Open dialogue, education, hiring, and strategic thinking are just some of the ways top tech companies are improving their diversity and inclusion efforts.\n\nDiversity and inclusion efforts in the workplace have evolved from mostly talk to a steady walk in the last two years, and data shows they\u2019re as critical to a business\u2019s success financially as they are culturally. According to research from McKinsey, diversity helps organizations improve innovation and financial performance, and helps end any outdated ways of thinking that can subtly persist within a company\u2019s social fabric. However, the technology sector as a whole continues to lag.\n\nIn science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) industries, female, black, and Hispanic employees are underrepresented, with female workers making up only 25 percent of computing and 15 percent of engineering jobs. Meanwhile, black workers and Hispanic workers are underrepresented in the STEM workforce as a whole, at 9 percent and 8 percent, respectively.\n\nSo how can tech companies improve their business\u2019 diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategies? Read on to learn what top tech companies based in Northern Virginia \u2014 the business hub of the Washington, D.C. area \u2014 are doing and why they believe it\u2019s important.\u00a0\n\nGet the Conversation Started\n\nIf you\u2019re unsure of what needs to change or improve at your organization, it is best to start an open dialogue within the company. Nazzic Keene, CEO of SAIC, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Fairfax County, Virginia, says, \u201cWe\u2019ve also been very public in our conversation inside the company and arming our leaders with tools and education on how to deal with some of the challenges that come with accelerating our focus.\u201d\n\nBy starting an open conversation and inviting feedback from employees, you can begin to identify needs and areas of concern. Through surveying and analyzing company data, you can begin to see what changes need to be made.\n\nCreate a DEI Strategy\n\nOnce you have the feedback and data, it\u2019s time to create a DEI strategy. Your strategy might include hiring initiatives, implementing, or revising policies, correcting pay, and more. Be sure to set a measurable goal, so you can properly judge how your diversity and inclusion efforts are improving down the road.\n\nRoger Krone, the CEO of Leidos, a science and technology leader based in Fairfax County, shares that they aim to \u201cincrease representation of women and ethnically diverse employees by 10 percent by 2030, as compared to our 2021 baseline. We are charting our progress and focused on meeting or exceeding this goal.\u201d\n\nHire a DEI OfficerWhile your human resources department might be able to lead the improvement of DEI for your organization, many companies are identifying internal champions or committees to action the strategy, with some firms going as far as hiring full-time positions to ensure goals are reached. Many companies are hiring a DEI officer, including Fairfax County-based global firm Booz Allen Hamilton.\u00a0\n\nCEO of Booz Allen Hamilton, Horatio Rozanski, explains, \u201cWhile we recognize our work will never be done, over the past nine months, we have made some key changes that I believe set us up for continued progress and growth toward this goal. [We] hired a chief DEI officer, Jon Mu\u00f1oz, and established our DEI Executive Council to drive progress against our action plan.\u201d\n\nRemember the Work Is Never DoneMoving forward, it\u2019ll be important for tech companies to continually re-evaluate their strategy and seek to improve. Keene explains, \u201cI fundamentally believe that a diverse workforce, in all definitions of the word, creates a better talent pool, helps us make better decisions, and allows us to recruit, hire and retain the best talent in the industry.\u201d\n\nIf you\u2019re looking to expand or relocate your business to a thriving, inclusive business community, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority is here to help. Fueled by its diversity, 10 Fortune 500 and 100-plus Inc. 5000 companies have chosen Fairfax County as their home. To learn more about doing business in Northern Virginia, visit our website.\n\nEditor\u2019s Note: CEO quotes were previously provided for FCEDA\u2019s feature in the March 11-17 issue of the Washington Business Journal.