Men in leadership positions can be a vehicle for diversity and inclusion, rather than a roadblock.

Stevie Yap, General Manager of Research, Xero

September 5, 2022

3 Min Read
diverse group of people in a conference room
fizkes via Adobe Stock

Like many of the mature industries before it, tech is in a state of upheaval today. Long-known for toxic “bro” cultures and a lack of sensitivity for anyone not affluent, white, and male, the times are changing for tech. The innovation and success of historically underrepresented and marginalized communities are gaining visibility.

While still lagging behind overall, women in the tech industry were predicted to make up 33% of the workforce in 2022, according to a Deloitte report in December. It’s been a slow and steady climb over the last few years, but the numbers remain dismal in several major sectors within the tech umbrella, including computer science (25%) and engineering (15%).

Men, particularly those in leadership positions, have a responsibility to be positive influences in narrowing the gap. In fact, many men will need to take the helm at their respective organizations in order to drive meaningful change. For many men in leadership positions, there is still much to learn in the way of promoting inclusivity and encouraging a more diverse workplace, but mindfulness and introspection are the key to success. The learning opportunities ahead of them should be seen as motivators, rather than demoralizers, as the benefits of a diverse workforce are hard to ignore.

That’s right. Recent data shared by Forbes indicates that companies with a diverse workforce are 35% more likely to experience greater financial returns than industry counterparts without a similar employee makeup. Another study highlighted by Harvard Business Review shows that organizations with a strong mix of both “inherent” and “acquired” diversity traits (e.g., ethnicity vs. culture) are 45% more likely to increase their share of their respective market year-over-year, as opposed to businesses without such a workforce.

Creative Output and Innovation

It has long been known that a combination of unique perspectives can heighten the creative output and innovation of a business, particularly in ideas-driven industries like tech. But it’s not just about listening to these unique perspectives and stowing them away. Real change comes from valuing these perspectives and consciously integrating them into the ideation and production process for new and existing services.

And aside from the business case for inclusion, it's also the right thing to do.

The immediate first step for men committed to growing diverse teams is to establish a value system centered around inclusion, self-expression, and wellbeing. By accepting, embracing, and celebrating the diverse backgrounds and identities within their organizations, tech companies stand to make big gains in employee satisfaction and retention, while ensuring that their products and services appeal to wider audiences.

With the share of women, in particular, rising in the tech ecosystem, it’s imperative that this culture-building phase be underway already (or starting immediately). Being mindful that tech is still a male-dominated industry is equally important, as it can be easy for organizations to slip into old habits with alienating language and internal hierarchies. This process is neither easy nor quick. It requires challenging unconscious bias while proactively striving to understand others, but it can be exponentially rewarding once a solid value system is implemented consistently.

A desirable workplace culture attracts more desirable talent, and with the tech market being as competitive as it is, male leaders bear the responsibility of acknowledging their privilege, and righting the ship so that more marginalized groups are given a fair and equitable place in the big tech picture.

The best minds today are migrating to the most healthy and welcoming environments, as evidenced by the 76% of job seekers considering the diversity of a company to be important when reviewing their options, according to Glassdoor. Inclusivity has shifted from a corporate platitude to a moral and fiscal duty. For men to be allies and changemakers, they must move with purpose.

About the Author(s)

Stevie Yap

General Manager of Research, Xero

Stevie Yap is the General Manager of Research at Xero. Based in Toronto, Stevie creates insights through various research methods to drive product decision making and currently leads a 45+ person global design research team. Prior to working in product research, Stevie was an academic researcher in psychology for eight years, which helps him take a human-centered approach to leading diverse teams and creating products through informed decision making.

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