Deafening Silence on IT Diversity
Talking about diversity in the IT workplace can be difficult—uncomfortable, even—but what does that say about the state of IT leadership? My colleague Ed Cone penned a solid piece for our July issue on the continuing difficulty with managing diversity in the IT workplace.
A quote at the beginning of the feature seems to sum up a big issue of diversity, at least in its perception:
"We've heard jokes—more than jokes—about not being able to understand the accents of people at the call center. Our team decided that we had to make it clear that we won't accept that kind of behavior. Our business case is that in today's environment, you have to be able to accommodate different cultures and lifestyles."
The problem with the quote is that it's anonymous. That's not a journalistic problem—while I'm not a big fan of anonymous sourcing, there are plenty of situations in which they're essential to telling a story—but it's a problem for the way diversity is viewed, and not just in IT shops. (That being said, there are plenty of named sources in Ed's story, all of whom provide interesting insights on the issue.)
We've been covering IT diversity for a while, and a similar storyline seems to come through: it's tough. I'm not trying to be simplistic here, but if you read Ed's piece, you'll see what I mean. And I'm sure you already know.
But in a year where Barack Obama, the first African-American presidential candidate, leads most national polls, diversity is being viewed through a newer, clearer lens.
I can't necessarily blame the CIO for asking to remain anonymous: he/she is discussing sensitive internal issues, some of which could, if his/her name was made public, could draw the ire of coworkers, if not worse. But how long will this whisper campaign go on?
Tell us, IT pros: what's your feeling about diversity in the workplace? Does discussing it make you and your colleagues uncomfortable? Or, do you even discuss it at all?