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2022 - the year in Diversity & Inclusion

Madeline Bennett Profile picture for user Madeline Bennett December 23, 2022
At diginomica, our commitment to focusing on Diversity & Inclusion was as strong as ever in 2022. Here are some of my highlights.


Unlike the previous two years, there hasn’t been a landmark moment around diversity, equality and inclusion (DE&I) in 2022.

In 2020, the murder of George Floyd sparked a mass movement against racial injustice; in 2021, it was the murder of Sarah Everard by a policeman that sparked a wave of outrage over violence against women.

This year, women’s rights and racial injustice are still very much on the agenda, but DE&I has broadened out to encompass all marginalized communities, from LGBTQ+ to military veterans to older workers.

Here are 10 articles that highlight the scope of DE&I across the tech sector, and the importance these individuals and schemes have for underrepresented groups, as well as organizations and wider society.

IWD 2022 – in conversation with Dame Stephanie ‘Steve’ Shirley, a women-in-tech pioneer

My letters were not getting answered. My dear husband suggested that I use the family nickname of Steve. And surprise, surprise, it worked.

Why? Dame Stephanie – aka Steve – had long been on my target interviewee list and International Women’s Day 2022 finally gave me the opportunity.

Born Vera Buchthal in Germany, she was one of 10,000 Kindertransport child refugees who arrived in London in 1939, aged just five. On becoming a British citizen, she changed her name to Stephanie Brook.

Realizing her gender was holding her back, Dame Stephanie underwent another name change, signing off her business letters as Steve. By getting a foot in the door before anyone realized she was a woman, she was able to build up a tech business that was valued at almost $3 billion by 2000. 

This profile piece of a true woman in tech pioneer looks back over the changes Dame Stephanie has seen in the industry for better – and worse – and is an inspiration for working women today.

Don't be an Andrew! Lessons Salesforce UKI CEO Zahra Bahrololoumi has learned as a person of color in tech

I remember my boss sitting me down and saying, ‘Zahra, look around you, you've got to be more Andrew’. And I'm like, ‘How do I be more Andrew?’ I'm never going to be a 57-year-old white male with gray hair called Andrew.

Why? At Black Tech Fest, Zahra Bahrololoumi shared her early experiences building a career as a woman of color. She outlined the barriers she ran into due to her Iranian heritage, which prevented her from getting her dream role at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

During her tenure at Andersen Consulting – now Accenture - Bahrololoumi faced another obstacle due to her heritage, when her boss advised her to ‘be more Andrew’. At the time, of the consulting firm’s five business heads, they all had grey hair, three were called Andrew and they were all of a certain demographic.

Bahrololoumi knew she would never be an Andrew, and instead focused on being her authentic self, something she encouraged the audience to promote as their differentiator.

Next Chapter - offering former inmates a path to tech career with software engineering apprenticeship

We've come up with a thousand ways to make sure a plastic bottle or an aluminum can gets a new life, but far too few to make sure someone leaving incarceration does. 

Why? Kenyatta Leal’s story is exactly why the momentum around DE&I is so important and needs to gather pace in 2023. While serving 20-plus years inside, Leal turned his life around and trained for a career in tech. He is now Executive Director at Next Chapter, a program that teaches software engineering skills to people who were formerly incarcerated. So far, more than 40 former prisoners have become or are about to become engineers via the scheme.

With a recent $2.5m grant, hopefully 2023 will see the program expand to more apprentices and more employer partners.

Silicon Valley's secret underground - how Black women can get VC funding

If you're a Black female founder and you are trying to raise capital, usually people want your valuation to be lower than what it's supposed to be. You are going up this constant uphill battle to get things that white males and Asian males get for having an idea on paper.

Why? Jade Kearney, CEO of SheMatters and Black Girl’s Tech Day, outlines her struggles as a Black female company founder. She set up these organizations in a bid to increase the share Black entrepreneurs and women currently get in startup funding – 1% and 2% respectively of a $137 billion pot.
Kearney shared her advice on how to level up the playing field, including white men acknowledging they fund based off of familiarity, backing a technology they understand or have seen before, and one where the founder looks like them.

