Living In An Echo Chamber

I bumped into someone who ran for office and has been involved in politics his whole life. Of course, I asked about the state of the world, and he said we have to make sure Biden wins regardless of his age. He believes that if Trump wins, democracy in the world will shift to something very ugly. I fear he might be right.

Conservatives (let’s be honest, mostly white men) have taken the long road when it comes to change that works for them. They are happy to be what they only want to see. They want to hold on to ideals that keep them all in power. Just look at the courts, particularly the Supreme Court.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion, DEI, is the latest conservative whomp. DEI began in 1948 when Truman signed an executive order to desegregate the armed forces. Then, In 1956, Johnson signed an executive order to ensure that the government hired regardless of race and religion. The civil rights movement amplified the origins of DEI into the public eye.

In the early 2000s, when I sat on the board of our kids’ EL-12 school, hiring diversity directors was happening in every private school throughout the city, including companies. Most of these initiatives failed probably because nobody truly understood their roles. The role is to make sure that there is diversity in the school or the company. It just takes work.

In the early days of CSCNYC, the first computer science programs outside Stuyvesant High School began at Washington Irving High School. In the first year, the program was overwhelmingly male. They fixed it by spending most of their recruiting, interviewing, and doing events for young women, aka basically none for young men. In the second year, there was almost a 50/50 split between young men and women because they figured out that young men would apply to a computer science program without being prodded. Look at how many women have become computer science majors over the past two decades. Remember, women were the predominant programmers before WWII, and then, of course, and unfortunately again, patriarchy took over.

As a female investor in the early days of start-ups, the data showed that company diversity is a win. Multiple studies have proven that companies are more profitable by over 2.5x. Common sense tells us that having different voices around the table creates a merger of cultures that make products that catch a wider net.

So many people are living inside their echo chambers right now. We need DEI now more than ever. Eventually, the tides will turn, and those trying to pull us back will not have the last word. At one point, in the not-too-distant future, many of those anti-DEIs will find themselves the underdog, needing DEI to make sure that their grandchildren, who are white, have the same opportunities as others. Those who believe in diversity will continue working hard to have balanced schools and companies. It is that echo chamber that creates racism. That is what I fear more than anything.