#ILookLikeAnEngineer: The response CIOs should be making

I’m glad Isis Wegner likes her job, but I hope she sets her sights as high as she possibly can as she continues to develop her career.

Over the past week, it feels like Twitter (and much of online media in general) has been taken over by the discussion about a hashtag, #ILookLikeAnEngineer, that stemmed from a marketing campaign involving Wegner’s employer, OneLogin. An article on the Christian Science Monitor sums it up:

After her photo for her company’s recruitment campaign drew sexist comments online, Isis Wenger, a platform engineer for San Francisco-based IT firm OneLogin, has launched an effort to fight stereotypes around how people in the tech industry are expected to look. The hashtag #iLookLikeAnEngineer has since become an outlet to showcase engineers’ varying genders, colors, and ages – and has drawn renewed attention to the conversation about diversity in technology.

It has been hugely inspiring to see how not only women but men of various races and ages have been using #ILookLikeAnEngineer to effectively shatter the common belief that this segment of the industry is solely the preserve of white men. Never have a series of selfies been put to a better cause.

As CIOs start seeing and hearing about #ILookLikeAnEngineer, they should bear in mind that workplace diversity is not merely an issue for those who work for tech companies, but in IT departments of all companies. Of course, most IT leaders I know are so eager to get the talent they need they would have no problems hiring a woman or someone of a different race. Instead, they should seize the viral nature of this hashtag and think about how they could use it to encourage people of all backgrounds to consider IT as a career worth pursuing. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Look online (or on Twitter specifically) and find great examples of people using #ILookLikeAnEngineer. Share with your followers and amplify the message behind this movement.
  • Use #ILookLikeAnEngineer in job postings as a way of talking about the inclusive nature of the work environment you’re trying to create.
  • At your next speaking opportunity — whether it’s internally at a company meeting or at an industry conference — use #ILookLikeAnEngineer to demonstrate how pervasive technology is in the workplace, and that we can only be successful by building the best teams possible.

There may always be a degree of discrimination or outdated thinking that affects IT hiring, but it can be minimized when senior executives play a leading role in conversations such as this, particularly given social media’s reach. Ideally, people like Wegner should make it increasingly difficult to picture what someone working in technology looks like — a word like “engineer” or even “CIO” — might eventually be worth a thousand pictures.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Shane Schick
Shane Schickhttp://shaneschick.com
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