Putting a price tag on the work of #techdiversity
Here’s a couple of facts about diversity in the tech industry:
- The tech industry is extremely homogenous.
- There is an entire movement that exists to help make the tech industry more inclusive for underrepresented groups, with the goal of making the industry more diverse.
- Research has repeatedly shown that in the knowledge economy, diverse teams are more creative, innovative, and generate real financial value.
- An extremely large proportion of the people who are doing the hard work of making tech more diverse come from minority or underrepresented backgrounds themselves.
- Most of the people who spend their time (and often money) to create a diverse tech industry are volunteers.
The last three bullets really get me. (Note: I’m certainly far from the first person to make this observation.) If we know that the work to create diversity results in actual financial value, why do we not compensate the vast majority of workers who perform the necessary labor?
Focus on solutions
Now, I want to be 100% clear that I am compensated for the work I do to make tech more diverse. In fact, my entire income comes from advocating for people from underrepresented backgrounds, and creating real pathways for them to succeed in technology. I have intersectional minority identities, but I hope it’s clear I’m in a privileged position in a host of different ways. But even I, a professional in this field, struggle to understand what the true, fair “market value” of my labor is. While sites like Glassdoor have great info on Content Strategists, Senior UX Designers, and a host of other specialities, they’ve got exactly zero data points for me to compare to, based on my searches. In fact, when I negotiated for my current job, I compared my salary to a bunch of marketing roles because I couldn’t find any other reasonable comparisons.
Now, I’m 100% confident that my employer pays me fairly. I know because I’ve had direct, frank conversations with my manager about it, and done a lot of research on the compensation for “comparable roles” both inside and outside my company.
But imagine if I had no professional reference points at all, or didn’t even know where to start looking. What if I wasn’t a full-time diversity & inclusion specialist, and had no data on the value of my volunteer labor? The likelihood that I would ever be compensated fairly for that work is approaching, if not absolutely, zero. That’s terrible.
Knowledge is power
The thing is, there’s an easy way to begin fixing this problem. Let’s gather some data. I want to know exactly who gets paid what by tech companies to promote and grow diversity. So here’s the deal. I’m looking for people who are doing diversity & inclusion work inside technology companies. Whether you focus on diversity & inclusion as your entire job, a part of it, or whether it’s outside of your job description but you do it anyway.
All I’m asking is you for you fill out the anonymous survey below. My plan is to release the data as publicly as possible, so that everyone — from the C-suite to volunteers — can begin to realize the value that their work is creating.
Like this article, and want to read more? Think about hitting that little ❤ button below, sharing, or following my writings here. Check me out on Twitter at @adblanche.
This post and this survey could not exist without the countless words and ideas that have already been written on the topic, or without the trailblazers who began gathering data on related topics. For others in this space, I am deeply grateful for your contributions and your willingness to share them openly.
A deep thanks also to the folks who looked at drafts of the survey and this post, who will remain anonymous to protect their privacy. If any of you would prefer to be publicly named, let me know and you’ll get a specific shout out.