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January 27, 2020

Charles Eaton Describes How Technologists Foster and Support Business Cultures of Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

How do you make unconscious attitudes and behaviors conscious?


Sounds tricky but that's what great technologists do.


For example, technologists hold themselves to standards that don't tolerate racism, sexism, ageism, or any approach that demeans others inside or outside their organizations.


How? By fostering and supporting business cultures of diversity and inclusion.


So says Creating IT Futures CEO Charles Eaton, in an episode of the Technologist Talk podcast.


"This mindset just doesn't happen on its own," explains Eaton, author of the award-winning book, “How to Launch Your Teen's Career in Technology: A Parent’s Guide to the T in STEM Education.”


He says, “The best technologists plan for it, talk about it, and work at it."


In this excerpt from our podcast series about the “5 Traits” of technologists, Eaton breaks down making the unconscious conscious for host R.C. “Bob” Dirkes:


Charles: We can't assume that everyone has that context for how they live their life, right?


We are going to have unconscious biases. We have to start to make them more conscious and figure out how we're going to solve for those.


So, when thinking about what a technologist is… we wanted to set a standard with our definition of it that had a very strong moral code behind it. …This stuff isn't about simply taking your company's diversity training and making sure that you have checked off all the boxes… but actually trying to live that and think about… the [technology-enabled] products and services you're creating. The solutions you're creating… how am I affecting people who are different than me?


Are my solutions going to be able to be used by the elderly? Or by people with disabilities? Is this something that a woman's going to love to use? Or have I built something that is just for guys?


It's that awareness… as a technologist, [you are] a pivotal part of how society moves forward. You are in control of a lot of power in creating something that… could be the next big thing, right?


Bob: The business case for diversity is really strong… now how do we make that happen?


And that's why they use the term inclusion. So, it's not just about having diversity. It's about engaging that diversity and including it in the business.


How is it that you operate with inclusion in your organization? And how does that relate to the advice you would give to parents when they're trying to help form these traits in a young technologist?


Charles: Inclusion, to me, is about making sure that people are engaged, moving forward in a company and [starting] to fill the ranks.


These are issues that are challenging for people. And so, you [must tell yourself as a leader], "Okay, I've got to have low ego about this, and I've got to be able to ask people: Am I doing a good job on this? What do you think? Is our company the right structure?" …We have to be self-critical and not defensive.


Bob: And how does that translate into behavior as a parent? How can a parent model that sort of mentorship [when] raising a technologist?


Charles: [I work] to make sure that my kids aren't forming biases or opinions of people based on factors that are not in those people's control… making sure that they see people of all different types being successful and smart and funny… not falling into stereotypes.


It's really tough as a parent to deal with this issue… [Some say], "I don't want my kids to see race." [I say], "I want my kids to see race, just not to judge race."


I want them to know that people are different, have different sets of experiences. And that you may understand them a little bit better, if you know where they came from. But not all those experiences are going to be obvious from their outward appearance.


Bob: This brings the discussion back to the idea of “Strategy First,” which we've framed as asking “Why?”.


So, if you have a thought, if you hear a thought, always ask yourself, why did I think that? Why might that [other] person think that? That is the first trait of a technologist and completes the circle.


Charles: Absolutely.


Technologist Talk with Charles Eaton is a podcast from CompTIA’s tech workforce charity, Creating IT Futures, where we talk to business leaders, workforce professionals and talent developers about shaping technology careers.


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