Diversity in Tech with Kamales Lardi
Recently, thousands of employees from tech companies including Meta, Twitter, and Salesforce have been laid off. Not only does this have a major economic impact, but it also leads to a loss in diversity in the workforce.
Kamales Lardi, author of The Human Side of Digital Business Transformation, strongly advocates for diversity in tech. From diversity in knowledge and culture to gender and sexual orientation, Lardi believes that all types of diversity are essential to developing technology solutions with the ability to transform businesses and society.
Lardi has over 22 years of experience in tech and was listed in the "Top 50 Women in Tech Influences 2021." She spoke with the Garden State Woman Education Foundation and explained the impact of these layoffs as well as what can be done to foster diversity in the workforce.
- How are these recent mass tech layoffs negatively impacting business and society?
"The reality of tech layoffs is an alarming development, particularly concerning is its outsized effect on marginalized groups. Women, people of color, and other minority communities are not prioritized when cuts must be made - often the most vulnerable members bear the brunt of such decisions. This can lead to a decrease in diversity among many companies' workforces despite prior progress towards representation—causing far-reaching consequences that could remain long into the future if steps aren't taken to ensure this trend isn't repeated as much as possible during times of economic hardship or otherwise.
Technology has the potential to be more meaningful, creative, and powerful when it is developed by a diverse range of people. With an array of cultural backgrounds, educational experiences and gender identities represented in these solutions - they are able to better cater for wider audiences without inadvertently favoring any particular group or creating bias.
Unfortunately, those from minority groups often face difficulty advancing within tech companies whilst being among the first in danger due to downsizing initiatives."
- How is Human Resources in tech structured to be more inclusive?
"In my view, the role of HR has to transform significantly to cater to the needs of organizations of the future. Currently, most HR functions play an administrative role in managing the resources of the organizations, including practical necessities of payroll, hiring, contract management, etc. However, these elements could be optimized and even digitized in the near future, rendering traditional HR obsolete and irrelevant. The future of HR should focus on people and culture, focusing on leading and supporting the organization in taking human resources on the transformation journey for success in the digital future. This may involve driving digital culture, digital upskilling of the existing workforce, talent acquisition and management, new working models (e.g., hybrid or hyper-personalized working models), refined performance indicators, etc."
- What can employees do to promote diversity in tech?
"Employees, particularly teams or organizations homogeneous, can make a big impact towards positive change. Two simple ways include:
1.Demanding/setting open expectations with the leadership team, HR teams, or hiring managers that there is a need for more diversity in the teams. This will push the organization system to change traditional ways of attracting, evaluating, and hiring people, ensuring diversity is considered in building the team structure.
2. Making conscious efforts to make sure people from diverse backgrounds are welcomed and able to thrive in the team environment. This could be as simple as being aware of the behaviors and communication used to ensure that it is more inclusive."
- What can readers gain from your book, The Human Side of Digital Business Transformation?
"The book is a must-read for business leaders looking to navigate the rapidly changing business landscape, providing a comprehensive guide to understanding and implementing digital business transformation, with a focus on the human element. Digital business transformation is an organization-wide change that leverages technology solutions to create, deliver and capture value for businesses. A common misconception is that digital transformation is rooted in technology or digital channels to market. Oftentimes, companies tend to place the focus on the 'digital' part, rather than the 'transformation' part. The digital part opens doors to exponential possibilities, but it is the transformation part, the journey that an organization goes through with the ecosystem of people, that creates the solid foundation to accelerate these exponential possibilities.
At the core of digital business transformation is an ecosystem of people:
-board members and management teams that drive change;
-employees that adopt, embrace, and advocate for change;
-customers that trigger the change;
-external stakeholders such as partners and suppliers that support the implementation of change.
Understanding and engaging with this ecosystem of people is the true secret to driving sustainable digital business transformation success. I have created a playbook for human-centered digital transformation and building an interconnected ecosystem, a guide that business leaders could use to lead transformation in next-generation organizations. In addition, I offer the Digital Business Transformation Strategy© framework to help break down the effort of transformation into smaller, more manageable parts. I also share actionable insights and best practices based on the cross-industry experience of successfully transforming organizations."
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