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Dear tech industry: Protesting is important, but it’s not enough

dear tech

For years we’ve watched tech abdicate its responsibility to a racially diverse workforce and audience. If you genuinely want to make tech more inclusive, you must commit to long-term systemic change—today.

Let this be the moment that you change.

 

It has been both heartening and whiplash-inducing to watch the tech ecosystem’s response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and the mass protests across the country they have inspired. It is a testament to organizers on the ground who have worked for years and years, often without the resources they needed, that techies—who have largely struggled in the last three years to address issues of racial inequity and injustice—are among those standing up.

High-wage work in America is not colorblind; it’s not a meritocracy; it’s white. And that goes doubly for tech. Often we hear that the lack of Black and Latinx people in tech is a pipeline issue. That these folks are not pursuing tech educations and careers. But the data show that 20% of computer science graduates and 24% of boot camp grads are Black and Latinx. However, only 6% of the tech industry is Black and Latinx. As legions of racial equity professionals, diversity and inclusion specialists, and educators demanded the tech industry shift, we often heard, “But tech isn’t any worse than anyone else.”

THE BLACK AND LATINX WHISPER NETWORK IN TECH KNOWS THAT TECH COMPANIES ARE AFRAID OF INVESTING IN INCLUSION.”

You’re right! But tech also fashions itself as a world-changing, moonshot making, risk-taking enterprise. It chooses not to apply that ethos to itself for the most consequential issues of our time. Over the last four years, it has also actively hidden, covered up, and made excuses for this lack of effort.The Black and Latinx whisper network in tech knows that tech companies are afraid of investing in inclusion. That tech leaders believe that to come out in favor of a racially equitable workforce will put them in the crosshairs of a president with an itchy Twitter finger, and that their rank and file who are happy with the status quo will revolt.

Code2040 works for the proportional representation of Black and Latinx people in tech at all levels of leadership. We believe that by doing this in tech, we can have an impact on high-wage work across the economy. Since 2017, we have watched as company after company has deprioritized and defunded racial equity work. Roles such as Head of Diversity and Inclusion have shifted to Head of Employee Engagement. We’ve had conversations with HR teams, who, allocated a pittance of a budget for racial equity work, admit the operational cost of the work is too expensive.

We are then asked, as Black and Latinx people, to donate this work to multi-million- (or even multi-billion-) dollar businesses, or to provide services and programs at a discount. That means devaluing Black and Latinx labor, asking Black and Latinx people to work on the very policies and people that dehumanize us for free, and philanthropically subsidizing tech companies.

In moments like this, when police murder another Black person, when gross incompetence is demonstrated at the elected level, we often hear white people with money and power wringing their hands and crying, “What can I do?” or worse, “How does this happen?” Some brave the dangers of the coronavirus to head out and protest. Some start book clubs and post furiously on social media.

While those actions are not useless, they are not where you are best utilized right now, especially if taking urgent action today assuages your guilt and pain and returns you to complacency tomorrow. What we need is for you to commit to this work for the rest of your lives, to strengthen your resilience so that you don’t tire as soon as this moment has passed, and to start with the very hard work of looking at yourself and the anti-Blackness and white-superiority you have internalized and perpetuated—and the many ways in which it has shown up in your work and life.

TECH’S INABILITY TO DIVERSIFY ITS WORKFORCE AS IT DEFINES THE FUTURE PUTS ALL OF US IN DANGER.”

Externally, that starts with where you sleep and where you work (which at the moment are likely the same, but you know what we mean). A lack of proportional representation and the equitable distribution of power across demographics in all our major industries—government, media, healthcare, and yes, tech—left our country, economy, communities, and planet vulnerable. Tech’s inability to diversify its workforce as it defines the future puts all of us in danger. Racial representation and equity means creating the economic, physical, psychosocial, and social conditions at your workplace where Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people can thrive. In the absence of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people—especially Black, Latinx, and Indigenous women—involved in the creation and design of technology, tech is ignorant of the potential repercussions of building the world in such a slanted way.The beauty and power of the protests happening right now is that our communities’ pain is widespread, we are developing a shared, inarguable set of facts about brutality and racism, and we are collectively shifting the Overton window in discussions about systemic racism and the existence of racism in the U.S. However, as a sector, we are not exempt from responsibility and accountability for the decisions that led to this moment or the litany of pain that has gone ignored. Here’s what you can do:

ACCEPT THAT THIS IS AN INSIDE JOB 

Individually seeking and unlearning your internalized racism and white supremacy, and committing to cultural change on your teams and at your organizations. Brace yourself, because if you’re doing it right, you will be uncomfortable. But not as uncomfortable as George Floyd was with a knee to his neck. So keep your perspective. Get versed in how you will talk about it with your friends, peers, parents, children, and social media connections. Then talk about racism and anti-Blackness with your friends, peers, parents, children, and social media connections.

