Blockchain’s Woeful Lack of Diversity

pic #1Source: Unsplash

When speaking about diversity within the blockchain world, it’s helpful to start with the state of the broader tech ecosystem. If you work in tech or follow the industry closely, you are probably aware that it suffers from a lack of diversity. To put things in perspective, the below graphic shows a sample of Big Tech companies and how they fare on gender and ethnic diversity.

Big Tech Diversity

Source: Information is Beautiful

In summary, not good (to put it nicely).

Given this, it should be no surprise that the state of diversity is even worse in a frontier technology ecosystem like blockchain. It is estimated that females make up approximately 9% of the Bitcoin ecosystem, which includes entrepreneurs, investors, and casually interested individuals. In terms of ethnic diversity, I have not been able to find any data, but one can assume the numbers there are similarly dismal.

Why You Should Care

If you are an investor or an entrepreneur in the space, you would be wise to take diversity seriously for the following reasons.

Diverse Teams Perform Better

Studies show that teams who are gender and ethnically diverse perform better. Why is that? Because diverse teams are more innovative, bring a greater range of perspectives, are less likely to suffer from groupthink. I could go on and on, but here is a more in-depth analysis on the outperformance of diverse teams.

Threat of Biased Products

Homogeneous teams are much more likely to let their biases influence their work. Case in point: Google’s biased search algorithm fiasco. Biases can and, unfortunately, will creep into blockchain product development for many teams and it will be to their ultimate detriment.

Threat of Increasing Inequality

The developments of ground-breaking technologies create significant wealth-generating opportunities that can exacerbate wealth inequalities if we do not foster an inclusive ecosystem. Diversity debt is real, and creating an inclusive company becomes exponentially difficult as it grows if it does not start out as diverse. If we live an a world increasingly defined by haves and have-nots, we will all be worse off for it.

Call to Action

I urge the blockchain community to take this issue seriously and to make efforts to address it. Luckily, there are organizations doing great work already, such as Collective Future and SHE(256). However, if we want to make sure that blockchain reaches the potential that excites so many of us, we need to do more to make the ecosystem inclusive. It will take the perspectives and lived experiences of everyone to create products and services that can impact the masses.

If you are, or know folks from underrepresented demographics that are either looking to break into the space or seeking mentorship, please have them fill out this form.  As a first step, I will be taking meetings / calls to offer any help or guidance that I can, with a view on establishing a more formal mentorship program in the future. If you would like to contribute as a mentor, please get in touch with me via Twitter @chris3collins. The truth is, it takes a village, so if you are working in the space and want to contribute to build out this initiative I’d love to connect.

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