With 2016 presidential candidates making a strong push for gender income equality in their campaigns, workplace equality and diversity has never had such a visible push from the our leaders. The CEO’s of some of America’s top companies like Google and Lockheed Martin have taken steps to increase racial and gender equality in their respective industries while many of their competitors are slow to even the playing field.
Some CEO’s are making workplace diversity a major talking point and tying diversity to innovation, leaving less diverse competitors looking outdated and out of touch. “Basic economic theory suggests that consumers will correct for a company’s lack of diversity by simply not spending money there—making slow-to-change organizations extinct,” writes Forbes contributor Selena Rezvani in February 2015. Companies are creating jobs titles specifically geared towards workplace diversity and attracting highly qualified candidates to bring them into the future of diversity awareness.
Social media giant Twitter and the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag facilitated a forum for discussion on race, justice, and equality. One of the most widely used and visible social media forums in the world sent racial awareness viral. The workplace is seeing the effects, but diversity and inclusion is slow going. Leslie Miley wrote in November of 2015 for Huffington Post Business about the discrepancy between the diverse demographic of Twitter users and the people who work for Twitter. His article reads, “And yet there were moments that caused me to question how and why a company whose product has been used as an agent of revolutionary social change did not reflect the diversity of thought, conversation and people in its ranks.”Twitter did not start the conversation but definitely made a point to business and government leaders that social change and equality is of the utmost importance.
At the beginning of 2015, Intel, the San Francisco based technology giant, made a huge investment in workplace diversity. Nick Wingfield writes for NYTimes.com in January of 2015, “In addition, Intel said it has established a $300 million fund to be used in the next three years to improve the diversity of the company’s work force, attract more women and minorities to the technology field and make the industry more hospitable to them once they get there. The money will be used to fund engineering scholarships and to support historically black colleges and universities.”
Court rulings, while not always in favor of the plaintiff, serve to amplify what is being whispered at the water cooler. Ellen Pao sued Silicon Valley investment firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers for gender discrimination and sent Silicon Valley, as well as the tech world, into a flurry. In March of 2015, Farhad Manjoo writes for NYTimes.com, “Thanks to Ms. Pao, and notwithstanding the jury’s verdict, the secrets are suddenly out in the open. In tweets, in text messages and at tech gatherings like TED and South by Southwest, the case has been virtually all that anyone could talk about during the last few weeks.” Bringing gender inequality to the forefront where historically minorities have been silenced or fired was a major effect Ms. Pao’s case had on a very rigid industry.