The DEI Issue No One Is Talking About
You can do everything else right, but if your DEI initiative doesn’t also address this one thing…well, you’re doing it wrong.
Spend any time job hunting and you’re likely to see one requirement pop up over and over again, mocking you like the dog from Duck Hunt. Sometimes its pinned to the top of the job description, sometimes it’s buried at the bottom in the small text, but it’s usually there. Finding a job listing without it is incredibly rare these days, and the competition for those kinds of jobs is extremely tough. And, for a specific subset of the American workforce, seeing these few words listed in a job description can be one of the most disheartening aspects of searching for their next opportunity.
Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in software engineering, computer science or related field
“But wait,” you might say, “don’t you want people who are qualified for the job to apply?”
Of course I do. I think everyone does. But the mistake here is conflating education with qualification: graduating from a four-year college program in any discipline doesn’t make you qualified to then go practice that discipline, it simply means you took some classes and have some [mostly] theoretical knowledge about a subject. If a degree equaled qualification then doctors wouldn’t spend an additional four or more years after graduation continuing to learn and hone their craft; the same goes for lawyers, pilots, and many more professions. It is important to divorce the notion of education from qualification if we want to have a candid conversation about what it means to be truly qualified for a position, especially in industries like technology, design, and various media verticals where the lines between personal and professional experience are blurred and growing more so with each year.
So why are companies insisting on requiring at least a four-year degree to be considered for their positions? Well, that question isn’t so easy to answer — the number of reasons for the requirement can be as numerous as there are companies but I do want to address a few of the more common reasons that I’ve come across.