Changemakers: How Autodesk Is Flipping the Narrative on Diversity in Technology

Autodesk’s principal UX designer calls on Big Tech to challenge systemic barriers, starting with honest dialogue and equitable hiring.

Published oct. 29, 2020

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The U.S. technology industry is well known for being monochromatic. Its workforce, particularly its technical talent, is made up of predominantly white men. And for an industry that prides itself on agility and constant innovation, change has been surprisingly difficult.

Industry leaders verbally affirm the well-established connection between diversity and product creativity, the lifeblood of technology. But they just haven’t been able to figure it out. Some argue that the fundamental issue is a “pipeline problem”—there aren’t enough women and people of color with the right tech credentials.

Omari Brandt, a principal UX designer for Autodesk, has a different answer. He thinks technology companies need to change the narrative by encouraging dialogue that moves beyond good intentions and ensures that new opportunities are created for all. And as a leader and technical expert at Autodesk, Brandt knows something about the issue.

Autodesk makes software for people who make things. The company is a leading global developer of design software for the architecture, engineering, construction, media and entertainment, and manufacturing industries. If you’ve ever driven a high-performance car, admired a towering skyscraper, used a smartphone, or watched a great film, chances are you’ve experienced what millions of users have built with Autodesk software.

At JFF, we’ve seen that Impact Employers like Autodesk favor potential over pedigree in their hiring processes. They recruit from diverse candidate pools and get involved in their communities to cultivate and draw talent from multiple pipelines.

JFF’s Carey O’Connor recently spoke with Brandt about how he is helping Autodesk change the narrative about diversity tech talent—and become a company that leads the way with equity and opportunity.

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