Magic Johnson On Workforce Diversity: “More Can Be Done”

Estimated reading time ~ 2 min
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Earvin Magic Johnson with Jopwell cofounders Ryan Williams (left) and Porter Braswell (front).

Breaking into the technology industry as a racial minority can be truly challenging. But leaders like entrepreneur and NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson have been working for decades to combat this, helping bring racial diversity to major corporations across the world.

We caught up with Johnson – a Jopwell investor, mentor, and friend – about the importance of workforce diversity, especially in tech.

What do you think about the lack of diversity in the tech industry? Should underrepresented ethnic minority professionals feel discouraged?

It’s disappointing, the underrepresentation of ethnic minority communities in the tech sector. But I’m encouraged by the awareness and dialogue that is happening. More importantly, I’m encouraged by the creation of companies by diverse founders and by seeing startups beginning to hire chief diversity officers and publicly stating their diversity goals.

What’s your advice to tech companies looking to create more inclusive businesses?

Leaders in tech and beyond need to understand that workplace diversity is a real commitment. It’s more than just a CEO statement on a website. It doesn’t just happen overnight. Companies need to be deliberate and persistent in their efforts to ensure that their employee base is diverse.

What are some of the benefits of investing in building more diverse workforces?

Businesses operate in a global market today. That makes diversity a competitive advantage. A diverse team means different perspectives that actually reflect the market they serve. You can’t make products or services for a global audience if your company doesn’t represent that audience. Representation in an organization extends outward.

What single piece of advice would you give to today’s tech founders and CEOs?

Care about your people. And this brings it back to diversity. Diversity helps companies be better caretakers to their employees, and in turn, their customers. Have an employee base that reflects your customer base. At the end of the day, it’s these employees that make or break a business. Making diversity and inclusion priorities in the workforce helps you attract, recruit, hire, and keep the best and brightest talent. Your company will be better off.

This conversation was also excerpted, in part, on Mashable.

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