In January, I left Microsoft to build a startup. A few telling tweets aside, it has largely been kept under wraps – but I’m finally ready to share what we’re up to.
Please welcome to the world:
Like many minorities in tech, I have faced my share of discrimination and harassment. Sometimes it was minor and I could laugh it off without too much harm; other times it was threatening and intimidating and made my skin crawl. I’ve seen friends leave their jobs because of discrimination, or be fired because they spoke up. Unfairness in tech is a known problem, and it’s not that people don’t want to fix it, we just don’t know how.
We can’t blame the pipeline anymore. Tech companies are being more purposeful about hiring diverse talent than ever before, and yet we still see huge turnover of diverse employees. Why? Because company cultures are not built with us in mind.
Over the last three months my team and I have been researching this problem. From the hundreds of employees we’ve spoken to who faced discrimination at work (and who bravely shared their stories with me), one key theme reoccurred: “I didn’t know what to do.” Often there is no support system, no viable avenue in place, for people to safely voice their concerns about workplace discrimination. They don’t know what to do, so they do nothing at all, and the problematic behaviour continues to erode their psyche until they can’t bear it anymore and they feel they have no choice but to leave. Leave jobs they once loved, leave the tech industry, leave behind their passions.
And it’s not always management’s fault, we’ve talked to them too. Sometimes bad things happen under good managers. These managers want to help their employees – but again, from the dozens of managers we’ve met with, a common theme emerged: “I didn’t know what was going on until it was too late.”
At Crescendo, we are building an inclusive workplace toolbox. Our platform helps employees navigate workplace discrimination and provides leadership with real-time data and tools to help them change their workplaces for the better. It’s time we stop treating diversity as a checkbox and start building inclusion into the core of tech culture.
Inclusion is everyone’s responsibility. The nature of diversity is that it only works if everyone is involved and represented. We are looking for diverse perspectives to share their stories with us, advise us, teach us, and join us in creating a better future for tech, for everyone.
I would love to hear from you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can help.
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