FORCE YOUR COMPANY TO DO MORE

Demand that your company shift from viewing racial equity and diversity as a partisan issue, and commit to changing the internal ideas, cultures, and practices that got us here in the first place. Racial equity and racial justice are not add-ons that help you hire, make good marketing, and make more money. Commit to no longer separating them from the centrality of your work. They are the single most critical, life-and-death issue of our time, and you can have an impact exactly where you are.

Advocate and build budgets that include financial commitments to recruiting and hiring Black, Latinx, and Native people, as well as training so that they are not hired into abusive organizations and managed by people who have not done the work to unpack their racism and anti-Blackness.

Advocate for hiring policies that prohibit university pedigree and GPA as screening mechanisms, reevaluate and overhaul the tech interview process, segment performance review data by race and gender, segment exit interview data by race and gender, publish segmented retention data, and hire no-nonsense racial equity coaches for company leaders. Then don’t fire them when the work gets hard.

COMMIT TO SYSTEMIC CHANGE

Actions that require no sacrifice are meaningless. Raising a tiny fund for Black people or hiring a diversity and inclusion employee to do the work of single-handedly changing the system that harms them will not transform a 400-year-old system and its descendants. Take a stand and commit to doing the work, and require those around you to as well. Let it be known that employees who refuse are refusing a strategic imperative of the company, and then hold them accountable accordingly.

This is the biggest change management initiative you will ever participate in, but we’re all familiar with the power of technology to radically alter how this country lives and the pace of change tech demands. (Most of you are reading this on a smartphone because of that.)

Face this with us. Let this not be a moment where you make tepid commitments for a set of weeks and go back to how you were. Let the pain of our country inspire you to change who we are and the companies we build. Let this moment of uprising in our country make us braver than we’ve been.


Mimi Fox Melton is the general manager for Code2040 and has worked at the intersection of Black and Brown liberation, empowerment, and tech for eight years. Her professional and personal work centers on the liberation of the mind, bodies, and souls of Black and Brown people. Before COVID-19, Mimi was learning the flying trapeze.

Karla Monterroso is the CEO for Code2040 and has worked in communities of color for the last 20 years in support of the leadership of Black and Latinx youth in education, healthcare, and technology. Before COVID-19, Karla was a weightlifter and active hiker with her dog.

VC diversity programs are shifting online to try to maintain momentum

vc diversity online

  • The monumental challenge of tackling venture capital’s systemic lack of diversity is going virtual. 
  • Diversity VC has swapped its internship program for a series of webinars and mentoring sessions, while Included VC opted to run a virtual retreat for its cohort. 
  • VC has a reputation for being among the least diverse industries in the world.

     

    Programs aiming to tackle the venture capital industry’s systemic lack of diversity are shifting online amid the coronavirus pandemic as they try to sustain their momentum.

    This year, London-based Diversity VC and Included VC have tweaked their courses, which aim to get more people into tech investing from diverse backgrounds.

    VC has a reputation for being among the least diverse industries in the world. In the U.S., the industry is 70% white and 80% male, while 40% hail from Stanford or Harvard, according to analysis by Equal Ventures. In the U.K., just 13% of top VC jobs are occupied by women, according to a report from Diversity VC. It’s a self-perpetuating prophecy: most of the industry’s capital still flows to a relatively narrow group of founders who tend to have things in common with the VCs themselves.

    Going digital

    Instead of running its normal “Future VC” internship program for 30 people, Diversity VC decided to run a series of online webinars and mentoring sessions for 300 people.

    The sessions, which began on June 9, are being led by renowned tech investors working in the industry, such as Balderon Capital’s Suranga Chandratillake and Eight Roads’ Lillian Li.

    Check Warner, co-founder and CEO of Diversity VC, said she was concerned that the coronavirus pandemic will have a negative impact on diversity and inclusion in VC.

    “In the face of adversity and trying times, investors may go back to ‘bad habits’, such as relying on their network for introductions to both potential portfolio companies and team members,” said Warner.

    “Stifling diversity of thought in this way is bad for everyone: for VCs, and for tech entrepreneurs. That’s why, in the face of the obstacles, we are keen to ensure Future VC 2020 goes ahead this year.”

