Thesis Title
Diversity Equity and Inclusion in the Technology Industry: The ‘making’ of inclusion in the everyday working of design teams

Research Description
Technologies are socio-technical, produced and consumed within structures of ‘power, contestation, inequality and hierarchy’,. They perpetuate the biases of their human creators. Racism, sexism and capitalist values are written into these flawed algorithms.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is a popular mainstream and tech industry discourse. Statistics show that the tech industry is run primarily by white followed by Asian males. Black, Latinx and women employees formed a small percentage – working largely in non-tech, non-management roles.

A popular conclusion drawn from these observations is that ‘diverse teams create better, more inclusive products’ i.e. However DEI policies, thus far, have only been marginally successful.

While diversity research in disciplines like management studies abound, interdisciplinary interrogations rooted in the social sciences, to better understand the diversity-inclusion relationship, are conspicuous by their absence. While it is often said that the ‘tone’ of work culture in an organisation is set by the management, the author submits that it is in the everyday interactions, negotiations and decisions of members of design teams, that inclusion is ‘made’. This research seeks to fill the gap.

India has a large and flourishing tech industry that consists of small start ups and large homegrown tech firms, while also being a noteworthy base for Big Tech companies in Asia. While Big Tech offices in India were introduced to DEI policies through their western counterparts, Indian companies were also quick to develop DEI policies for themselves as the discourse began catching on over the past five years. In exploring the everyday processes that take place between diverse hiring and inclusion, this project seeks to uncover the ways in which the ways diversity, equity and inclusion policies are understood and implemented in tech companies in India.

Prof Yolande Strengers, Monash University
Dr Thao Phan, Monash University