Diversity and Inclusion in Tech

We sat down with Corey Ponder from Empact Strategies to discuss some of the challenges and opportunities in pushing for more inclusive companies. Corey has helped scale diversity programs for companies ranging from Facebook to the CIA with an empathy driven approach to transformation and allyship. The full interview is available on his blog at, we’ve included some of the key excerpts below.

When companies and leaders don’t have a serious commitment to diversity what do they risk losing?

“I think companies lose talent, trust, and money… Underestimating the importance of diversity may reduce the talent pipeline, which says nothing about the impact that a weak commitment has for employees already there… Trusting that the organization has an employee’s success and growth in mind becomes a lot harder when the organization isn’t perceived by employees to be firing on all cylinders. 

…A weak commitment to diversity means a higher risk of not understanding or reflecting these markets in the products or services being created to engage consumers… Given the importance of diversity to both current and potential employees, it’s fairly safe to say that some people have left companies because of weak commitments to diversity, and the question is, would a more serious commitment to diversity be worth the cost if it reduced the attrition that contributes to lost ROI?”

Advice on overcoming obstacles to D&I

“I think of and focus on three things as obstacles in my work: lack of empathy, fear of discomfort, and committing to values… 

Part of the problem with trying to “teach” people what a community has experienced and will experience is that no amount of education will be enough to keep up with what it means to live that underrepresented, underserved experience every day… I teach my clients to worry about the slugging percentage rather than the home-run.  A strong batter doesn’t just wait for the pitch they can knock out of the park.  They practice hitting all sorts of pitches, in the hopes that they can improve their odds of hitting it out of the park most of the time.

Once we can see past our fear or internalizing this sense that we can only show up as both informed and perfect before we can act, the final obstacle is committing to a clear set of values… if a hiring manager is faced with filling headcount to help their team scale quickly on a set of new business priorities and a consistent lack of representation of women or minorities on the team’s they hire and manage for, do the company values emphasize growth at all costs or emphasize the importance of inclusion as part of the solution for a successful team?”

Three tips on being an ally who is in a leadership role

“Being there for the everyday moments: how can you show up for someone else’s fight as though it were you own?  How can you show up alongside the “protagonist” of the story to make their fight easier?  

Be willing to confront ugly truths: what are you doing to confront uncomfortable truths about ourselves and the environments you occupy?  

Use your magic AKA your privilege to help others: what is your magic, AKA your privilege?  What are you doing to leverage it in the support of others?… Privilege is nothing to be guilty about—everyone has some form of it because we represent a confluence of identities and experience.  What matters is what we do with it.”

Be sure to check out the full interview and answers at:

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