Saturday, November 22, 2008

Does Racism Still Exist in IT Industry?

Don Tennant is editor for Computerworld who shared disturbing news from the results in Computerworld's 2008 IT Salary Survey. Mr. Tennant wrote about the survey last year. He noted that African Americans were underrepresented in the IT profession, with only a 3% showing, and that their compensation was significantly lower than that of their white counterparts.

Unfortunately, Mr. Tennant points out in his editorial entitled, 'Hoping for equality in the IT profession' that the 3% figure is unchanged, and if anything, the compensation gap is even wider. Last year, African-American IT workers made just 86.4 cents for every dollar white IT workers made (average total compensation of $78,582, compared with $90,901). This year, it was 85.9 cents ($80,733 vs. $93,977).

Maybe the issue is deeper still. There are so many in our industry who feel that racism no longer exists ... after all, didn't we just elect a Black man to be our president?

What is your take on the standing of African Americans in the IT industry as we move into the new year?


Frank Hill said...

First of all, I hesitated in responding on this topic because it brings up a lot of emotions and it has many facets, however, having said that. On the topic of salary disparities, this is to be expected, not accepted, however, certainly expected. Increased salary usually means equitable "performance increases" in a persons competing population. My sense is that this is not happening. I am tempted to provide solutions to this, however, I think the best course is to ask the question of IT employers and let them wrestle with this. Change will only come when they have done their own "Root Cause Analysis" and made decisions on how the deal with the issue.

Villager said...

Frank - I am surprised and honored to have the past president of the BDPA Cincinnati chapter visiting our blog. This blog business is lonely when you and other blog readers hesitate to respond. I hope you will visit and comment often in the future.

I agree with your assessment of this issue. I'm glad that BDPA uses the Epsilon award process to recognize and honor those corporations that do good in these areas. We probably need to create a process to identify those companies that do a poor job of it.

...especially in these hard times. I imagine that Black IT professionals are going to have it rough with all the downsizing and layoffs that continue to occur in the banking industry and elsewhere.

I wonder how many IT professionals are working at GM or Chrysler?

Julius said...

First, I feel that the Computerworld article’s point regarding “intangibles” -- subjective factors that determine where in the compensation range an individual falls, can be addressed partly due to one’s ability or inability to build a trusted relationship with manager and levels higher. I have held positions where I have been in the “trusted circle” and when I was not. When I was allowed into “trusted circles”, my salary was always positively affected, where I was compensated at or above my peers. Unfortunately, if one is not happy in their position due to being treated unfairly, you will eventually leave.
Secondly, I believe that the corporate climate changes depending on which political party is in power. Hopefully, now that we have a black president and that the democrats have control of both houses we should see the country’s climate more welcoming for African Americans in more fields.
Finally, when asked how satisfied African-Americans were with their decision to pursue an IT career, 89.3% of African-Americans said they were satisfied or very satisfied. That's the highest percentage of support for the career path voiced by any ethnicity, including whites, at 84.5%. We love the career of IT and our positive attitude alone will make a difference. I feel that the BDPA does an excellent job teaching this to its members. – Julius Clark

Villager said...

Julius - It is wonderful to have comments from the BDPA Charlotte president-elect! I'm glad to see that you recently created your own blog. Good luck with it!

As for racism in our industry. You bring up some good points. I hope that your optimism pans out with some better results over the coming months. However, I fear that a number of IT professionals will be looking for construction jobs with the big infrastructure contracts that the federal gov't is gonna be giving out next year (smile)!

I hope you have reason to come back often...

David Wynn said...

Having spent the last 10 years of my career as a contracting/consulting employee, I recognize racism still as a major negative factor for Black Americans in the workforce. Those in command have been brainwashed to believe that the hue of your skin belies your ability to learn, perform, progress and achieve. On alevel playing field, people of color can and do succeed and pay an important part in many companies, governmental agencies and in education circles. And, in my opinion, since a lot of us were 'late bloomers', when we com into our own, we now see a clear pattern of 'ageism' as well. I am proud of my white (not grey) hair and all that it portends. Rest assured, my ideas and thought process is just as strong as it was 30-35 years ago. The brain is, after all, a wonderful muscle. Exercise it - USE IT!

Wayne Hicks said...

David - It is definitely a challenge being a 1099-based contractor in the IT industry ... and the spectre of race hasn't gone away. You point out an important point ... our knowledge, wisdom, education and experience can never be taken away from us. We have to continue to learn and evolve.

I wish you well as you move forward and hope that you find a way to stay connected with BDPA!