CHICAGO • There is near-universal agreement that Silicon Valley needs more diversity.
Attaining it is usually thought of as a numbers game in which organizations try to get the percentage of their non-white staff to reflect that of the U.S. population. The reason usually cited for the need to diversify is the "business case." The thinking goes that diverse backgrounds make for better products, services and innovations.
In a recent Harvard Business Review post, "We're Making the Wrong Case for Diversity in Silicon Valley," diversity consultant Todd L. Pittinsky challenges this assumption.
"Does that case have any relevance in Silicon Valley? Here we have one of the least diverse sectors of the U.S. economy. According to data obtained from the Labor Department and reported by Mother Jones, the top Silicon Valley tech firms lag well behind the general population in diversity. And the problem is most pronounced in the very belly of the beast: the technical jobs. The Valley's tech workers are overwhelmingly men (83 percent) who are white or Asian (94 percent)," wrote Pittinsky.
"Yet Silicon Valley is also by far one of the most innovative collections of people not only in the U.S. today but perhaps anywhere, ever. This might explain why the creativity and innovation arguments for workplace diversity, while seemingly compelling at first blush, haven't had the expected impact on business investment in diversity."