Building more inclusive technology means building inclusive teams
To develop the groundbreaking innovations of the future, we will need to build more inclusive technology teams today.
Research has shown that diversity pays off for companies. Diverse teams often perform better, make better decisions, and are more profitable than less inclusive teams. They are also more innovative. But to achieve greater inclusivity, the industry must take meaningful action to better represent the world we live in.
Women and many communities of color remain significantly underrepresented in the tech industry. Black and Latino professionals currently make up 9% and 8%, respectively, of the workforce in STEM occupations, which is far less than their representation in the workforce overall. Women represent about 25% of the workforce in computer and engineering professions, although they make up approximately 51% of America’s college-educated workforce.
Although it is important to ask Why We haven’t made much progress to change these statistics, but it’s important to talk about them how We can move the needle. This is something I think about every day in my role leading Mastercard’s seven global technology centers, where we create and operate the systems that support the economy and build the technology that constantly reshapes it. We work to foster a more inclusive economy that better supports all the people we serve and creates opportunities open to all.
Good technology starts with talented people. Throughout my career building teams from the ground up, I’ve learned that developing transformative products isn’t just about technical prowess — it’s also about lived experience. Creativity often arises from an individual’s desire to solve an everyday problem that he or his community faces.
But innovation is rarely a solitary endeavor. We have to create more environments where innovation can flourish, and where diverse perspectives can blend to create something new that makes life better for all of us.
Bring a more diverse representation of technology
There is no silver bullet for inclusion. It will require a multi-faceted approach and dedicated spaces where technologists and the community can connect and create together. Our technology centers reflect this spirit.
Our technology centers are located in St. Louis, New York City, Arlington, Virginia, Dublin, India, Sydney, and Vancouver, Canada, and they are not your typical offices. These state-of-the-art facilities create a connected ecosystem that unites 40% of our workforce and experts from diverse backgrounds and specializations. You’ll often find employees from software development, finance, data engineering, cybersecurity, and even communications collaborating closely. The work they produce impacts not only our global client base, but our communities more broadly.
Mastercard continually collaborates with the local communities where our technology centers are located. We worked with our engineering and Start Path engagement teams to create business competitions for underrepresented groups. We’ve also joined forces with organizations like Access Point and Launch Code to develop apprenticeship programs in St. Louis. Louis and New York City Tech Hubs, respectively, creating a diverse technologist pool for our organization. Mastercard employee-led business resource groups also continue to play a vital role in shaping our connections to the community, with employees participating in various activities, such as serving as business coaches or volunteering.
Exchanging ideas and learning from each other is crucial to creating more inclusive products and services. Our Tech Hub partnerships with local colleges and universities create research and collaboration opportunities for us to advance human-centered design and create a digital payments ecosystem that promotes greater financial access and inclusion.
We have established many partnerships with universities across the country, including historically black colleges and universities. One of these programs, an externship program with Howard University, allows Howard professors who teach software engineering, product development design, and their students to spend the summer with our executives, our R&D organization, and the product and engineering teams.
Partnerships like this help us build real connections with the community and engage the next generation of innovators. In May, dozens of students earning associate degrees in network management and information security at LaGuardia Community College in Queens completed a nine-month apprenticeship at the New York City Tech Hub and hit the ground running. Full time in the company.
The work we do to build these bridges is more powerful when we as a team can personally participate in these efforts. What I love about working at Mastercard is the support that employees receive to bring their authentic selves to work – and in the support we have when we share our skills, expertise and experience with the greater community.
Communicate with communities
I recently joined colleagues to participate in our Racial Justice Pro Bono program, which connects employees with nonprofits working to advance racial equity. We have been in touch with a local organization that supports Africatown, a historic black community in Alabama founded by the last group of West Africans transported to the United States to work as slaves in 1860, more than 50 years after the United States officially abolished the slave trade.
Working alongside diverse colleagues from across the business, we developed a range of strategies to expand Africatown to increase tourism to the region, including building the framework for their new website, creating a social media strategy and collaborating with the local Chamber of Commerce.
Engaging with communities not only enriches our organization, but also drives us to create more comprehensive solutions. This is the kind of purpose-driven culture we cultivate in our global technology centers that can—and should—extend far beyond the physical walls of our building.
Engaging with the communities that call our tech centers home means more than just establishing a physical presence in different locations; This means becoming active participants in the fabric of their regions. At several of Mastercard’s technology centers, we promote programs like Girls4Tech, Mastercard’s STEM education program for girls, and Black Girls Code, a nonprofit for Black girls in STEM. One of our most hands-on experiences at the New York City Tech Hub is through Break Through Tech’s Winternship program, a series of career development workshops and a three-week paid mini-internship experience in January for women and other underrepresented groups. at the City University of New York who wish to pursue a career in technology.
What our organization has done should not be revolutionary, but it is absolutely necessary. Diversity isn’t just important for diversity’s sake. It is a real strategic asset for companies that makes them more competitive and allows them to build products that are more responsive to their customers’ needs.
Through our global technology hubs, multi-million-dollar investments in underrepresented communities, a focus on inclusive leadership, and partnerships with organizations dedicated to advancing equity and inclusion, we harness diverse talent and perspectives to drive innovation. We use these spaces and initiatives to create a vision of what the next evolution of technology will look like – a vision in which community and industry intersect to create a more inclusive future.