Tech’s lack of diversity can easily show up in the products companies build and their programming. If you need an example, consider the study of self-driving cars possibly not being able to recognize darker-skin. When you only have one group of people building an app or algorithm, it’s going to have glaring gaps.
In an ideal world, tech would be diverse and those problems would go away — right? According to a study conducted by Stellares, the make up of a company’s founders says a lot about how it’ll grow.
For their study, Stellares took data from 13,000 companies. One thing they found was that male tech founders rarely hire women. When all the founders of a company are male, fewer than a fifth of leadership (which they define as vice president and above) are female. If the founders are women, then that flips to leadership that’s about 50 percent male.
None of that influences racial diversity. In their blog post, Stellares wrote, “When we looked in the data, the proportion of female founders did not significantly influence the proportion of racial/ethnic diversity in the leadership of the company.”
There are some questions raised here about how Stellares is defining “diversity.” Since data isn’t broken down by race (like white female founders compared to Black female founders), there’s no way to tell how that statement holds up across the board.
The study found what impacts racial diversity the most in a company is who’s in human resources. If a company’s HR department has more people of color, then racial diversity across the company — from leadership to everywhere else — increased.
This study may not come as a total surprise to a lot of people, but it helps combat a dangerous idea that companies naturally diversify as they grow.
“It’s very typical in Silicon Valley to say something like, ‘When you’re very small, there’s so many things to deal with, you can’t really take care of diversity, you can do it later,’” Roi Chobadi, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Stellares, told Bloomberg. “What we saw is that it doesn’t come later.”
Perhaps, the tech industry needs a little less talking and more “doing,” now more than later.