Don’t Lose Your Momentum!

October 1, 2023by Jennifer Murray0

Programs that promoted Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEI&B) gained momentum a few years ago. Since then, leadership positions and program funding have been cut in many organizations. The business case for hiring diverse team members is irrefutable. McKinsey & Company research “found that companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians. Companies in the bottom quartile in these dimensions are statistically less likely to achieve above-average returns. And diversity is probably a competitive differentiator that shifts market share toward more diverse companies over time.”

Furthermore, McKinsey & Company shared that “companies that are diverse, equitable, and inclusive are better able to respond to challenges, win top talent, and meet the needs of different customer bases.”

I learned about the value of diversity early in my career when I started with AT&T. Historically, technology companies were dominated by men. There were few women in technical sales and system consultant roles. AT&T invested heavily in training and employee development to break down the barriers to entry and advancement. I also sought out mentors to assist me with situations that were tough to navigate as a young person.

Throughout my career, I was involved in several initiatives to attract young women to the field of technology. Both AT&T and Cisco Systems encouraged women to meet with students on career days at school. One year, I tried to connect with the middle school girls by sharing my childhood hobbies with them. I thought we were likely to have some commonalities. I moved on through my career journey sharing the variety of jobs I held in large technology organizations. I highlighted my opportunities to travel across the country. Later that evening, I asked my daughter what her friends thought of the presentation. She told me they thought it was boring!

Each year on Bring Your Kid to Work Day, I brought my children into the office to learn more about my field and the wide range of career opportunities. They enjoyed the visit, but the events did not entice my daughter to pursue a job in technology.

Although my daughter did not start her career in technology, the state of North Carolina has increased the number of women in the tech industry and ranks #2 in the country, according to a recently released The North Carolina State of Technology Industry Report. Additionally, North Carolina has the third highest growth rate in STEM education completions from 2016 to 2021. Employment growth in IT continues to grow by nearly 20%, as well. Creating a draw for women in a state that is focused on STEM and attracting technology companies is a strategy that supports continued progress toward increased gender diversity in the technology field.  Jennifer Didier, President of Directions Training Center, and host of Tech in the Right Direction suggested that we need to reach girls before middle school. We continued our conversation to share how my journey prepared me to lead my own business. You can hear more about how I got started here.

Now I reflect on how I felt as the only woman at a table full of men when I started my career. I am better equipped to help small organizations attract a diverse pool of applicants. The natural extension to hiring diverse candidates is investing in retention programs. We can customize programs that assimilate new team members, so they quickly feel connected to the organization and have a strong sense of belonging. One example is a program that educates the hiring team on how to translate the skills of former military members to the business environment. The program expands beyond the talent acquisition phase to onboarding, mentorship, and ongoing career development.

Although the economy has forced some financial cuts to valuable DEI&B programs, I suggest that we return to the business case and maintain our focus on attracting and retaining talent that represents the diversity we see across the country.

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2929 Breezewood Ave. Suite 101, Fayetteville, NC. 28303
Where to find us
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