The elephant in the room

On August 29, 2006, in news, by

There’s a saying I use when something is a bit… well uncomfortable to talk about.

There’s an elephant in the corner of the room in the IT world… at least in the rooms I’ve been in anyway (this is totally my personal opinion and my perspective living in California).  Something that I don’t think we’re addressing at all.

Something I’m going to call the Multi-culture problem.

It all started with I went through the drive through restaurant at a place next to my old highschool.  And while the menu board where you ordered was in English, the signs as you drove to pay for the meal were all in Spanish.  And it reminded me that when I was talking to an IT Pro in Italy, I asked him “so do you speak English?” and he indicated that English speaking was an absolute must in the IT world as all the technology documentation was first and foremost in English and then secondly that machine translations of IT content was soooooo bad to make KB articles in his native tongue almost worthless.

It reminded me as well that when it comes to the IT venues I go to, the Microsoft consultants are just like Accountants in our lack of diversity.  We need a lot of sunscreen and sunblocker in the room.  That means we’re mostly white anglo saxon types.  There’s not a lot of diversity at all in the venues I’ve been in. 

As a business owner I understand that you don’t want to expend the resources into a marketplace that you don’t have a toe-hold in, but at the same time, how do you build up that critical mass if you don’t have the attitude of “If you build it, they will come”.  So if there are locations in my city that acknowledge that English is not the native tongue, and in fact cater to this ethnic diversity that I live in, why is the Microsoft IT world so far behind when it comes to translations and seemingly as well in representation?  Granted I understand that much of this has to do with licensing issues and what not, as from what Carlos says, it’s very hard to compete with the licensing that Microsoft brings to the table, but is it also, the age old myopic view of the United States and North American continent?  I mean not to be mean here, but this board of directors doesn’t look that diverse if you know what I mean…

Conversely, look around your own city and your own clientele…. are you catering or considering multi-language software because your clients need to support two languages? Is your city becoming more multi-cultural and what are you doing to anticipate the need for such services?


3 Responses to The elephant in the room

  1. SBSer says:

    ” I mean not to be mean here, but this board of directors doesn’t look that diverse if you know what I mean…”

    Susan, interesting point of view…. But I would rather take the board of directors that is qualified to do the job. “Cultural diversity” should not have anything to do with picking your board…..

  2. alunj says:

    However, if the only ones qualified to do the job are middle-aged white guys, you have to ask whether the qualification process is at some stage discriminatory, and/or biased.
    The biggest thing you can do to improve your penetration into a market-space is to take advice from someone in that space. Whether it’s a new language, or a new culture (even within the same country – truck adverts in Washington are very different from those in Texas!), how are you going to reach the maximum number of people if you’re unconsciously giving off the image that “we’d like your money, but we don’t have anyone like you working here, except possibly for the guy who empties the trash cans every night”?

  3. alunj says:

    Personally, I wish that Microsoft would produce a localised version of Windows in English.