Racial Inequality: 15% Surveyed Say Tech Companies Doing Too Much

“I was really astounded,” says TrustRadius' CEO. Learn more about what the report uncovered.

Kelly Teal, Contributing Editor

October 12, 2020

4 Min Read
Racial Inequality in Business

Achieving inclusivity and overcoming racial inequality for people of color in the technology industry appears to be a ways off.

That’s according to new research from TrustRadius, a business software review site.

And the discovery that most surprised Vinay Bhagat, CEO of TrustRadius?


TrustRadius’ Vinay Bhagat

“I was really astounded by the fact that 15% of our respondents believe that the tech industry is doing too much to address racial inequality,” Bhagat told Channel Futures. “This, coupled with our finding that a large number of people of color don’t feel comfortable bringing up issues of discrimination internally, indicates that there is a disconnect between those who don’t believe racial inequality is a problem and those who are working in environments that don’t feel safe and equitable.”

TrustRadius surveyed more than 1,200 tech professionals worldwide in August. The results comprise the basis of its 2020 People of Color in Tech Report.

Two-thirds (66%) of the people TrustRadius polled said tech companies could do more to address racial inequality. Another 18% said companies are doing enough. Yet that final group, the 15%, said they think companies are actually doing too much.

‘Barrier to Progress’

“It’s important to note that 58% of the respondents who said companies are actually doing too much identified as non-Hispanic white,” TrustRadius analysts wrote. “This indicates a potentially major barrier to progress — that the largest group doesn’t seem to have a problem with the status quo, and may even prefer the status quo.”

At the same time, most respondents, regardless of race, seem to agree on one thing. Tech now employs more people of color than it did a decade ago. The majority (65%) from a non-white background said they think there are more people like them now in tech. (Fifty-three percent of overall respondents said they identify as people of color.) Fifty-eight percent of white respondents said the same.

Channel Partners and Channel Futures commit to fostering an atmosphere of diversity and inclusion in the channel. Thus, we feature news articles, first-person accounts and strategies around topics of race to spur discussion of these important subjects. Visit our webpage dedicated to the topic.

“Their perceptions being so closely aligned may indicate that there has in fact been an improvement in overall numbers for people of color in the field,” TrustRadius notes in its report.

Even so, TrustRadius added, the tech sector “may still not be moving at a fast enough pace to significantly combat racial inequality and achieve representation” within its workforce. Until that happens, it appears that many people of color will feel reluctant to speak up when they encounter discrimination.

“It’s a problem that 35% of people of color don’t feel comfortable going to HR with these experiences,” Bhagat said. “We need to figure out why that is. As a leader, I’m not able to address discrimination unless I know it’s occurring.”

Bhagat says he has faced “verbal and physical abuse” because of his race. Some employers have put career barriers in his way as well. Thus, he wants to help tech leaders do more to embrace people of all heritages. He suggests organizations “source from a diverse candidate pool, address unconscious bias and ensure people of color feel welcome.” That includes channel partner organizations.

Inclusive and Unbiased Hiring

“Tech leaders should make sure their work environment is fully inclusive and unbiased — that people feel welcome when they interview, that they succeed and thrive based upon their performance and that collaboration is unhindered by other factors,” he said. “I’ve found that standardizing how we report on goals and performance, and bringing visibility to progress on a weekly basis using the software tool 15Five, has helped. I’d definitely recommend it.”

In terms of TrustRadius itself, Bhagat admits in the introduction to the report that it, too, needs to improve.

“I know my house is not in order,” Bhagat wrote. “The primary issue for TrustRadius to tackle is diversity.”

To do this, he told Channel Futures, TrustRadius is holding a series of workshops on unconscious bias. These sessions include homework and tests.

“We’re also actively reporting on the diversity of our candidate pipelines and hiring decisions,” he said. “This becomes the impetus to do better at working to improve the diversity of our hiring pipeline. You’ll also see us continuing support for Code2College by volunteering as a company, to help their mission of broadening opportunity and diversity in the next generation of talent for the tech industry.”

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About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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