Ideas fresh off the wire

Diversity in the Newsroom

A look into the “diverse” landscape of today’s businesses.

This past week a few Highwire employees escaped the office and headed past Market Street to the PPR Worldwide building for a de-brief on all things diversity.

PRSA and PPR held a joint panel to discuss the topic of diversity, specifically in today’s Silicon Valley tech scene. The conversation focused around the lack of diversity inside tech companies, LGBTQ rights, the gender pay gap, race-related campaigns like Black Lives Matter and Oscars So White, and ageism. It was an opportunity for the panelists to share their thoughts and views on how organizations can combat lacking diversity and what the media could do as an integral part in shedding light on these issues.

The event’s panelists included:

  • Raymond Ray, Smart Hustle Founder and entrepreneur (Moderator)
  • Salvador Rodriguez, Tech Diversity Editor, Inc. Magazine
  • Connie Guglielmo, Editor in Chief/News, CNET
  • Michelle Quinn, Columnist, Mercury News
  • Venise Wagner, Associate Professor of Journalism at San Francisco State University and Writer
  • Caroline Fairchild, New Economy Editor, LinkedIn

The conversation started of a with a general discussion on what diversity means to each panelist, some panelists focused on gender equality while others focused on age and race. No matter which sub-topic a panelist discussed one thing was certain—tech is severely lacking in the diversity department.

While it’s great that businesses have realized there’s huge disparity among employees, very few seem to be breaking down those barriers. Instead, organizations are just throwing money at diversity programs, hoping that fixes the problem. But they’re wrong.

According to the group, companies should be pushing for a cooperative effort from management and senior-level executives to build out a diversity program from the top down. Connie Guglielmo, CNET said it best, “Ask your CEO, are they part of the solution or are they the problem?” If your company can’t answer that question, you might want to rethink your diversity plan.

Michelle Quinn from The San Jose Mercury News discussed the disparities among age in the tech industry, noting there was little effort instilled from tech companies to retain employees over the age of 30 (crazy right?). One key point she shared on the topic of ageism included the lack of effort from businesses to implement and build out programs designed to encourage and retain older employees like a returnship program.

If one thing is certain on the topic of diversity, there continues to be a huge gap among the tech industry and in Silicon Valley. Senior management and the core leadership team needs to make a larger effort to create and follow through with a diversity plan. Leaders need to realize that without diversity, businesses won’t succeed.

What do you think makes a company diverse?