The tech industry is improving the way we connect, work and play thanks to an innovation revolution that is powering America's economy. But the tech industry has a diversity challenge that needs the same transformational approach to improve our workforce.
We see it as our imperative to do just that.
We are not interested in sugarcoating or defending the indefensible; in fact, we are shining a spotlight on the problem. That is why leading tech companies — including Intel, Google, Facebook LinkedIn, Microsoft and Yahoo — are voluntarily disclosing their diversity numbers. We are owning up to it and are working hard to figure out solutions.
Those solutions must be well thought out and authentic to the tech industry. We pride ourselves on being a meritocracy where a scrappy start-up can become a global leader based on its ability to innovate. We cannot simply redo what the newspaper industry or Wall Street did in the 1990s.
Instead we can, and will, expand our definitions of merit to recognize the importance and value of diversity to our success. Moreover, our efforts will continue to go beyond just dealing with the surface issue of changing the numbers today to longer-term challenges.
That means addressing the problem of getting more students interested in science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
Last year, only 0.4% of freshman college women said they were majoring in computer science. In 12 states, not a single African-American high school student took the advanced placement exam for computer science; the same was true for Latino students in eight states.
Until those numbers move, an entire generation risks missing out on good-paying jobs, and the tech industry will miss out on the unique experiences and perspectives of a diverse workforce.
In recent years, we have launched national efforts to improve the situation, but there is more work to do. To be successful, we need partners from parents to policymakers who value a skilled education as an investment in America's excellence.
We must spark this change together because the stakes are high: More than the future of our businesses depends on it.
This article originally appeared in USA Today and can be found here.