Some Sage advice - funding is the only way to get more Black women in tech

I'm out of the inspiration game. I'm really in the money game now.

Why? Dr Cameka Smith originally set up The BOSS Network to establish a community of professional and entrepreneurial black women, offering events, workshops and coaching to help this underrepresented group succeed in the business world.

However, the last four years have seen Smith shift her focus from conversations and coaching to funding, as the women she was working with weren’t able to access financial investment to actually implement the resources and learnings they’d been given.

This shift in focus is already having the desired results. Sage is investing $1.5m in the organization, with $10,000 grants awarded to 35 women so far.

Black History Month – closing the digital divide is crucial to diversity in tech, says ServiceNow's Karen Pavlin

Veterans understand the intricacies of our Federal business accounts and the concept of what we call winning as a team.

Why? In an article to mark Black History Month, ServiceNow’s Karen Pavlin explains why the firm has expanded its DE&I strategy to include veterans.

The firm’s Solution Consulting Academy was originally created to help early career talent. In 2021, ServiceNow added Armed Forces veterans to the mix, helping former military launch their post-service careers as trusted advisors to sales teams. It was a good match, and the firm is now planning to evolve and expand the focus on hiring with more intention.

Never volunteer to be the note-taker! Leadership tips from Salesforce's Trailblazing Women Summit

I wish I would have given myself that at 25, to travel and see my parents or my grandparents at the time. I just worked. I wish I would have realized that sooner, and started to scope in what I needed to do, because you don't need to have kids to slow down. You can have your own life.

Why? Hilary Headlee, Head of Global Sales Operations & Enablement at Zoom, shared how climbing the career ladder for her entailed outworking people, putting in 70 or 80-hour weeks, and doing the work of two people. She didn’t slow down until she had kids, aged 35.

When asked the one thing she wished she had done differently, she replied realizing you don't need to have children or a family to stop working so hard. This really resonated with me, and I’m sure a lot of women of my generation, for whom working flat-out to climb the career ladder before having kids was the norm, as there was little chance of progressing afterwards.

What I’d say to me back then – ServiceMax’s Liz Carter on why it pays to be a risk-taker

If women want to grow a career, there are so many people now in tech that want to help them get there. 

Why? This was part of a mini-series we ran throughout 2022, in which women in tech discussed what's changed in their careers to date, and explore what advice they’d give their younger selves as well as to women entering the sector today.

If Liz Carter, ServiceMax SVP of Marketing, could go back and offer advice to her younger self, it would be take more risks or opportunities trying something different, rather than staying in an area you feel comfortable in. 

Over the course of her 20 years working in tech, Carter has seen welcome changes to the culture of the tech sector, which make it more attractive to women, whatever their family situation or lifestyle. This means women entering the tech industry now should already have a sense this is a place where they can be successful and grow a career – and the more awareness they have, the more successful they're going to be. Something to celebrate going into 2023.

An inside look at how MongoDB is fostering inclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ people to be celebrated

We had this customer send us a really amazing email about how his loyalty stems from our value. We were like, 'Wow, we didn’t realize that that's trickling past the employee base'.

Part of MongoDB’s Pride events was a get together at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City, which is where the liberation of the LGBTQ+ rights movement is often cited as having started. The event was open to customers and partners.

Derek du Preez spoke to Cara Silverman, MongoDB’s ERG Global Lead, who revealed how MongoDB’s focus on D&I is having an impact on the company’s customer base as well as its staff.

Read this piece for an indispensable guide on what it means to be a truly diverse and inclusive employer.

IBM and an age-old issue - legal action that might set a precedent across the tech sector, one way or another

Ageism is alive and well in so many industrialized countries and so many organizations, which means that many over-55s simply choose to retire, even though they’re badly needed

Why? Cath Everett covered the age discrimination lawsuits against IBM, which were eventually settled in August.

Ageism is an issue that has traditionally been low down on tech companies’ agendas, and inter-generational diversity and inclusion expert Henry-Rose Lee explains why it matters, both in relation to preventing discrimination and filling tech vacancies.


Image credit - Pixabay

Disclosure - At time of writing, Salesforce, ServiceMax and ServiceNow are premier partners of diginomica.

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