Dr. Cheryl Ingram saw the testimony of technology companies this week expressing outrage at George Floyd's death and speaking out against racial inequalities in our society.
Now is the time for managers to go beyond talking and taking action, she says. The time was actually a long time ago. But now it would work.
Tech has "a huge responsibility," said Ingram, not only because of the spread of industry prejudices against women, black people and people with disabilities, but also because of the potential for tech companies to have positive effects.
"If the tech industry comes together and really fights for change, change will happen much faster in our country," she said.
Ingram is the CEO and founder of the consulting company Diverse city and tech startup Inclology, which develops a technology platform for diversity, equity and inclusion assessments in companies. Ingram moved Diverse City's operations to LA in 2018, but remains connected to the Seattle community.
We present her story in this episode of the GeekWire podcast, including a conversation last fall and a subsequent discussion this week that focused on the role of the technology industry in racial inequality in society.
As part of our discussion, Ingram presented some concrete steps that technology leaders must take to solve the problem.
Supporting nonprofits run by people directly affected by these issues. “When you look at the profits you make in your company, you have to take part of that money and reinvest it in the community in a sustainable way. I don't just mean there are nonprofits led by white leaders who have a white savior complex. … Look at the people who are victims and do the work. I'm not saying that other organizations are not worthy. But if we think about financial differences, they even exist in the nonprofit industrial complex. "
Support laws and take action to stop gentrification. “When you move into an area and displace small businesses from disadvantaged business owners, you need to find a way to give them grants so they can make a living, or you have to fight for the cost of living for everyone and not for income you offer. "
Increase, strengthen and embrace internal voices. “Many of you have social responsibility programs and resource groups for employees. You need to give these groups room not only to be there, but also to influence the decisions you make when you walk in communities that fit their identity. … The feedback they give you based on the experience they have had in the community has to be applied to what you are doing and not just to the fulfillment of your business model and results. "
Invest more money in diversity, justice and inclusion. “DEI is not a program or an initiative. It has to be woven into everything you do. It has to be in your mindset, it has to be in your recruitment, it has to be in your promotion, it has to be how you fire people. "
Understand the communities you are recruiting from: “If you look at the qualifications and where they are missing, most of it is due to the racial differences in our communities. If you go into communities and want to recruit people from those communities, you need to do some research and development on the challenges they face. "
Ultimately, says Ingram, she is optimistic about the potential for significant change.
"I think it will take a lot of pain and suffering, which I really don't want to see," she said. "Whenever major changes take place in this country, we have to work really hard to overthrow the powers that create racial differences for us." If there are people in powerful positions who don't see what's going on in the world and they don't recognize it, we will have a damn long time to get them out of the way. But we have to, or they have to change. "
"If you want to see changes, you have to change first," she said, "and if you are not ready to change, your position of power must change."
Listen to the full podcast with Cheryl Ingram above and Follow her on LinkedIn.