Not that kind of diversity, thank you

Do tech companies even know that religious people exist?

Notice anything missing from this list?

What about this list?

One more:

None of the FAANG tech behemoths even mention religion as a category in their diversity reports:

As Amazon claims, “Representation Matters” so looking at the above lists, you might think that, despite being a legally protected class, and frequent victims of hate crimes, religious people were overrepresented in tech; that it was an unspoken truth that religious people would be welcome at a tech company so no need to encourage them to apply. But the data shows actually the opposite.

A recent survey by the Lincoln Network showed that possibly half of tech workers identify as atheist or agnostic, compared to just 7 percent of the overall US population. Maybe this survey is flawed (I have no idea) but it lines up with my anecdotal experience and even more importantly, it’s the only data available on this question. You would have thought this information would have set off alarm bells across the diversity and inclusion departments but it seems to have been completely ignored.

So what sort of environment does this indifference or marginalization of religion create for the religious?

In the tech industry, a single sexist comment or racially insensitive remark is enough to end your career but mocking someone’s religion (especially Christianity) is completely acceptable. Tech companies will bend over backwards to accommodate a myriad of identities, except those that are religious. To the point that companies can talk endlessly about representation, inclusion and diversity and never mention that our industry has a glaring religion problem.

What am I asking here? Do I think there should be a Director of Religious Diversity at every tech startup? When an atheist engineer makes a crack about evangelicals, should they loose their job?

Not at all. Religious people can handle animosity. We’ve been unpopular before and we’ll be unpopular in the future.

I simply wish tech companies considered is that there are religious people in their midst. Can they make space for us to be religious? You don’t have to endorse our beliefs but you can allow us to do our jobs without compromising our faith. You can have bacon in the cafeteria but you don’t have to make Jewish and Muslim people eat it to be part of the team.

I’ll give one specific example: Orthodox Christians think in terms of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We confess this in our most ancient creeds. But this gendered language runs afoul of the the diversity guidelines in many tech companies. So Christians find ourselves unable to even vocalize what we believe without potentially breaking a code of conduct. This is hardly inclusion. An easy compromise would be for diversity and inclusion departments to have a policy that “gendered terms should be avoided, except in cases where they are used for religious obligations.” A little consideration and accommodation might go a long way towards creating a welcoming place for religious people in the tech industry.

Tech companies, start by recognizing that we exist or at least check if we do in your next diversity survey.