Back in the 20th. century racial and sex-based discrimination was everywhere. Since then a lot of things have changed, thanks to Feminism and Civil Rights movements, of course. It seems that sexism, racism, and xenophobia is not an issue nowadays. But sadly, memos from big tech companies ex-employees and stories about unfair hiring process proves it wrong. Sad, but the tech industry is tolerating bigotry in their organization and is also struggling to provide safe working environments. So here comes the problem: how to spot and tackle inequality and toxic environment in the corporate world?
So, is it still there?
Well, the situation right there is a bit complicated. At first sight- everything is okay. But some things could be a well-crafted conspiracy. There are no problems while networking and applying for jobs on professional networking platforms. Even job interviews are a piece of cake if you have relevant skills, because education, nowadays, is widely available. But the real problems occur when you enroll in that job. As mentioned, there are various cases in the biggest tech companies when employees have revealed serious bigotry inside the organization.
The harsh reality of Big Tech.
Mostly the problem is senior managers. For example, Tracy Chou, 27, a well-known engineer at Pinterest, said she was once bypassed at a previous start-up because her boss thought a new male hire was more qualified. When Chou asked for an explanation, she recalled him saying: “It’s just this feeling I have that this person will be able to get stuff done faster than you.”. Also, the story from Google’s ex-employee is worth to mention. The former employee wrote in his memo that, “Over the last 5 years I’ve heard co-workers spew hateful words about immigrants, boast unabashedly about gentrifying neighborhoods, mockingly imitate people who speak different languages, reject candidates of color without evidence because of ‘fit,'”. Sadly, these two examples provide enough evidence about why inequality is still an issue in the corporate world which leads to the staggering careers of some employees and a toxic work environment.
Diversity quotas- panacea, or just a coverup for problems?
In the last 20 years, things in the corporate world had changed a lot. The traditional office environment evolved from cubicles to more open, entertaining and relaxing workplaces. Also, many big businesses have introduced targets or quotas to increase diversity. But does meeting a certain number or percentage means that the problem is solved? Well, these programs make your crew more diverse, but in the long term, it causes some hate from other people, who were more experienced but was not hired because of the quotas, or was not promoted because the company had to hire someone regarding these rules. In our opinion, quotas would not solve the problem itself in the long-term.
The change starts in the society, not in the office.
Well, we have this problem and the measures which we use today seems not working well. We reckon, that the ‘cure’ is only possible with the long-term commitment from society, family and the educational system. First, we need need to understand, that we are different and accept that fact. But we are only different in our cultural understanding. It is the fact, that a person from Europe and a person from the Middle East will have different values and mindsets. And that is okay. We need to leave that safe western culture bubble and start exploring and understanding different civilizations. Everyone matters, but everyone is different and this small change will lead us to real, not declared on paper, tolerance. The video down below accurately describes this concept.
Also, there should not be any cliches in the educational system. Myths that ‘math is only for Asians’ or ‘CS is the boys-only game’ just blocks young person’s curiosity and confidence. The mission should be to introduce kids to various disciplines widely from a young age. These standards just build walls for a young person and stop him from exploring fields that seem interesting to him. With just two small changes in our mindset and cultural understanding, we really can prevent the spread of this virus.
But what about the managers?
Secondly, managers should also know some principles. Article from The Guardian on Overcoming Unconscious Bias shows three steps that managers can take to stop unconscious bias.
Step 1: Don’t be exclusive
Giving your attention and time to those who look like you in terms of age, gender, race or academia reinforces unconscious bias.
Step 2: Develop a core value system
This value system should focus on fair treatment and respect for others. A basic human right, but one that we can often forget in our daily lives.
Step 3: Change your lens
Try using an unconscious bias lens when considering job promotions or how you interact in teams. We all are biased, but consciously becoming aware of it and taking action to address it will benefit us all. Don’t be that person excluding others in a meeting; recognize your unconscious actions and don’t let them hold you or others back. Probably there are more and more ways to enhance our tolerance but these two steps should be a perfect beginning to change something.
Well, the 20th century is over and society needs to get over it. It is 2020 and it is clear, that everyone has the same rights and opportunities. Any discrimination is not acceptable. And yeah, these are very deep stigmas related to gender or racial bias in our world, but there is no other way, just to combat them through better education and more tolerant corporate values.