    Another program run by Included VC, which offers a 12-month VC fellowship for 40 individuals from diverse backgrounds, was forced to make its cohort “retreats” virtual this year due to the pandemic.

    Fully remote

    “An in-person retreat in Madrid that was scheduled for June was virtualized and events that Included VC encourages fellows to lead in their local communities to share their knowledge about the VC sector have been put on hold,” Included VC co-founder and director Nikita Thakrar told CNBC via email.

    Other initiatives that aim to support start-up founders from diverse backgrounds have also moved online in response to Covid-19.

    Venture capital firm Playfair Capital made its Female Founders Office Hours program “fully remote” earlier this year, rendering geography a “non-issue” in the process. The program allows female founders to meet tech investors.

    “Going fully-remote, via Zoom Breakout Rooms, gave much-needed structure to the scale of 800 one-on-one meetings,” said Henrik Sanchez, a venture capital investor at Playfair Capital.

    “It also enabled us to host a second event at short notice to accommodate huge demand from another 100 founders and 30 VCs.”

Let’s stop COVID-19 from undoing diversity gains

Group portrait of people smiling

 

Women, especially from more disadvantaged backgrounds, are going to be taking the lion’s share of caregiving responsibilities at home during the pandemic, making them more vulnerable to job cuts. At the same time, underrepresented employees in general may feel more marginalized than ever as job security is put on the line.

It’s been hard to get to where we are on diversity and inclusion. Slowly but surely, diversity and inclusion have become a highly visible element of any company. But as COVID-19 turned up the pressure for businesses around the world, that progress came under threat as D&I initiatives took a back seat. The killing of George Floyd and the subsequent protests reignited D&I efforts in magnitude, but how can we ensure that, as time passes, those efforts are maintained with energy and determination?

This may be the shock to the system that will make business leaders realize that diversity is not an accessory or PR stunt — it is an integral part of the daily lives of each and every member of your team. Today’s consumers and your co-workers demand socially conscious companies, which is why D&I is vital to making any startup a well-rounded business. It’s also imperative for supporting economic recovery on a larger scale. Forgetting to preserve and improve D&I as we battle through COVID-19 will not only set us back years in terms of equality, it will worsen our collective chances of getting through this turbulence unscathed.

D&I matters to your business’ survival

It’s understandable that most startups today will be in survival mode. But D&I cannot be cast aside as a nonessential part of your business. It’s quite the opposite. More diversity is a known indicator for better economic performance and improves a business’ chances of thriving through a recession.

We often hear about how diversity means more innovation in a company. Consider just how important this is today. Facing a crisis with no precedent, weighing up a variety of insights and solutions is vital to finding an intelligent lockdown strategy. As business leaders, we need to know what the world around us looks like right now, and that means knowing what people of all backgrounds are experiencing.

We also can’t afford to not take into consideration the long-term effects of today’s actions. Survival can’t mean usurping what your company stands for. If you sacrifice diversity now, you might retain employees for the time being, because they’re scared of being jobless. But you will have undermined the trust that your workers place in you and you will be sure to lose them far more easily once the situation eases. This is very true for customers too — the crisis is driving the public to support purpose-driven and diverse businesses more than ever, and you will be left out if you don’t meet those values.

Even if you’re not hiring, work on diversity and inclusion

So how can a startup keep diversity a priority in this strange new world? Sure, you may not be hiring, but that’s not the only way to improve diversity. Take this time to revisit your internal culture. The virus is forcing us to see our business from different angles — we’re looking into the homes of our co-workers, hearing about the personal issues affecting their work lives and about the work issues affecting their personal lives. Let’s make sure your company culture is not part of the problem.

You need to be accessible. Are some of your employees scared to speak up about their issues? Is there a big morale problem that you haven’t been able to alleviate? If so, then you need to work on making your workspace more inclusive, open and friendly. This is more than building up team spirit with morning coffee Zoom get-togethers and after-work networking. It’s about weeding out any systems that bring repercussions to people who voice their concerns; it’s about encouraging them to do so; it’s about recognizing every member of a team and every person in a meeting, not just the executives present.

The lockdown has shown that many people can work remotely, effectively. Can you use this in future to give employees a greater chance of success — perhaps those who live far from the office, or who have children or elderly relatives to care for? Many HR departments are probably focusing efforts away from hiring at the moment and could instead be put in charge of employee success, which means identifying and addressing the unique concerns of each of your staff (you might even consider assigning a full-time staff member to this role).

