IT leaders commit to diversity to gain competitive edge

Aware that diverse organizations drive better business outcomes, CIOs are reshaping IT cultures by seeking out and elevating more diversity in their IT teams.

IT leaders commit to diversity to gain competitive edge
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With a wife who is aboriginal, and parents who immigrated from Greece to Australia, diversity is a personal issue for Michael Salas, senior vice president and chief information and digital officer of Suez North America, which provides water and waste recycling services to over 7.5 million people in the United States and Canada.

“I know what it’s like to be ostracized,” says Salas, who says he “jumped at the chance” to chair the company’s diversity and inclusion council and pushed for changes in hiring during his three-year term. “It’s something I’m passionate about.”

When Salas came to Suez North America in 2016, women made up 9% of his team; now that figure has grown to 28%. “That’s not where it needs to be, but it’s moving the needle,’’ he says. “I’m a big believer that diversity and inclusivity in your team creates diversity in thought and decision-making in how we apply IT.”

In recruiting for his business technology services team in 2017, for example, Salas says he made sure there was a diverse group of people among senior leadership involved in the process. He also “called people out when potentially there was an unconscious bias toward people that think like them and look like them, rather than trying to build diversity,” he says.

Salas is among a handful of CIOs who have taken concrete steps to build more diverse teams and believe this is a way IT can provide greater business value. In fact, 28% of respondent CIOs cited creating more diverse and inclusive tech teams as key strategy for IT to become more revenue-driven and innovative, according to IDG’s 2021 State of the CIO report.

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