Technology Executives Model Best Practices For Attracting, Developing And Retaining Diverse Talent

In 2016, Per Scholas and the Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) launched Diverse by Design, a national conversation series focused on increasing diversity and inclusion in the technology workforce.

The conversation’s goal is to bring together executive leadership and hiring managers to discuss best practices and collaboratively develop solutions to forge a more direct path for businesses to attract, develop, and retain diverse talent. Three events have been hosted so far in New York City, Washington D.C., and at the National Society of Black Engineers Annual Convention in Kansas City, MO. Speakers and audience members have included Chief Executive Officers, Chief Technology Officers, Chief Information Security Officers and Chief Diversity Officers as well as hiring managers, nonprofit partners, and government and community leaders.

Gene Waddy, the CEO of Diversant LLC, addresses the leaders gathered at Diverse By Design's event in Kansas City.

Gene Waddy, CEO of Diversant LLC, addresses the leaders and talent professionals gathered at Diverse By Design's recent event.

The strength of the series relies on the expertise and insights of executives and hiring managers who are able to remain transparent and learn effectively along with a group of peers. Diversity comes and stays when corporations embrace alternative hiring solutions and implement shifts within their corporate structure to grow diverse talent.

The Diverse by Design National Working Group was developed as a result of the first convening in June 2016. The National Working Group is composed of leaders in the public, private, nonprofit and philanthropic sectors focused on uncovering, distilling and promoting best practices that attract, develop and retain more diverse and inclusive talent to all ranks of the tech sector.

From the Diverse by Design Conversations...

“Innovation comes from diverse thinking. Diversity is more than just race or gender. Diverse thinking is shifting how we do business.” 

  • Ali Marano, Head of Technology for Social Good, Diversity + Inclusion at JPMorgan Chase, Diverse by Design, Google, New York City

Diverse by Design’s first convening at Google’s headquarters in New York City offered a consensus among executive speakers that diversity of thought is the driving force behind innovative corporate success. New concepts, products, and implementation strategies owe their accomplishments to the diverse thinking of designers, engineers, support staff and management practices. In a global economy, particularly the United States, building a workforce that continues to represent the diversity of a company’s consumer base will result in constant insights into production and implementation of better products and increased sales. Research shows that diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to outperform their counterparts, yet 97 percent of domestic senior leadership teams fail to reflect the demographic composition of the United States.

“It is all about the organizational chart. If the org. chart stays the same then something is going wrong.”

  • Michael Bennett, Executive Vice President, Evan & Chambers Technology, Diverse by Design, Google, Washington D.C.

Michael Bennett’s keynote address in Washington D.C. addressed the practical tools he has leveraged over a lengthy career growing and retaining diverse talent. Bennett suggests that the dollars spent or the number of diversity initiatives a company launches remain inconsequential if the organizational chart remains homogeneous. Bennett shared a learning moment when his leadership team decided to create diverse hiring committees involving people of color and women in the recruitment and hiring process. However, a full year later recent hires remained remarkably similar to the company's overall non-diverse make-up. Bennett argued that although it may have sounded like a good idea and it looked even better on paper, it was not enough to change the hiring landscape and they had to enact additional steps to see the change they wanted to take place.

“Diversity is not a mathematical equation - it is a culture change”

  • Tony Spinelli, Chief Operating Officer, Fractal Industries, Inc., Diverse by Design, National Society of Black Engineers, Kansas City

Executives will often stay focused on numbers and data to drive decisions around diversifying their workforce. However, Tony Spinelli, a world expert in Cybersecurity, argues that he has found significant success by critically examining his company culture and intentionally working against pre-established systems for hiring and promotion to make the biggest differences. Too often, diverse hiring of non-traditional talent is blocked because the process has never been done before. It takes intentional conversations and executives supporting their courageous leaders to move an organizational chart in the right direction.

Get Involved

For more information about upcoming conversations and ways you can partner with Diverse by Design, please email

The Diverse by Design event series is hosted by Per Scholas, a national social change organization that prepares motivated adults who are un- or underemployed with the technical and business skills to launch life-changing careers in technology. The event is co-hosted by ITSMF, the only national organization dedicated to exclusively cultivating professional talent among African-American IT executives. Diverse by Design is generously supported by partners including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Google, CompTIA and the National Society of Black Engineers. To learn more visit

The GradsofLifeVoice Forbes team provides thought leadership, research and expert commentary on innovative talent pipelines and related issues such as the skills gap, income inequality, workforce diversity, and the business case for employment pathways. We seek to change employers’ perceptions of young adults with atypical resumes from social liabilities to economic assets. This post was originally featured here.

Diversity, Hiring & Retention Practices, Innovation, Management & Leadership, Technology,
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