Julie Pagano

You say you want a diverse development team... (part 1)

I keep meeting people (hr, recruiters, developers, managers, etc.) from technology companies with homogenous development teams (read: mostly or entirely comprised of young, middle-class, white guys) who say things like “our team doesn’t have any women – we’d really love to hire some to improve the diversity of our team.” We’ll call these people, GROUP A. As a note, a lot of people from GROUP A also say they have difficulty finding good talent, diverse or not.

On the flip side, I keep meeting women (mostly young-ish, but not fresh out of college, women with at least a few years of working in the industry under their belt) who are unhappy with their situation and would love to find a better place to work. We’ll call these people, GROUP B. As a note, a lot of people from GROUP B say they have difficulty finding places that sound like a good fit for them.

GROUP A’s prime directive is giving developers jobs and GROUP B’s prime directive is getting jobs as developers. You’d think these groups would get along great, but they seem to be silently passing each other in the night. So, what’s going on here?

GROUP A, you need to start talking to GROUP B. If you currently have a homogenous team, whatever you are doing is not working. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – STOP IT!

I am totally serious about this. Come talk to us – we won’t bite. Ask us what we’re looking for. Find out what you can do to make us want to work for your company. Learn what you’re doing wrong, so you can make better decisions for the future.

If you are serious about this, find women in your community and talk to them. If you are in my community, come talk to me. I have skin in this game, I work in this field, and I want to work with people to make it better. If you’re not willing to have these conversations and change what you’re doing, then you don’t really want diverse teams – you just want to say that you want diverse teams. Actions speak louder than words.

In the next few weeks, I am going to continue on this theme with some information related to this topic. Some of it will be research, and some of it will be personal feelings and anecdata. Stay tuned!

Disclaimer: I know this post is pretty skewed towards women (to the exclusion of other minority groups). I’m a member of that group, and I don’t really feel comfortable speaking for groups I’m not a member of. Also, I’ve never heard people in GROUP A say something like “we want more black/hispanic/disabled/lgbtq people on our team.” However, those groups are totally underrepresented and GROUP A should be reaching out to them too.