From Now to Next

Tech Exec to Tech Exec: Build a More Diverse Leadership Pipeline

In this article:
Attracting new and diverse talent requires a more innovative approach to finding the right people. Now is the time to be open to new possibilities instead of defaulting to the usual suspects. Representation matters. Throw the net wide and, rather than thinking of geography as an obstacle, consider it an opportunity.

When technology leaders were asked how to build a better pipeline to attract the tech leaders of the future, their answers revealed that being open to new possibilities, qualifications, and geographical locations were top priorities. The status quo need not apply.

Simona Rollinson

Chief Operating Officer


Schaumberg, Illinois

The pipelines to tech careers, particularly in leadership roles, are still leaky for women, people of color, and other marginalized groups. It is a myth that things are fair and equal. But we need to patch those pipes as quickly as possible because representation matters. Recruit diverse pools of candidates. Make sure job descriptions are true to the requirements of the job, and if a college degree is not essential, make it a preference instead of a requirement. To make paths to leadership more equitable, make work-life balance an organization-wide issue, not a women’s issue. If it is available for all, it is easier for everyone—moms, single parents, people with medical conditions, caregivers of older family members—to advance.



Pablo A. Destefanis

Chief Information Officer

Associated General Contractors of America

Arlington, Virginia

Be open and creative when recruiting. In a globalized world in which distances have diminished relevance, your city or area does not need to be a limit. Try new channels for recruiting and ask if the channels you previously used may be blocking your view of the talent pool. Assess your hiring process: Is it standard and fair? Could it harbor any biases? Look inward and make sure you have a harmonious diversity of styles and backgrounds. You need your calm and reflective employees as much as you need your risk-takers, and those that come from a formal IT background as much as those who took a less traditional path.



Justin Lewis

Partner and Chief Information Officer

Smith Moore & Associates

Sacramento, California

The most important quality in a tech leader is curiosity. Curiosity is everywhere, regardless of age, race, station, or gender. Curiosity is more than asking how and why. It’s asking why, then doing everything they can to answer that for themselves. Ultimately, what they learn along the way gives them the foundation to good tech leaders. Find your curious people, give them what they need, and get out of their way.



Villy Savino

Vice President of Technology Transformation

CoreNet Global


To attract more diverse talent, it’s important for organizations to start with eliminating any possibility of confirmation biases within the hiring process—from job posting creation, review of the candidate pool, interview process, and hiring selection. Specifically for tech leaders, organizations should look for candidates with diverse skills, knowledge, and background. This approach will provide a talent pool with fresh perspectives and experiences, which increases the potential for productivity, creativity, and innovation for the organization.



Rebecca Headrick, MBA

Chief Technology Director

Illinois CPA Society


One of the most important yet underappreciated steps in building diversity is formalizing and prioritizing the effort. Moving from strategy to action requires documenting goals and success criteria into a formalized plan. Consider expanding your talent search to nontechnical backgrounds for certain roles. You don’t necessarily need an engineering degree to succeed in tech. Skillsets and experience in marketing, communications, operations, and even sales can contribute significantly to a successful technology role.



Jay Brodsky

Chief Digital Officer

American Geophysical Union

Washington, DC

Finding talent where they live—not just where we’re headquartered—is going to be key to continuing to fill our diverse pipeline. DC is a great location for diversity, but the high cost of living can make it challenging to find mission-driven junior staff members. We can grow them into the nonprofit tech leaders of tomorrow if we can get them on the team, working remotely, today.

Lisa Boylan

Lisa Boylan is a senior editor of Associations Now.

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