A call to arms for greater diversity in Phoenix’s tech industry

Phoenix is emerging as an example of innovation in the ever-evolving world of
technology, rivaling even the famed Silicon Valley. Yet, like its Californian
counterpart, it harbors a persistent shadow: the glaring gender disparity. As a leader
of a company predominantly powered by women and having witnessed the
dynamics in Silicon Valley, I advocate for a change in our local industry.


The recent UN report on bias toward women underscores a global issue that
resonates deeply within the tech industry. Prejudices against women persist, with
nearly 90% of people worldwide holding such biases. This is a stark call for a seismic
shift in societal attitudes.


The sentiment is echoed in the recent controversy surrounding Barbie’s portrayal in
the popular Hollywood film, which became an unexpected litmus test for society’s
evolving views on gender roles. If a mere doll can spark such vigorous debate, it
magnifies the profound challenges women face in male-dominated sectors like
technology.


My journey, which began in Silicon Valley and is now rooted in Phoenix, has been
both enlightening and disconcerting. While many tech giants continue perpetuating
a homogenous workforce, companies in Phoenix have the opportunity to lead by
example. Televerde, based in Phoenix, is a shining example of diversity. Incarcerated
women, frequently overlooked, make up most of our team. Their dedication and
talent underscore the untapped potential sidelined by societal biases.


Televerde is challenging the tech industry’s status quo, proving that diversity isn’t
just a corporate social responsibility checkbox but a catalyst for innovation and
growth. When provided with the right opportunities, these women have shown they
can rival the best in the business, debunking long-held myths and biases.


However, the broader tech landscape paints a different picture. Once, women held a
staggering 70% of programming jobs in Silicon Valley. Today, that figure has
alarmingly plummeted. This isn’t just a setback; it’s a call to action.


Companies like Salesforce and Intel have taken commendable strides toward
fostering diversity, but the journey is far from over. Their data-driven initiatives
serve as blueprints for others to emulate, emphasizing the undeniable correlation
between diversity and business success.


To my peers in Phoenix’s tech industry, the ball is in our court. We are at the helm of
an industry that shapes global narratives right here in Arizona. We have the power
and the responsibility to champion change, to challenge deep-seated biases, and to
pave the way for a more inclusive future in our burgeoning tech hub.


In the future, I see a Phoenix tech world that mirrors the rich tapestry of our global
society. A world where every individual, irrespective of gender or background, has a
voice that contributes to the chorus of innovation. The ripple effects of such a
transformation would be profound, heralding a society where technology is a tool of
empowerment for all, starting right here.


The call for change is not just a societal imperative; it’s deeply personal. To every
man in the tech industry in Phoenix: Think of your daughter, your niece and the
young girls who look up to you. This is our moment to be the change, to ensure they
don’t face the barriers we’ve allowed to persist in our local industry.


Let’s not be remembered as the generation that stood still. For their sake and ours,
the time to act is now.

Originally published in the Phoenix Business Journal

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