Hollywood has always entertained us for years with the best of movie genres. Hence, it is not surprising that the Oscars is the most significant movie award in the world.
In 2015, the award faced one of its most daunting but avoidable challenges. The nomination for that year was overwhelmingly white! It was a total disregard for the African-Americans, Asians, Hispanic, and Latinos who are also dishing out great performances.
A single tweet with the #OscarsSoWhite from April Reign urged people to speak up. The efforts of Reign did not gather any momentum, but it created much-needed awareness. Unfortunately, the same all-white nominations were repeated in 2016, and this broke the camel’s back. A-list actors and producers including Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith, and Spike Lee decided to boycott the award for that year.
This prompted the Academy to announce an ambitious target to double the number of women and people of color in its membership by 2020. In its report card, the Academy disclosed that it had exceeded the goals set in 2016, having doubled the number of female members from 1,446 to 3,179 and tripled their members of color from 554 to 1,787.
What happened pre-2015 in Hollywood has already taken hold of the tech industry. The difference is that there is a lot of buzz about diversity and inclusion. The queue of companies advocating and recognizing diversity and inclusion in the tech industry is now longer than the Tianjin Grand Bridge in China. This underpins the fact that more and more companies are ramping up their diversity and inclusion efforts.
Refinitiv, in the 2021 D&I top 100 reports, said that “In today’s volatile business reality, diversity and inclusion is more important than ever. Yet measurable progress in increasing workplace diversity and inclusion remains slow. The reasons why are as varied as the potential solutions. However, most can agree that diversity is good for business.”
It added that the industry with the highest D&I score is software and IT services, with the highest inclusion score.
Furthermore, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged to donate $10 million to support equality and safety for the Black community. In addition, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey promised $3 million to former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp, and Amazon pledged $10 million to support social justice and Black communities.
In addition, Google promised $12 million to civil rights groups; Apple CEO Tim Cook promised the company would make donations to several groups such as the Equal Justice Initiative and match employee donations. In comparison, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella pledged $1.5 million to several social justice organizations, adding the company will be using its platform to “amplify” the voices of its Black workers.
Despite all the buzz and monetary pledges regarding setting up an inclusive culture via the employment of minorities and underrepresented groups, engaging more women, creating transparency in salary bands, and removing bias from job descriptions and recruitment process, a lot is happening that shows that very little progress has been made.
For example, a Facebook Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool identified Black men being shown in a video as “primates”. Facebook has apologized and disabled the tool and has also launched an investigation. Another saddening example is Coinbase, the cryptocurrency firm, which underpays women and black employees.
This kind of labeling and discrimination often happens in tech despite all the pledges and recognition for diversity and inclusion. Minorities and underrepresented groups, and women are the ones suffering the impact of diversity and inclusion. Perhaps, it is time for a #TechSoWhite reckoning.
Amidst the superficial efforts of the tech industry to promote diversity and inclusion, Zwart Talent Foundation has taken on the initiative and responsibility to bridge the diversity and inclusion gap in the tech industry.
Zwart Academy, the edtech arm of Zwarttalent, is training underserved people in IT skills that will enable them to compete in the global marketplace. Students between the ages of 15 and 22 are trained for six months in Cybersecurity, UI/UX design, software development, and Microsoft .Net.
With campuses in Nigeria, Nicaragua, and the Netherlands, we aim to create a rich diversity of tech experts that will contribute immensely to the advancement of the industry.
Upon completing the training, they will be joining Zwarttech for a one-year internship to gain work experience by working on projects, building their portfolio, and getting a soft-landing into the job market. It is noteworthy to add that 70% of admission into the Academy is reserved for women.
You can recruit highly skilled talents and senior IT experts from underrepresented groups by visiting Zwart Recruit. With them, you can join in bridging the current diversity and inclusion gap plaguing the tech industry.