If properly implemented, diversity efforts could net the IT industry an extra $400 billion in revenue each year, CompTIA CEO Todd Thibodeaux said in a recent keynote address. The comments came during Thibodeaux’s speech at CompTIA’s 2017 ChannelCon in Austin, TX earlier this week.

SEE: How CXOs can develop a diverse workforce (TechRepublic)

Thibodeaux urged attendees to focus on workplace diversity and inclusion in economic terms.

“Financially a one percentage point move toward representative diversity leads to a three-point increase in revenue,” Thibodeaux said. “Companies in the top quartile for ethnic and gender diversity are more likely to surpass industry norms for revenue and operating margin. Companies in the bottom quartile for diversity aren’t just lagging behind, they are rapidly losing ground.”

Diversity as a driver of business success was also listed by Dr. Linda Sharkey, global managing director at leadership consulting firm Achieveblue Inc., in her recently-published book The Future-Proof Workplace: Six Strategies to Accelerate Talent Development, Reshape Your Culture, and Succeed with Purpose, as TechRepublic’s Alison DeNisco reported.

The diversity issue is not limited to the tech industry, Thibodeaux added, but with Silicon Valley releasing diversity statistics since 2014, tech companies have remained a primary focus. “While Silicon Valley is a hugely important engine of growth and innovation, it’s not representative of the entire tech industry,” he explained.

Thibodeaux clarified that a tech skills gap isn’t necessarily the problem, but instead a confidence gap is what prevents many women and people of color from pursuing jobs in the tech industry. TechRepublic’s Hope Reese noted the women’s confidence gap after watching University of Louisville’s inaugural Women in Leadership Forum. “The panel agreed that women often judge themselves too harshly as well, saying ‘I’m not good enough,’ far more often than men,” Reese wrote.

A lack of career information is another big reason many professionals don’t join the tech workforce, Thibodeaux said. Organizations need to provide career information to a more diverse group, Thibodeaux added, or else these individuals won’t know to pursue tech careers.

A press release from CompTIA noted a five-step plan Thibodeaux created to help companies diversify their workforce. The outline included correcting unconscious hiring biases, making diversity and inclusion a priority by investing in resources towards the goal, recruiting non-traditional employees, studying the overall workplace culture, and connecting to a broader audience.

The keynote finished with Thibodeaux challenging the conference attendees to invite three individuals from different gender or ethnic backgrounds to their LinkedIn page.

“True diversity comes from engaging people from different socioeconomic backgrounds; from different parts of the world or country; and from different work and life experiences. It’s gathering and utilizing a wide variety of opinions and ideas,” Thibodeaux said.

Top three takeaways for TechRepublic readers:

  1. President and CEO of CompTIA, Todd Thibodeaux, gave a keynote address that emphasized how diversity and inclusion can directly result in higher revenue for tech companies.
  2. A lack of confidence and career information are the main reasons people of color and women don’t pursue careers in the tech industry.
  3. Thibodeaux outlined five ways companies can make their workplace more diverse, which include correcting unconscious bias, prioritizing inclusion and diversity, recruiting non-traditional employees, studying overall workplace culture, and connecting to a broader audience.

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