Dear Friends and Colleagues:
The last several months have presented us with serious social challenges that have had a huge impact on our daily work lives. The subject of diversity is now a part of every conversation, but in a way that still does not bring about the intent of diversity. Over the last year, I have had many closed door and private conversations with people from different walks of life about diversity because folks are afraid to express their opinions publicly. This is one primary reason it is difficult to appropriately address, and confusion and resentment about it persist.
Diversity means many things to many people and may be defined differently. And, not surprising, several of my colleagues confuse diversity with affirmative action, which are two separate and distinct initiatives. Diversity is meant to leverage the experiences, thoughts, skills and practices of a global and connected world to improve business and communities. And, being diverse is not enough – this is where inclusion comes in to seal the deal. Inclusion is when diversity is valued. As an example, a woman can be hired for a role, but, is she given respect – is her voice heard – or, is she ignored? Studies have shown that when diversity and inclusion are properly applied, companies are more profitable and the communities they serve also benefit. While I am not an expert on the legalities of affirmative action, it has a different purpose. (This will be a focus of a future panel discussion by folks who are experts in this area.)
The next several years will be full of challenges, social change, growth and technological advances like we have never experienced. As such, we must use the collective voices, skills and potential of all people to put the proper infrastructures, policies and governance in place. We want Georgia to be the preeminent state that boasts a rich talent pool of diverse people to continue to attract the best professionals, students, and companies here. We can only achieve this when we have open and honest dialogue about those things that divide us, and create actionable and measurable steps that hold each of us accountable for our individual, corporate, and state’s growth.
In 2018, TAG’s Diversity and Inclusion Society Board, comprised of passionate and dedicated corporate and community leaders, will work even harder to facilitate dialogue and possible solutions to issues affecting our technology industry. We want our corporations to win in this highly competitive world. We want Georgia to win. We want you to win. Let’s get ready to talk about it – together!
Best wishes for a productive and prosperous year,
Jacqueline Rushin, Chair
Diversity and Inclusion Society
Technology Association of Georgia