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The topic of diversity has been a topic of discussion for many years in all areas of industry. Women joining the workforce sparked off the global battle to have equal representation at all levels of management, equal pay and ultimately transform the workplace to be a more inclusive environment. This is all justified and still very relevant today as the corporate world is still struggling to achieve full gender equity. However, diversity is multifaceted.
Our country is known around the world as the rainbow nation because of how many beautiful ethnic groups with their unique traditions, languages and clothing we have all in one melting pot. Taking a global view, the rich histories from countries such as Greece with its mythology, India with its vibrancy and beautiful cultures, South America with its hip-shaking rumba dances, and Asia which taught the world more about natural beauty and health practices. The list is endless because we get to live on an incredible planet. What makes it unique is its diversity. Every continent and corner of every ocean has something unique that contributes to the collective that we all get to enjoy. This is what diversity is.
There is nothing that exists that everyone enjoys that is made of a single entity. Music needs different notes, voices and instruments. Art needs colours, strokes, instruments and material. The galaxy is a fabric of planets, the sun, the moon and stars that are scattered across a never-ending dark backdrop. This is the power of diversity.
Technology is now no longer a luxury. Connectivity has become an essential service that keeps families, communities and businesses connected. Technology has amplified the basic human need of being able to engage. Geographical boundaries and distances are no longer barriers, time differences are no longer issues and there are so many new ways for us to express ourselves.
A new way of working
As essential and critical as technology is, it is still designed by people who had already been in the communications industry and attracting those that identify with this existing community. This results in the exclusion of a large number of people that actually make use of the services and products. The lack of diversity in the technology space ultimately limits how it can evolve because technology companies cannot solve problems they do not know. Only women understand women’s needs, only millennials understand the kind of products they need and are looking for, only people that reside outside of metropolitan cities can articulate how technology can empower them.
The solution to this challenge cannot happen overnight. There needs to be deliberate action to expose as many young, diverse children to the building blocks of technology. COVID-19 has accelerated digitization in the education space and students now understand that a classroom is not limited to the school buildings. Children are already consumers of technology so they need to understand how it works and what enables it. Ultimately, they will add their unique views to evolve technologies to their needs and that is what moves us forward.
Diversity in technology is not about quotas and numbers. It is about bringing the experiences, voices and perspectives of every member of our nation to one table to produce services and products that better the lives of millions of people.
I am a firm believer that Africans can solve Africa’s problems and these solutions will be marketable globally because what is unique about us is that we are so diverse. We are able to speak to the world because we are a powerful collective. Africa can change the script on how technology evolves; we just need to put the work in to ensure that the technology teams reflect our continent.
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