This is key to making your company a welcoming place for underrepresented employees who are often more wary of their circumstances than their co-workers, both now and in the future. It will help them grow and want to stay in the company, as well as attract a more diverse employee pool in the future.

In case you are hiring, there are innovative solutions to help you attract more diverse applicants to your company. Joonko’s technology integrates to your applicant tracking system to boost the visibility of underrepresented potential hires. Pitch.Me aims to tackle bias by presenting candidate profiles anonymously, including only relevant information about experience and skills but with no information regarding gender, age or ethnic background. Services like DiTal help tech businesses connect with potential employees from diverse backgrounds.

Reassess what internal success looks like

Before COVID-19, the key performance indicators for your business might have been the number of sales per rep, or the number of leads generated in a week. Those quotas are now unrealistic, and more importantly, they’ll be tougher to reach for employees with less time on their hands. That means people with more caregiving responsibilities — often women — or with less disposable income, and statistics show that people from ethnic minorities are more likely to be affected by the virus.

You have to create a work environment in which people with less time and resources can still achieve their professional goals. We typically hear that 80% of the most valuable work takes up 20% of a team’s time; well, let’s make sure your staff is focusing most of their efforts on that 20% of valuable energy. Build a new business plan that reassesses what the company needs to achieve in the near future, and set new metrics that hyperfocus on that bottom line. Think about how important it is to each of your co-workers’ morale to be able to meet their goals day in day out, despite today’s challenges. Furthermore, being adaptable for the benefit of your staff is an admirable quality that will not easily be forgotten.

An important note — helping everyone reach success means giving everyone the resources to do so. No one in your company should be unequipped to this “new normal,” which means good laptops or devices and speedy internet. Don’t hesitate to invest in people who need it.

Prioritize career development

Career development is vital for underrepresented employees, for whom upward mobility is always harder. People from minority backgrounds tend to have less robust business networks, exactly because they are the minority in the business world. We can never stop fighting this vicious cycle.

So take a look at your team and think about who you can help ascend in their career. Prioritize underrepresented people now because they are more likely to get hit harder by the lockdown and have a tougher recovery. Even if you don’t see it from an altruistic perspective, including underrepresented employees in your leadership now will lead to better economic local recovery and improved outcomes for your company.

One option is sponsorship programs in which you or other senior leaders advocate on behalf of selected employees (as well as acting as their mentors). Think of it as equally distributing the networks and influence accumulated by business leaders among a more diverse pool of people.

Bring diversity into your brand

We’ve looked inward, now let’s look outward. How can you change how your industry looks, even in times of crisis. To reach the huge visible changes we’ve seen in, for example, branding in the fashion industry, took influential people making decisions at powerful tables. But it would be ironically easy to see things regress to a more heterogeneous state.

Stopping this from happening means making those big decisions yourself, and uniting others in joining you. Leverage your brand and bring your internal diversity to the forefront of everything you do — the mentors who give their time to startup organizations, the speakers you put forward for online events. Make a conscious push for your external marketing to display as much diversity as possible, especially amid fears that the advertising space will compromise its diversity standards in response to COVID-19.

Support other underrepresented founders

If you have the resources, help struggling founders get through the lockdown. There may be small or mid-sized women or minority-led companies within your community that need your support. If you’re sending employees care packages and gifts, make the extra effort to source them from underrepresented local businesses. It’s not hard to do — there are organizations that can help you connect to such companies around the United States, such as Women Owned’s business directory and Help Main Street.

Large companies can work with Hello Alice to directly fund smaller companies founded by every underrepresented group in the United States, from veterans to LGBTQ+. IFundWomen is a large network of women-founded businesses you can choose to fund — or join — and it has a wing specifically for businesses owned by women of color. As a business leader you can always be seeking out diverse founders to collaborate with; For example, check out this amazing list of Latinx founders catering to the United States’ enormous Latinx markets, as well as finding solutions to improve diversity in business.

The NAACP has fought for equal rights for people of color for over a century. You can support them and their ongoing work, which ranges from campaigning for crucial reforms to spotlighting emerging Black-owned businesses.

Now’s not the time to slack on diversity. As tempting as it might be to think of it as an accessory, it’s just as vital now for your business to get through the pandemic and to stop your entire industry from losing decades of hard-earned progress in building a more equal society.

Tech’s Hidden Diversity Problem: Executive Headhunters

alex cole

Executive search firm True often gets the call when hot tech companies seek to fill key jobs. The New Jersey–based outfit has grown as quickly as some of its startup clients, having hired 350 employees across several continents since its founding eight years ago.

True resembles its tech industry clients in another way: Just one of the firm’s nearly 70 partners is Black. Other prominent tech headhunting firms are similarly lacking in diversity within their upper ranks, a gap that tech professionals and recruiters said likely contributes to the underrepresentation of Black and Latino executives throughout Silicon Valley.

“We have fallen into the same trap [as our clients],” True co-CEO Brad Stadler said in an interview. True said its top priority for its own internal recruiting team is to boost the number of partners who are Black or Latino.

THE TAKEAWAY
The recruiting firms who play a significant role in spotting candidates for top jobs in the tech industry themselves lack diversity in their upper ranks, contributing to Silicon Valley’s overall diversity issues.

Executive recruiters often hold the keys to top jobs in Silicon Valley. Partners at these firms leverage their networks to come up with slates of potential chief marketing officers, finance executives and engineering chiefs for startups. Yet the searches lead only infrequently to the hiring of Blacks and Latinos, making it more difficult for nonwhite executives to gain access to the upper echelons of the tech industry.

There are few Black partners at other startup recruitment firms, including SPMB, Daversa Partners and Riviera Partners. Daversa Partners declined to comment. Riviera Partners declined an interview request. SPMB didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Tech’s diversity issues extend beyond the racial and ethnic makeup of recruiters. Black and Latino professionals in the search industry said hiring managers tend to gravitate toward candidates who attended elite schools or worked at name-brand companies, and as a result they overlook other talented prospects. And for underrepresented minorities who do get hired, they said, companies need to invest more in leadership and mentorship programs for these employees to boost retention.

But the lack of diversity among search professionals can affect which candidates get called for important jobs, particularly among startups, said Dan Portillo, a former talent partner at the venture capital firm Greylock.

“[The search process] is all done via network—knowing who you know, knowing who you know over multiple years, having access to people with successful careers,” said Portillo, who is Latino and now serves as a managing partner at VC firm Sweat Equity Ventures. “Until you figure out how to get that out of the way of running searches, this problem will persist.”

The tech industry doesn’t appear to have made significant progress in bringing more underrepresented minorities into top jobs.

An average of 2.7% of executives at 10 big tech firms, including Apple, Google and Uber, are Black, according to an analysis by The Information of 2018 federal filings by the companies. That’s slightly lower than the share of Black executives across the Fortune 500, and much lower than the percentage of U.S. computer science graduates who are Black.

Many of the tech sector’s most prominent startups don’t release diversity reports that detail the racial or ethnic makeups of their leadership. Two of the most valuable privately held startups, Airbnb and Stripe, have said publicly they aren’t diverse enough. At Airbnb, just one out of the 16 people on its executive team is nonwhite. Stripe doesn’t release diversity data, but CEO Patrick Collison wrote earlier this month that inside the company “the fraction of U.S. employees who are Black is substantially lower than that of the American population.”

The issue has come into focus in recent weeks, following the killing of George Floyd by a police officer and protests around the country. Companies have issued statements and donated money for racial justice causes. Executive recruiters said companies are already asking for more-diverse slates of candidates. Google, Facebook and Airbnb have said they would increase the number of executives who are underrepresented minorities in the coming years.

But it may be too little, too late, said Amy Vernetti, a former partner at True who also served in a senior recruiting role at Alphabet. She said startups and executive recruiters should have been building more diverse networks of candidates a decade ago.

“The startups are just as bad as the big companies, and the big companies are terrible,” said Vernetti. “Executive recruiters who authentically understand this issue—I don’t know if there are any.”

Some tech veterans emphasized that the makeup of recruiting businesses is one of many factors in the industry’s lack of diversity. Marinda Thomas, a former executive recruiter at Facebook, said younger firms often don’t nurture or coach junior managers who are underrepresented minorities.

In addition, she noted, the tech industry’s leadership roles are often based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the share of residents who are Black has declined in recent decades. The growing openness to hiring workers remotely could help attract more underrepresented minorities, Thomas said. Google said last week that it would look to hire more senior executives in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and London, where it already has offices, to attract more-diverse candidates.

Thomas now works on searches for digital publishing firm Issuu, where she said she is the only Black employee. She attended Howard University, which she said means her personal and professional network is likely more diverse than that of other recruiters.

