Diversity is a Benefit

By Tracy Levesque

March 10, 2016

Last week I spoke at PressNomics, a conference for businesses, entrepreneurs, freelancers and other folks who work in the WordPress ecosystem. My presentation, called Diversity Works, was about the lack of diversity problem in the tech industry.

My talk covered why we should be concerned, why we have a lack of diversity, and what we can do about it. One concept I touched on was:

Diversity ≠ Low Quality | Homogeneity = Less Quality

I want to to elaborate on a key point I was unable to squeeze into my 30 minute talk. In an interview with Bloomberg, Sequoia Capital Chairman Michael Morit was questioned about the lack of women VCs at Sequoia. he said:

In fact, we just hired a young woman from Stanford who’s every bit as good as her peers. And if there are more like her, we’ll hire them. What we’re not prepared to do, is to lower our standards.

-Michael Moritz

Jessica Nordell wrote an excellent piece on what is wrong with his statement.

Now, no one had asked, “Are you willing to lower your standards?” No: that was the question he heard when asked about hiring women. That was the association he made. Here, then, is a map of his synaptic firings: women → lower standards.

-Jessica Nordell

This connection – pursuing diversity means a lowering of standards – needs to end because it is wrong.

We need to get over this mental hurdle in order to solve the tech industry’s problem of lack of diversity. There is nothing inherent about being a member of a marginalized community that makes you unqualified. I would hope that would be obvious. 

When pushed to make your company or conference more diverse, it is not a lowering of standards but a leveling-up in overall quality.

Diversity Makes your Company / Organization / Conference Better

Research has proven there are benefits to diversity.

An organization of qualified, diverse people is better than one comprised of qualified homogeneous people.

When you have a choice between two equally qualified candidates, the person who brings more diversity to your team brings more value.

To quote my friend Marc Coleman, founder of The Tactile Group:

When we have to choose among equally qualified candidates, we choose the candidate that will best maintain our culture of diversity.

As business owners we are all looking for ways to make our companies better. Having diversity in our organizations is a proven way we can do that.

Philadelphia Geek Awards 2014

By Tracy Levesque

August 19, 2014

On Saturday, August 16, 2014, the Annual Philadelphia Geek Awards succeeded as one of the best geek/tech events of the year, and it’s only August! A big congratulations to Geekadelphia and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University for hosting an absolutely incredible evening. The afterparty at North Bowl, with late night snacks and opportunities to socialize with presenters and winners,  capped off  a great night. As a proud sponsor this year, YIKES, Inc. Co-Owners, Mia Levesque and Tracy Levesque attended, both for the first time. What did they think?

Mia:

The Philly Geek Awards offers the best of Philadelphia. Geekadelphia managed to not only bring together a diverse cross section of people from different social, cultural, and technology backgrounds, but also created an event that celebrated all things geeky. This provided attendees a unique opportunity to jump outside their bubble for an evening and plunge into a broader world of Philadelphia Geekdom.

The diversity of attendees, nominees, and winners was impressive and made me proud to be a part of the Philadelphia tech community. The wide range of award categories provided a glimpse at the incredible projects Philadelphians are working on.

Not only an inspirational event but pure fun, I am already looking forward to 2015.

Tracy: 

I absolutely loved The Philly Geek Awards. I found myself grinning the entire time.

It was cool to see what folks are doing in areas of geekdom outside of web development. It made me so proud of Philadelphia. I wouldn’t want to own a tech company anywhere else.

I was also thrilled to meet Kid Hazo. I’m a big fan, and we have one of his pieces up in the office. It was great to meet him in person.

YIKES would like to congratulate all the winners, nominees, and organizers. View all the winners at NewsWorks.

Mia and Tracy with Joel Hodgson from MST3K
Mia and Tracy with Joel Hodgson from MST3K