Why Diversity Still Matters in the Technology and Telecom Industries
By: Jason A. Llorenz, Esq.
January 13, 2012
Recently, HACR released its Corporate Inclusion Index (CII) which measures companies across sectors on the issue of diversity. AT&T. The company tied for first place and received a rating of 95 out of 100. NCLR President and CEO, Janet Murguia’s Huffington Post piece lauded AT&T’s ranking. This is significant – and no accident. Let’s be perfectly honest: Fortune 1000 Companies are not in the habit of merely falling into diversity best practices – instead, these inclusion efforts are often due to hard-earned effort by both internal and external leaders.
Keeping this in mind, the company should be lauded for exceeding expectations across hiring, supplier diversity, and internal supports for diverse talent, especially Latino employees. Diversity matters, and the business strategies of today’s industries matter – and so we congratulate AT&T while looking to others in the technology and telecommunications industry to do more and do better.
Diversity is neither easily attained, nor easily incorporated into a complex business, unless there is a true commitment to do so. In Silicon Valley, many have called for more and better efforts to hire minorities. Yet those companies continue to struggle to make that a reality. Short applicant pools mean fewer diverse candidates to hire. But once hired, the company’s internal supports for nurturing, training and mentoring talent must also be in place.
Of all the elements of diversity, supplier diversity is key – identifying and cultivating supplier relationships with minority-and women-owned, smaller businesses is one of the most powerful pathways to achieving economic parity, spreading the benefits of economic opportunity, and strengthening communities. AT&T spends billions of dollars with diverse small businesses. Smaller suppliers must be developed and mentored – sometimes even teamed with a larger supplier to be groomed for success. That entails investment of time and resources, and tolerance of risk on the part of a large company. Again, the long-term commitment to success is evident in the results, and the rankings.
What is most important about AT&T and other companies leading in the diversity space is that their actions do not exist in a vacuum – instead, it sends an important signal to leading firms that diversity needs to be included when developing their strategic priorities. Companies looking to include diversity best practices as part of their overarching structure should heed the example of the companies on HACR’s list.
One hopes that other companies in the tech sector will follow in the footsteps of AT&T in this manner, by making diversity a part of the culture and an everyday way of serving its customers. Incorporating diversity best practices will mean greater opportunity for communities, and a more competitive technology sector.
Jason A. Llorenz, Esq. is Executive Director of the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP).