Antidotes for Bro-Culture

Julia Kanouse

CEO at Illinois Technology Association (ITA)



What is bro-culture? It's a business world that favors young men at the expense of everyone else. It has deleterious effects on diversity and the bottom line and can stifles creativity and innovation. As a few high-profile PR disasters have proven, the tech industry nationally has a problem with "bro-culture."

Actions taken

I attended the Chicago Tech Summit last month and sat in on talks related to this industry problem. But what I heard from the CEOs and senior leaders that spoke wasn't bro-talk but instead humbleness and pragmatism. In general, I believe Chicago has managed to keep bro-culture to a minimum because of the nature of the region. A couple key insights being:

  • The way's VC's invest in companies here make us less susceptible
  • The people who choose to reside in Chicago, due to the extreme weather, are characterized by a strong resilience and reasoned passion
  • Chicago has a historic culture of resilience from the need to battled back from taxing economic conditions such as deindustrialization and offshoring time and time again

Lessons learned

This climatological and historical seasoning has created a culture of measured enthusiasm. Chicago's restraint gives credit to skillful practice, collaboration and satisfaction over self-promotion. This reasonable approach keeps the bro-down to, thankfully, a bare-minimum. However, it also curtails the exhibitionism that tech values with both eyeballs and dollar signs. There tends to be a false conflation between showmanship and innovation, and Chicago tech's national presence is a victim of that false conflation. We're better workers than we are showmen, and we tend to be more concerned about getting it done than with telling you about it. https://www.illinoistech.org/news/374754/ITA-Exec-Spin-Antidotes-for-Bro-Culture.htm

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Julia Kanouse

CEO at Illinois Technology Association (ITA)

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyCulture DevelopmentCareer GrowthCareer ProgressionDiversity ImpactDiversity HiringOvercoming BiasTeam & Project Management

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