Great resume, but YOU don’t fit our corporate culture – Bridging the gender and racial gap in technology

 

 

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During my many conversations on bridging the gender and racial gap in technology, a re-occurring theme is, “Hey, I want to hire a diverse workforce, but we have a hard time finding people who fit into our corporate culture.

OK… I’m going to stop you right there and ask, “What you talking about Willis? (You would only get this if you watched the TV Show Different Strokes, and yes I think I’m pretty funny.)  More times than not, my question is met with a blank face, a stumble in words, or a look of embarrassment.  My solution:  Don’t get uptight, don’t become defensive, I come in peace…Let’s talk about it.

Often time the corporate executives I consult with aren’t consciously excluding people,   however the ” culture fit” statement and reaction to my question, suggest an unconscious bias.  That statement is a covert way of saying,:  “Uh, you don’t look or act like anyone who works here, or for that matter anyone in my circle.  So, you may be qualified, but it’s not gonna work here.”

Openly and strategically discussing the “they don’t fit into the culture” statement, has actually lead to great conversations, challenging beliefs, uncovering fear, and hiring great people who help propel the organization to new heights with a wealth of diverse thoughts, talents, and creativity.

When you speak about fitting into the culture do you mean: The candidate is certain race or gender, they’re too old,  have a percieved socio-economic status, don’t look”cool” enough, can’t speak the jargon, don’t like sports, will be the “only” at the company picnic, and the reasoning goes on.

I know the reasons listed may seem a little outlandish, but speaking from experience some of the conversations, I’ve had around corporate culture have been over the top.  I worked at a corporation where my peer, an executive pointed and said, “We treat colored people equally.”  Now, you can’t tell me that he did not have a wild definition of what a cultural fit would be and I’m grateful he didn’t have a decision on hiring me as I would still be embalming people (long story…)

I’m not implying that company culture and values aren’t important, but I’m asking you to pause and ask yourself are you using it as an “excuse” to exclude amazing candidates from the field of technology.

Bottom-line:  I’m suggesting you call a meeting with yourself and then your staff to talk about “this culture fit”…what does it REALLY mean?  Next time you say, “they don’t fit into the culture,” someone might call you on it. What will your answer be?

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Marlin is a Globetrotting Speaker, Founder of Sisters Code, and thought leader on bridging the racial and gender gap in technology.  Marlin serves as speaker for Microsoft’s global DigiGirlz Program and has been invited to present at SXSW, Techonomy, Meeting of the Minds, and more.  Marlin also serves as a media contributor on various outlets.  Marlin’s Book and Music Single empowers girls to love and believe in themselves.

Million Women Mentors Launches National Movement to Mobilize One Million Mentors of Girls & Young Women in STEM Education and Careers

Photo courtesy of STEMConnector

Photo courtesy of STEMConnector

Million Women Mentors (MWM) was launched on January 8, 2014 in an effort to engage one million science, technology, engineering, and math  (STEM) mentors.  The initiative’s goal is to empower females to actively pursue STEM education and careers.   MWM has 13 corporate sponsors and more thatn 40 organizations dedicated to mentoring and increasing access to professionals working in the STEM field.

MWM’s launch includes the debut of the website www.millionwomenmentors.org, which will be developed in phases. The first phase will include a national call to action for those interested in mentoring.  The second and third phase will pair mentors and mentees in STEM Fields.

“We have the responsibility as a country to move the needle on girls and young women in STEM careers from 24 percent of our current workforce to 50 percent,” said Edie Fraser, CEO of STEMconnector and Co-Founder of Million Women Mentors.

“STEM careers offer women and girls the opportunity to engage in some of the most exciting realms of innovation. TCS believes we collectively need an all hands on deck approach, clearing hurdles as women navigate careers in STEM, and paving the way towards realizing greater equality and economic success,” said Surya Kant, Tata Consultancy Services’ President for North America, UK & Europe. “We are proud to be a Founding Partner of MWM and pledge our commitment to make mentoring accessible to girls and women across the nation, especially those from underrepresented minorities.”

Founding Sponsors include: Accenture, Cisco, Sodexo, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in addition to Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, Microsoft Research, Walmart and ADP. Silver sponsors include: Adecco Group North America, General Motors, Intellectual Ventures and UST Global.

Sisters Code Perspective:  When I entered the field of technology, I didn’t have a formal mentor and unfortunately there were not many females at the technology table.  Luckily, I found a mentor and he taught me the value of learning to code and helped me to navigate through a field filled with men.  I believe that a formal mentoring program and allowing young girls the ability to see “someone who looks like them,” in the tech field will  definitely help to bridge the gender gap in technology.   Sisters Code has joined the movement pledging to mentor help females looking to re-career into the field of technology!  We are looking forward to joining the movement!

Question:  Do you think mentoring will help empower girls in STEM?

Click Here to Find out more about MWM