Interrupt – and Recreate – Tech Workplace Cultures

Have you noticed that the tech industry’s influence on society’s culture is increasingly under the microscope? Even amid acknowledgements of tech’s positive role in helping us cope with COVID through remote work, online commerce, and online schools, the industry is also facing negative heat for everything from democracy-threatening election interference and fake news dissemination to identity hacks and personal privacy concerns. The result has been bipartisan congressional calls for greater regulation and oversight, and a growing international discussion of how to “reign in Big Tech.” The New York Times recently called the situation the “Global Tipping Point.” But, much of this talk about tech’s influence on external worldwide culture, seems to sidestep the growing movement to change the internal culture of tech itself.

Should we be having these conversations together? Might interrupting – and recreating – tech workplace cultures also help address larger societal concerns about the role of tech? We, of course, think the answer is a resounding yes. In fact, we believe that improving and expanding who has influence in tech’s internal culture is the best way to improve tech’s influence on society’s culture. This involves helping change leaders interrupt everyday biases and inequitable systems in order to create internal cultures with greater diversity, inclusion, innovation, and social responsibility.

For those interested in bringing about this kind of systemic culture change, the NCWIT team of social scientists are spearheading multiple efforts, in partnership with dozens of tech companies—working one team at a time, through internal change leaders empowered with research and well-prepared to swim the stormy seas of organizational change. Efforts include:

Tech Culture Interrupted Podcast
Whether you’re just getting started or a seasoned change agent, the Tech Culture Interrupted podcast introduces important topics and shares real-world stories from leaders in the tech culture revolution. Subscribe today through your favorite podcast app! Episodes to date have featured:

Kim Vorrath (Vice President of Software Programs at Apple), discussing how her teams worked with NCWIT to acquire skills in interrupting everyday bias
Mary Fairchild (Global Director of Diversity and Inclusion at f5), exploring the experience of isolation in tech during the COVID pandemic and its impact on tech team culture
Danny Guillory (Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Dropbox), sharing Dropbox’s use of an NCWIT research-based strategic approach to creating more inclusive cultures
Tracy Stone (from Women @ Intuit), presenting new research being conducted by NCWIT with Intuit support to investigate how power and influence operate on technical teams, who has it, and who doesn’t.
Nancy Phillips and Ryan Heckman (from Rallyday Partners), talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the venture capital world

Inclusive Culture Ambassadors
The NCWIT Intensive Culture Ambassadors change leadership program specializes in development and deployment strategies customized for each company using this powerful approach. The program prepares cohorts of ambassadors to scale culture work throughout an organization. Ambassadors lead cultural exploration sessions about the ways we treat each other at work (consciously and unconsciously). The goal is to build a common language and understanding about inclusive cultures that teams can use to co-identify steps that help them create the kind of workplace culture where all can thrive.

The Tech Inclusion JourneyTM
The Tech inclusion JourneyTM is a powerful and comprehensive, research-based platform that guides change leaders and ambassadors to develop sustained, strategic approaches to interrupting and re-imagining tech culture in ways that produce greater inclusion, innovation, and social responsibility. The TIJ brings together a decade-plus of NCWIT research and experience of working with technology organizations and institutions of higher education. It is the first of its kind to successfully address the pitfalls of traditional approaches to diversity and inclusion, and utilize whole-system approach to change leadership.

Check out these resources today, and share them with other change leaders. The time is right for us to take advantage of this “global tipping point.” Let’s work together to interrupt and enhance tech’s internal culture, ultimately accelerating its positive impact on society at large.

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