Despite the tech industry’s talk about diversity, progress has been slow.
As of this year, 3.8% of Facebook’s workforce is Black — up from 3% five years ago. Women have made slightly more progress, at 23% today compared to 15% in 2014. Figures are similarly disappointing at Apple and Google.
Diversifying the tech industry isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s a business issue. In more advanced tech sectors, diverse candidates rarely even get the chance to interview. Yet companies with more diverse leadership generate 19% more revenue.
One company hoping to even the playing field through tenacity and innovation is IBEX IT Business Experts. Led by president and CEO Tracey Grace, a Black woman herself, IBEX is working to bring inclusivity back to an industry that lost it long ago.
How did diversity in tech become so difficult?
Looking at tech now, no one would think the industry found its footing thanks to the efforts of trailblazing women.
Back in the 1940s, a group of six women developed the field of programming in the Army during World War II. Decades ago, people viewed the construction of hardware as the most difficult part of the job. Men built the machines, then a handful of women including Jean Jennings Bartik and Frances Elizabeth Holberton created the software. They had a difficult task ahead, though: they had to come up with the concepts behind software before they could begin coding. Their achievements created the foundation of modern engineering and the entire tech sector.
Those women were white, but women of color played an important role in early tech as well. The women mathematicians who worked at NASA during the 1960s and beyond (given long overdue recognition in the 2016 film Hidden Figures) helped make space travel possible. Working as literal “human computers,” Black women including Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan performed the calculations that allowed Armstrong and company to land on the moon.
As time passed, though, people and businesses began to realize the importance of the work these women were doing. Instead of celebrating their achievements by investing in a field where women were already leading the way, the tech industry attracted scores of white men who wanted to get in on the rise of a new and important market. The people who had made that market possible were shuffled to the back. Tech exploded into a massively profitable industry, and talented people who didn’t match the white male mold found themselves on the outside looking in.
Now, after decades of exclusion of minorities and women in tech, IBEX has said enough is enough.
IBEX pushing tech inclusivity forward
IBEX operates differently from other IT groups. Focusing specifically on advanced disciplines including AI, blockchain, and machine intelligence, IBEX’s consultants can work on several types of projects that most consulting groups do not have the experience to handle. By keeping a variety of highly skilled specialists in house, IBEX can provide a much deeper level of partnership and expertise than comparable firms.
The business not only excels in its field but also uses its powers for good. Guided by Grace’s vision, IBEX leverages its advanced tech talent to identify and execute on opportunities to improve the lives of people who have traditionally been locked out of the best options. Instead of pursuing profit at the exclusion of all else — an unfortunately common attitude within tech circles — IBEX partners with businesses to effect meaningful, lasting change wherever it goes.
Several years after founding IBEX in 2012, Grace saw a need for more diversity in the supplier side of technology, which led her to start Certifiably Diverse in 2017. “Leaders can’t just hire a diverse team and call it a day,” says Grace.“Diverse teams produce better business outcomes, but they’re not enough to fix entrenched inequalities. To make a dent, companies have to insist that their suppliers and managers embrace diversity, too.”
Certifiably Diverse handles all the traditional duties of a standard vendor management platform without overlooking minority contributors. Overseeing the activities of both companies, Grace is uniquely positioned to understand and attack the issues of exclusion that have been prevalent in tech for decades.
Today, IBEX works to motivate members of minority groups who cannot afford the price of college to master tech skills via alternative paths. New e-learning courses from IBEX are designed to help more people develop the skills the tech sector needs, bolstering IBEX’s own talent pool while enriching communities that have been passed over by traditional education.
IBEX has already made great strides in closing the gap as an IT consultancy, but the same achievement for the greater tech industry remains a distant goal. As Grace and IBEX inspire others to join their cause, their efforts will mark the beginning of a turning point that will make tech a welcoming place for talent of all backgrounds.
Editor In Chief at ReadWrite
Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.