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About This Episode
It’s funny how you try to explain what it means to be “in the tech field” to family and friends at holidays and such.
But actually, when they don’t get it and keep not getting it, that indicates a real problem with accessibility and education about tech jobs.
When nobody even knows what working in tech means, how will they decide to make it their career? Exactly.
“It all starts with having those uncomfortable conversations,” Marco said. “If more companies can put it out there that they want to make diversity and inclusion an initiative, then things can only get better from there.”
So, why do tech and sales in particular struggle to hire diverse talent?
Reason 1: The right fit
Before his current position, Marco didn’t know anything about tech sales. Then his buddy invited him to meet at his office (Seismic), and Marco was intrigued.
That story is how most of us got hired — someone we know asked us.
“People just hire their friends,” Marco said. “They’re hiring people that are like them. You’re friends with who you trust, right? But you’re not really getting a diverse pool of people in the door.”
Marco said what we need to do is eliminate the term “the right fit.”
“If you just have the right fit all the time, you’re not going to be able to expand. It’s just the same people with the same way of thinking, tackling a problem with one perspective instead of tackling a problem with five or six different perspectives,” he explained.
Once we do away with the right fit, we’ll reach outside our comfort zone of people we already know when we’re thinking about hiring.
“The right fit might not be the right fit, you know what I mean?” Marco said.
When you’re trying to attract diverse talent, you first have to get rid of that notion of the right fit. You have to be more inclusive and accepting of different factors.
In other words, the right fit means your unconscious bias of who can make it in tech.
Reason 2: The education component
Another huge impediment to diversity in tech is that people just don’t know what jobs are available.
“I had no clue this industry existed,” Marco said. “Sales in tech and in the software world didn’t even exist to me.”
The industry needs to stand up and shout that you can have a really great career, a really great life working sales for a tech company. People just don’t know it’s an option.
“I wish I could go and stand on top of a mountain and let everybody know about this industry. Because it’s changed my life and I want to see it change other people’s lives for the better,” Marco said.
Then he stopped wishing and did something.
Marco has begun speaking at tech schools and high schools about what the tech industry is and what jobs there look like.
(It was amazing to see his face light up talking about the excitement he could share with students about their career options.)
He even went back to his old high school to spread the message.
- Hey, you can work in a really cool environment.
- You can wear a hoodie to work every day.
“Tech is changing what the face of professionalism looks like. They’re changing the face of what an office looks like. They’re changing the face of how you’re compensated,” Marco said.
Reason 3: Access to opportunity
In some communities, access to the opportunity just isn’t there.
It isn’t just going to their schools to tell high school juniors the great message that they could wear jeans to work.
It’s inviting them 10 minutes outside of their school for the first time to see what your office looks like. (After all, that’s what changed Marco’s life, a sight of the office.)
“We had a couple students from Framingham High School come in and job shadow us for the day,” Marco said, speaking of students at his alma mater. “They saw some of our training processes, and we hung out in the game room, and just networked with them.”
The absence of familiarity with tech shows that the tech bubble exists. It’s completely separate from most young people’s lives, and it shouldn’t be.
“A dream of mine is right to have a couple of students come visit Seismic, and then we walk across the street to another tech company and then they can see that office, and then we walk down the street to another tech company and they can see that office. So I think that access is very, very important,” he said.
Connect with Marco on his LinkedIn to continue the conversation about diversity in tech.
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