Diversity and inclusion are hot topics in tech


I attended Oracle OpenWorld for the first time this year. It’s a huge event. San Francisco grows by nearly 60,000 people for one week and the city streets are flooded with badge-wearing techies. Lyft and Uber cars are everywhere.

To attract a crowd of this size, Oracle has to offer a robust agenda with events ranging from a performance by Beck and Portugal the Man to a session on An Insider’s Guide to Oracle Autonomous Transaction Processing. There’s a little something for everyone. For me, I was attracted to a session on Driving Inclusion in the Digital Age — a hot topic in the tech industry. Here’s what I took away from two of the speakers in this session.

Rick Welts, Golden State Warriors president and COO and the first openly gay person to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, discussed his passion for diversity and inclusion. “In my heart of hearts, I really believe that having a diverse group of people at the table creates a better business,” he said. “It’s a selfish strategy, it’s not to check the box and be the right thing to do.” He went on to say: “If you look at our executive team, I’m proud to say it’s probably the most diverse team in professional sports and it makes us better at what we do every day.”

Zara Nanu, CEO of pay transparency startup Gapsquare, offered that financial analysis is an effective way to promote diversity and inclusion efforts. She shared that “for every 3-percent increase in diversity, there’s a 1-percent increase in earnings. Ultimately, beyond the ethical reasons for diversity, there’s also the bottom line reason. The tech sector, in particular, is struggling to attract top female talent worldwide — about 15 percent of those working in the sector are women. The sector is really missing out from the growth and innovation that can come from adding on the other half of the population into it.”

Welts then said we shouldn’t leave diversity to HR. He said it needs to be a constant topic in company discussions. He believes it “has to be in the DNA of the conversation every day, it’s not something for the HR department to think about, it’s not something for the diversity and inclusion panel to think about. It has to be in the mainstream every day that we’re focused on this, and we understand why it’s important for our organization.”

It also was made clear that diversity is not inclusion. Although closely linked, these are two different things. Nanu said thinking this way will help tackle the issue the technology sector is facing of women leaving after three or four years of working in a company.

“I’ve seen a lot of companies try to increase the number of women in the company, so they go out and try and recruit more women, but, at the same time, they don’t put any type of mechanism in place to facilitate the organizational culture to help women thrive,” she said.

Diversity and inclusion in technology are topics I am passionate about, and I was thrilled to see Oracle driving better awareness and conversation around these topics at Oracle OpenWorld.

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