Diversity is Not About Filling a Quota, It's About Winning in Business

Written by Ali Rodriguez

One of the central themes at Elevate Toronto Festival, co-founded by Rangle, has been diversity and inclusiveness, the idea, or rather fact, that we’re stronger, more effective and more creative as companies when we allow everyone to have a voice regardless of their gender, race, or background.

Toronto is the embodiment of this diversity, a city that is home to 230 different nationalities, and where 48% of its population is foreign born. Considering the fact that Toronto is also quickly becoming one of the most prominent tech hubs in North America, it’s no surprise that at Elevate, an event that brings together Canada’s and the world’s top tech innovators, something like this happens:

For the past three days it’s been incredibly inspiring to see so many women and people from literally every corner of the world exchanging ideas about tech innovation while embracing an attitude of “we disrupt together,” a shared belief that diversity is a source of strength, opportunity, and innovation.

In the past few years, companies like Google, Pinterest, Facebook, Deloitte and many more have implemented long-overdue processes to address the lack of diversity in their workforce. But the battle isn’t over, and although things are improving— with Elevate as testament, showing how hundreds of companies are tackling diversity right—it’s not news that diversity in the workplace, especially in tech, can and should improve.

One of the problems when it comes to diversity is that many see it as a quota to fill, a nice to have, a checklist item that is just part of modern work life, like Twitter handles or ping pong tables. Some even see it as a drag.

Yet, putting aside that providing opportunities and giving a voice to those marginalized by society just makes human sense, embracing diversity also makes business sense: studies show that diverse companies financially outperform those who are less diverse.

“We have found that companies who have proactively built and consistently fostered a diverse workforce often financially outperform their peers,” found Thomson Reuters in their 2016 Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Index.

This was one of the main points that Farhan Thawar, Co-Founder & CTO at Helpful.com drove home during his “Hiring Faster Than a Startup” talk at Rangle’s Lean Innovation track on Wednesday.

“I like hiring top talent, and when you hire the best people you end up with a very diverse group of people,” he said.

Thawar emphasized that the main problem for employers is that they let unconscious biases affect their hiring process so as a result they end up with a subpar team composed of a lot of people who look alike.

“We are full of inherent biases that stop us from hiring people from diverse backgrounds,” he said, adding that in order to eliminate biases you have to interview less (subjective hiring) and test more (objective hiring). “If you’re hiring a race car driver, do you want to spend months talking about how good he is at driving cars or do you want to see him race?”

By interviewing less and judging people based on what they do, instead of who or what they look like, you end up with a talented team full of skillful, diverse people who can do the job well. Such a team makes good products and generates revenue (aka getting more business wins).

In other words, a talented, top-performing team should be full of people who are different because, statistically, in a world made up 51% by women and with 230+ different nationalities, talent comes in all shapes and forms. Embrace it. Make use of it. Win more.

It’s Not About Culture Fit, It’s About Culture Add

Here at Rangle diversity is not just a belief but part of our DNA, an acted upon commitment that is reflected in our hiring practices, our work and our everyday culture. Diversity and inclusion are very present and important topics that have finally gained the attention of many in the tech industry. For us at Rangle, we are actively working with our teams to help ensure that there is representation and inclusiveness across the board.

Last year we introduced Bridge, a free coding school for self-identified women with an aim to address and bridge the gap between drive and technical skill. Founded by Rangle's own Emily Robinson, Avery Francis, Yuri Takhteyev and Abdella Ali, this fully-immersive program provides hands-on technical and professional mentorship for our students. Our core requirement? For our Bridge students to have a strong desire to learn and embrace challenge throughout the program.

Last night we were honoured to win Best Tech Workplace for Diversity first runner-up at the Timmy Awards, an event hosted by Tech in Motion, which recognizes the top workplaces for tech professionals. That diversity is recognized with such esteem and appreciation by our peers in the industry means that more and more an inclusive workforce is becoming the norm.

“Building a diverse culture at a company is about creating an environment that is representative and inclusive,” says Yeniffer Pang-Chung, Talent Manager here at Rangle.

“I am more concerned about hiring people that can add to a culture via different experiences, viewpoints and skillsets, rather than focusing on how well they will fit into the culture, as that is largely influenced by personal biases due to our desire to want people to act and look like us.”

Events like Elevate, with such an active embrace and encouragement of diversity, and programs and hiring practices like the ones here at Rangle and over at Helpful.com are tangible proof that we’re headed in the right direction and that progress is being made.