Silicon Valley is often under fire for the inequalities very visibly present - from female founders only receiving 2% of all VC investments in 2017 to often reported discrimination and sexism. Women should lead equally, found new ventures, and drive innovation. Silicon Valley needs to tap into their innovative spirit and quickly ensure equal funding, opportunities, and employment for all.
So when we learned about a Silicon Valley tech executive who fundamentally understands that diversity improves innovation & profitability, we wanted to find out more and understand what pushes someone to join this mission. We want to understand where the problem stems from and how 50/50 representation is going to be achieved - especially in a place like Silicon Valley.
Meet David Moran. David is the co-founder and Chairman of Eversight, Inc. Eversight leverages AI and experimentation to create and deliver smart, dynamic pricing and targeted promotions at scale. Prior to founding Eversight, David led Global Revenue Management for Anheuser-Busch InBev. Earlier, David was a leader in McKinsey & Company’s Consumer Pricing Practice where he developed strategies for global brands in retail and CPG. David has also been a guest lecturer for Stanford University Graduate School of Business and University of Southern California Marshall School of Business. His research interests include pricing, digitally connected commerce, and applied behavioral economics.
1. Unconscious Bias is the Biggest Battle
It is our belief, and Moran’s belief, that unconscious bias is hinders gender diversity in organizations by reducing upward mobility and opportunity. But according to Moran, unconscious bias doesn’t mean you can’t put structures in place to promote diversity. “A lot of the time I think there is benign intent there,” says Moran. “Unless you’re actively flagging it...you end up back where you started, through no malevolent action.”
Moran explains that unconscious bias has real consequences at the onset of an organization - when looking to hire, particularly in tech. If the recruiter is unconsciously only green lighting resumes of people who “typically” fit the part, you’re going to get a biased sample right off the bat. He also explains, that in his experience, homophily or self-selection bias strongly impacts an organization and can (quickly) skew a company one way or another. In Moran’s experience, female leaders of engineering teams often attract and hire female engineers, and even attain (the elusive) 50/50 representation. “People like things that are similar,” says Moran. “It’s not unreasonable to expect that there’s going to be a bias for a group no matter how skewed it is to stick towards that group unless you actively work to change that.”
2. It’s Better For Your Business’s Bottom Line
Gender diversity isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also improves the bottom line. It has been shown that organizations see a 2-4% increase in profitability for every 10% increase in diversity. “As important as it is to me personally, I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t think it would help our business” says Moran. “You get better people, you get a better team, better teams do better work, you will be more successful.” It’s not that tough to sell that fact to anyone, but the problem is that it becomes extremely difficult to know what to do about it once you understand it’s beneficial in more than one way.
“As you start to see successes, it starts to become clear why it’s worth doing it,” explains Moran. Instead, he wishes people would see that they’re missing out on opportunities and could be running a better business if they put in the effort to implement diversity standards. “It’s a lot more fun to do this when you see the rewards of it in terms of the company performance then if you feel like it’s some obligation because you’ve got to check some box.”
3. There’s Not One Silver Bullet That Fixes This
With that being said, though, executing a gender diversity program or structure is not an easy task. Moran has been a large part of why his company, Eversight, Inc., has reached a 40/60 representation. Though, he makes sure to tell us that he’s still dissatisfied since they haven’t yet reached 50/50. “There’s been a lot of work put into it and it’s still not quite there,” he says. “If there was stuff we knew we could do to make it better, we’d be doing it...I don’t think we’re done by any stretch of the imagination.”
Some of the support structures that Eversight began to put in place slowly started helping the company’s diversity standards - and bottom line. They implemented a third-party blinded survey to give unbiased opinions and reactions to how the company is running, and consistently push to have behaviorally accurate rating scores for how they recruit and the basis by which they judge current and potential employees. The organization also works to get high performing, and often junior employees, in front of executives and board members to try and create mentorship opportunities outside of what’s provided internally. They also pay for memberships to networking groups, such as Network of Executive Women, for both women and men. Moran explains, “it’s not because we think that’s like some magic cure-all, but it’s an incremental step towards [getting rid of] bias in various forms.”
4. There ARE Things You Can Do To Start
But don’t be scared off by the fact that there’s not one answer. Moran tells us there are a few things that organizations can do right now to jumpstart gender diversity efforts. First, make sure your internal processes and controls are not creating a bad environment. There are things from recruitment, to L&D, to mentorship and networking opportunities that can be addressed fairly easily. Are your recruiters interviewing or hiring because the potential employee also went to the recruiter’s university or was in the same fraternity or sorority? Or do they have behaviorally anchored reasons for reviewing people?
Second, Moran suggests something that continuously works for his company - awareness. “Have it be a regular point of conversation as you’re checking through how you recruit, the types of teams you’re building, the ways you’re reviewing people, or how you’re evaluating success in a role,” he says. If you step back regularly and evaluate how the organization is doing, what’s working well, and what’s not working well, you’re showing your company that you care about its future and are making consistent efforts to analyze the work being done. “Just being aware is I think already a big step forward compared to anything else.”
The key for David, is that he wields diversity as a competitive advantage. He knows that to attract and retain the very best talent available, he needs create an inclusive environment for all people, not just half the population. And from our perspective, Moran’s company is one that women and any underrepresented group should flock to. And one that companies looking to implement a gender diversity program should use as inspiration. In the land of Silicon Valley and Brotopia, finding a leader like Moran is the best way to forge a fulfilling & successful career on your terms.
If you know of a company or individual that is working hard towards workplace diversity, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org - we would love to celebrate their hard work!