i3 | December 01, 2020

CTA's Diversity & Inclusion Working Group

Heba Mahmoud

Tech companies are a major source of high-paying U.S. jobs, and although underrepresented workers in the tech sector has grown since 2005, women and people of color continue to be underrepresented in the workforce. Improving racial and gender diversity in the U.S. tech workforce is a massive economic opportunity, and could create $470–$570 billion in new value for the tech industry and add 1.2%–1.6% to national GDP, according to the 2016 Decoding Diversity report.

On September 26, 2019 CTA held its first meeting of the Diversity & Inclusion Working Group (DIWG), a member group focused on sharing best practices and solutions, addressing business challenges and developing strategies to create a diverse and inclusive tech sector. The group started with 37 member companies, today the group has grown to include 77 member companies — a 108% increase.  

A Year of Milestones

Serving as an industry thought leader, CTA’s DIWG communicates the benefits of diverse and inclusive tech ecosystems by sharing best practices for attracting, engaging and retaining diverse communities in the tech ecosystem while promoting and investing in a diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem. The working group was essential in developing Innovation for All, an integrated, multi-prong approach designed to create a more inclusive and welcoming experience for CES attendees and exhibitors through partnerships, programming and engagement opportunities.  

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic presented new challenges in 2020, which also emphasized widespread disparities. Organizations had to quickly adapt to new ways of working and engaging employees and consumers. The outbreak followed by racial unrest allowed CTA and DIWG to reimagine how to use varied platforms to bring the community together in a meaningful, yet engaging way.

The DIWG brainstormed how to continue engaging employee resource groups (ERGs), adjusting to remote work, and maintaining a commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive tech sector. We invited other CTA member groups to learn more from DIWG members on a number of D&I subjects including allyship, accessibility, and launching a diversity and inclusion strategy. We launched a quarterly newsletter to highlight member initiatives and share D&I news from across the sector. Collaborating with allied organizations, like the Female Quotient, CTA has highlighted the successes of our DIWG members in their endeavors to create a tech ecosystem that is welcoming to all. 

Looking To the Future

The CTA DIWG has made massive strides in sharing best practices, cultivating data and collaborating with allied organizations to tackle the business challenges related to building a diverse and inclusive tech ecosystem.

In 2021, the group plans to continue to engage member companies on sharing best practices and creating innovative solutions to help move the dial on diversity and inclusion in tech. With the leadership of Chair Sherida McMullan, lead, Inclusion & Diversity, Lyft; and Vice Chair Carman Blanco, director, Global Diversity & Inclusion and Talent Management, Harman; the group will set benchmarks and initiatives to transform the tech industry.

“The CTA D&I Working group has become instrumental in providing a Think Tank for companies to come together and discuss critical topics affecting our industries. My goal is to listen, learn and continue to build, in collaboration with my colleagues, upon the strong foundation that CTA established,” says McMullan.

Blanco adds, “I hope to build on the tremendous success that the CTA D&I Working Group has had in building a true community of practice across technology organizations. Together, we have the power and influence to accelerate progress toward more inclusive and equitable workplaces on their own — imagine the outcome if we continue to use that power collectively, the possibilities are limitless.”

The Innovation for All program will return to CES 2021.

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