Diversity in the Workplace

Written by: Ashley Proctor

Information Technology, a diverse profession that keeps on growing!

January 16th is the day we celebrate one of the most influential civil rights leaders and activist of all time, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King, is responsible for the Montgomery Bus Boycott and leading over 200,000 people to the Lincoln Memorial. His nonviolent protest approach help set the tone for a successful movement. In 1964, Dr.King was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent campaign against racism and his promotion of civil rights and social justice. This day is observed as his birthday and used to celebrate his accomplishments and acknowledge that we, as a nation, once lived in a time where diversity was an issue, and our skin deep differences created tension amongst us. Dr. Martin Luther King, felt that no matter what race, gender, class, or religion, we could all coexist as one. He introduced the brilliant idea, that we could learn to understand one another’s backgrounds and be respectful of our differences. Dr.King’s highly revered “I Have A Dream” speech resonated through the televisions and radios of America, leaving impressions on many Americans both young and old. A small excerpt from the speech read: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” He was an advocate for freedom and equal treatment of all people regardless of skin color. Dr. King believed in the freedom to be yourself, the freedom to love who we chose and be afforded the rights that our country was found upon. At a time in American history, these freedoms were denied to individuals due to prejudice and misconceptions. On April 4th 1968, Dr. King was assassinated because of his perceived radical ideals of equality and social justice by a man whom did not share Kings’ same views. Fortunately, many people shared the same sentiments as Dr. King. His followers continued to strive for equality and fight for the equal treatment of all. Dr.King and many other fearless individuals relentless efforts and continued determination led us to the end of the Jim Crow era and segregation as we know it.

Our nation has made many improvements since Dr. King’s movement. Present day we are happily embracing diversity and all it has to offer. After all, what makes America great is the melting pot of different cultures, nationalities, and multitude of diverse ethnicities that all converge here in hopes to pursue the ‘American Dream’.  In 2008, our country made history by electing our first minority into office as the President of the United States of America. On November 4th 2008, democratic candidate Barack Obama became our countries first African-American president.

It is safe to say, that diversity is a pretty hard thing to avoid. To be diverse, means to have a variety or a range of people and items. As many of us may know there is variety in everything we do; from the places we shop, to the cars we buy and the clothes we wear. We live in a world that is based off providing options. Diversity does not only pertain to race, it can include characteristics such as, gender, geographic location, nationality, socioeconomic status, educational background and more. The world of technology is like a magnet to a multitude of different individuals; in fact, one of the most diverse industries to work in, is information technology. Dr. King’s promotion of diversity paved the way for industries such as the IT profession to become more open to different individuals from all walks of life. Information technology is under an exponential constant growth and has a burning need for diversity, they crave it! Why you may ask? I’ll explain that later.

An article written by the Houston Chronicle said “Diversity in the workplace is important for employees because it manifests itself in building a great reputation for the company, leading to increased profitability and opportunities for workers.” Diversity creates a comfortable environment for the workplace. The more diverse a company is increases the number customers and employees they can relate with. Forbes magazine said, “Diversity is good for the company. Diverse companies can not only effectively build products that serve a larger audience, but diversity holds the key to true performance excellence in a company.”

There are a plethora of IT companies looking for talented individuals. People are slowly learning about the gold mine that is Information Technology. According the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “The high-tech sector has become a major source of economic growth fueling the U.S. economy, Employment in computer science and engineering is growing at twice the rate of the national average.” The industry has also seen a rise in the number of women choosing technology as their profession. A positive sign that makes the IT industry such a diverse field, is that recruiters are reading candidates like a computer, in 1’s and 0’s. To explain what that means, a 1 means you are qualified for this position and we want you, a 0 means you do not meet the qualifications for this position. Candidates don’t feel discriminated against because nothing personal is revealed nor are they judged based off their background. The tech world is solely looking for the most gifted individuals to join their team. A diverse workplace creates smart and creative teams therefore, allowing their employees to flourish in a smart and creative world. Better performance, creates opportunity to gain more great talent.

With information technology needing such complex minds across the spectrum in different ways, having a diverse group of employees can eliminate that natural bias that an environment with a group of similar minds can bring.

All in all, a diverse workplace is essential for the overall success of a company. Studies have proven that having a variety of viewpoints creates a healthy work space. IT departments and companies have some of the best company culture’s because they welcome differences and only see intelligent minds. Dr. Martin Luther King also welcomed differences and only looked at people who for who they were on the inside. In so many ways his ideals directly contribute to diversity in the workplace. Every year we pay homage and show our respect to a man who defied and lifted limitations, a man who walked ahead of the pack, a man with a brilliant mind and an open heart. Thank you Dr. King.

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