a strong talent pipeline that will supply the tech talent pool in the future. For example, we are attracting younger children to technology careers through our Game of Learners Junior initiative. DigiGirlz, on the other hand, focuses on girls in primary and secondary school to mentor them as they pursue STEM-related courses.
At the university level, we have the Game of Learners competition, which brings students from all backgrounds together to learn and build solutions to real-world problems. We also have a mentorship program for women at the university level and in the early stages of their careers, with quarterly meet-ups that put them in the same room as tech professionals.
Yet another part of our commitment to diversity and inclusion, we have begun working with Sight Savers International to provide technology training to people with disabilities in Kenya. We hope that this collaboration will help them improve their skills and diversify the tech talent pool for the benefit of the entire ecosystem.
This directly builds on our disability inclusion ethos which has been baked into our business strategy for a long time. Every Microsoft product, for instance, contains ease of accessibility features that are designed to help people with various disabilities make the most out of them.
Our goal is to empower the continent with technological tools and solutions, and diversity and inclusion are the best tools in our toolbox. Celebrating and embracing our differences as individuals increase our chances of developing solutions and products that work for everyone.
Even though diversity and inclusion have been discussed for a long time, there is still a long way to go before everyone has adequate representation in the tech industry, which will translate to products made for people like them. I would call on communities, individuals, businesses and the government to consider the benefits associated with having a diverse team and embrace diversity and inclusion as part of their key initiatives and strategies.
Catherine is the Managing Director, Microsoft Africa Development Centre