Will Diversity Fix The Problem?
July 11, 2017
I came across an article on LinkedIn called ‘Uber was not the worst offender in the tech industry; it was just the one that got caught’. My curiosity was peaked I had to read it!
Essentially the article slammed the leaders of some of Silicon Valley’s most hyped companies, who for too long have gotten away with “sexism, ageism, and, to coin a word, unethicalism”. They were described as the “male arrogant founders”
The writer, Vivek Wadhwa, called Uber out saying they needed more responsible management. They have a history of drivers assaulting female passengers, inappropriate comments by executives, ads depicting beautiful women drivers (I don’t know about you but that’s not the typical driver I get) and even a rape in New Delhi.
These are serious management issues, but let me ask you this: is the bigger problem the blind eye of investors? Is the financial bottom line so much more important than the social bottom line?
According to stats offered in the article “as of 2014, 85% of venture capital-funded businesses had no women on the executive and only 2.7% had a woman CEO”, and goes on to offer a breakdown of gender, age and race issues.
So my questions are: Will diversification stop the problem? Will hiring more women make the workplace friendlier? More responsible? Will hiring more ethnicity balance out the workplace? Will older people actually bring something to the table? Will this be a slow boat to turn if an attitude is embedded in a workplace? Does it extend beyond the workplace prejudices and into society as a whole? Is this white, male dominated tech world a last-ditch effort for white men to have a place for themselves? Or the ultimate revenge of the nerds?
And also, is the “reform” discussed in the article even a possibility? Does a business have the right to hire and fire who they want? At what point does a business become responsible to society? Does it matter if a mom and pop hardware store hire equally? What about a local hospital? Prison? Chain of restaurants? Or can they just change the “job” search to become a “role” search like Hooters does to let them fill the role of hot, big busted women servers?
We often look at situations like the one with Uber and offer up a solution, but do we consider the ramifications of these solutions? Or do we go from the fat to the frying pan? Don’t get me wrong Uber has issues and they are harming society, but does changing the demographic fix that? If a company is still directly accountable to the investors then should we not dictate who the investors are? There has to be x number of women investors, races, ages? Will the problem go away then?
There are so many layers and we are so quick to offer solutions that may or may not make things better. I love that articles like the one Wadhwa wrote are around to make us think…. IF we choose to.