Why Diversity Matters in IT Hiring

Building a network of diverse IT talent--people who will be ready for your next job opening--is a year-round task with a big payoff, says a former divisional CIO at GE

Margot Sharapova was, until recently, the CIO of GE Healthcare Medical Diagnostics, a General Electric division with more than 5,000 employees in 50 countries. Her career path has taken some interesting turns: After graduating from Dartmouth, she moved to Siberia to teach English (she speaks Russian fluently). She joined GE Plastics in 1995 through an Information Management Leadership Program, and then moved into CIO roles at a succession of GE divisions.

In an interview, Margot offers her philosophy on attracting great talent and building a diverse team.

As a CIO, what has been your approach to diversity?

My approach has been to actively engage with internal and external groups that support diversity in professional development. You have to make the effort on a regular basis. It is no different than college recruiting--you can't just show up once a year and expect to be taken seriously. When you have a job opening to fill, you should have already been visible and available as a speaker or mentor. CIOs need to be recruiting every day.

Is diversity broader than gender or ethnicity?

Yes--I also strive for diversity of thought. For example, here is the breakdown of my direct reports at GE: a Brit who lives in Norway, an Indian based in the U.K., an Indian woman based in India, an IT architect born and raised in New Jersey, and an Indian and Ghanaian in New Jersey. We had robust staff conversations.

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