Silicon Valley Can Solve Their Own Diversity Issue by Creating a Pipeline
Its not secret that Silicon Valley has a diversity issue, or rather a lack of diversity issue. The major companies that drive industry there, including Facebook, Apple, Twitter and Google, have all stated at some time or another that it is their focus to improve the diversity numbers. On the surface, this seems to be a silly problem for a company to have and an easy one to solve…just hire more minorities. But they cant just hire minorities for the sake of hiring them, they need them to be qualified and able to actually do the job, which in the case of the top tech firms is no easy feat.
The problem stems from the lack of…well, STEM education in the minority communities, specifically black ones. Most of your quality coders and engineers have already begun getting familiar with computer languages and digital legos by the time they hit middle school. While many more STEM schools have popped up in the black community recently, that still does not guarantee an output of the type of coders and engineers that an Apple is going to want to hire. But there is a much more simple solution.
At their earnings call this week, Apple announced that they have more than a trillion dollars in cash reserves sitting in the bank. QUARTER. TRILLION. According to the Wall Street Journal:
Apple Inc…stockpile of cash has topped a quarter of a trillion dollars, an unrivaled corporate hoard that is greater than the market value of both Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co. and exceeds the combined foreign-currency reserves held by the U.K. and Canada combined.
With that kind of cash, a company could solve its own labor issue. In combination with the other tech titans, simply create a training school for gifted students and send minorities there. If they graduate, they’ve got a job.
In a former life, I worked for Nielsen Media. Once I went through the drama of getting hired on, they sent me on an all expenses paid, two month trip to their campus in Florida, where they taught me and others exactly how to be a Nielsen Field Rep.Not just any field rep, a Nielsen one. This included how to mangle the equipment that we would be expected to modify in people’s homes, as well as the Nielsen way of doing things and representing the company. Almost every company nowadays does this, brainwashes their employees for a few weeks or longer into thinking they are the best at what they do, why, and how its an honor to be able to do work for them. But in the case of Apple, with the cash throne that they sit on, they can do more.
They need to setup their own school, call it Apple University if they like, and introduce a minority scholarship to pay for a set amount of gifted minorities to go to school if they cant afford it. Then, after graduation, they can attend the Apple University boot camp, where they will be immersed in the ways of XCode, Swift, and anything else Apple needs them to know to be able to produce quality work for them.
Apple has made strides in their minority representation, but its not enough. Its one thing to change the color of the hands that hold your iPhones in commercials, to allow a black woman on stage to be part of their keynote address (for the first time), but its something totally different to work minority ideas and abilities into the products that you create and make.
Its one thing to pay Dr. Dre billions of dollars for his Beats, another to have black people involved in the creation and engineering of those Beats going forward.
The quickest way to solve the diversity issue is to hire more of us. And the best way to make sure minorities that meet your specific standards exist is to manufacture them.
Apple is great at creating quality products and manufacturing them, from an idea in their mind to a product in your hand. If they are serious about being truly diverse, they will transfer that line of end-to-end production to their workforce.
You really want black developers? Create em.