“I have more conversations now with CEOs or heads of HR that put diversity on the table—the need and desire for it. That wasn’t a conversation I had in 2010 with the same people,” said Thomas, who also worked at search firm Riviera Partners. “People are still grappling with how to get there.”

Successful executive searches can be lucrative. Search partners often are paid a fee equal to one-third of the executive’s first-year salary. True, which is privately held and works almost entirely with tech firms, pulled in $91 million in revenue last year, up 36% from the previous year, according to industry publication Hunt Scanlon.

Alex Cole, director of talent at private equity firm VMG Partners, used to work as a senior associate at True. Cole, who is Black, said the search industry hasn’t built a diverse workforce in part because relatively few people know about these careers. “Quite frankly, so many people are taught to be doctors, lawyers, but nobody hears about executive search,” she said.

Stadler outlined True’s plans to increase diversity. One step the firm is taking is to launch a platform next month, called Above Board, where underrepresented leaders will be able to share personal demographic data and see available executive positions.

Lucinda Duncalfe, a longtime software executive who will run Above Board, said it was clear to her that search firms have diversity problems. “We can’t look to organizations that are less diverse than the tech firms to solve the tech diversity problem.”

Wall Street is under pressure over its lack of diversity

wall street diversity lack

A global corporate reckoning that began in the United States after the killing of George Floyd has prompted industries long dominated by White males, such as the financial sector, to rethink diversity.

George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Floyd was arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill. His death ignited worldwide protests aimed at addressing racial injustice and inequality.  

Wall Street has long been an industry dominated by White males. At Goldman Sachs, just 2.7 percent of executives, senior officials and managers are Black. At Citi, 2 percent of executives and senior managers are Black.

Closing the racial wealth gap

While companies and banks cannot single-handedly solve the systemic and historic racism that has existed in the United States since its founding, an effort is being made to try and give Black Americans a better chance at economic equality.

In addition to the obvious benefit closing the racial wealth gap would mean for affected communities, a 2019 McKinsey report projected doing so could net the U.S. economy between $1.1 trillion and $1.5 trillion by 2028.

“Public companies and private companies have to focus on ‘how can you show your corporate purpose,’ not just to your employees and your clients, but in every society you work,” BlackRock CEO Larry Fink told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble in a World Government Summit panel last week. He added that “purposeful” companies are going to have better long term profitability.

BlackRock has promised 30 percent more Black employees at the firm by 2024. As CEO of the world’s largest asset manager, Fink oversees more than $6 trillion and hires 16,000 people across the globe, only 5 percent of which are Black. Global Infrastructure Partners Chairman Adebayo Ogunlesi told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble that thanks to “prodding” from CEOs like Fink, business is recognizing that it has a leadership role to play in society in areas like economic and racial injustice.

Wall Street wakes up

Under pressure, banks have taken steps to do more to fight racism. Many CEOs released statements and spoke out about the killing of George Floyd, recognizing the deep divisions America faces when it comes to race.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon released a statement recognizing the “reality” of police brutality, and “coupled with the COVID crisis, highlights the inequities black and other diverse communities have and continue to face every day,” vowing to do more as a firm.

Wells Fargo pledged to double Black leadership over the next 5 years at the bank. According to a memo, only 6 percent of the San Francisco-based bank’s senior leaders are Black.

Bank of America announced a $1 billion, four-year commitment of additional support to help local communities address economic and racial inequality accelerated by Covid-19.

The gender gap

Wall Street doesn’t struggle only with racial diversity. Women are significantly underrepresented in the financial services industry.

Francesca McDonagh, the CEO of the Bank of Ireland, told CNBC the banking sector is “notoriously non-representative” of women.

“There are very few female CEOs of systemically important banks,” she said. “When I look around at opportunities to promote women, I always look hard and fast, but there is a shortage at the senior level.”

Here are tech companies’ plans for increasing diversity amid protests over racial inequality

tech diversity plans

Netflix, Google, Facebook and Microsoft among the big names promising money and targeting specific goals for increasing hiring of black tech workers

Sparked by social protests over systemic racism, the tech industry is laying out concrete plans to increase diversity within their workforces. Here are the plans that have been publicly announced recently by some of the biggest names in technology.

• Netflix Inc. NFLX, 0.31% said it plans to put 2% of its cash holdings, or up to $100 million initially, toward financial institutions and other groups “that directly support Black communities in the U.S.”

• Microsoft Corp. MSFT, -0.66% Chief Executive Satya Nadella, in an email to employees posted on Microsoft’s corporate blog, said the software giant is adding $150 million to its diversity and inclusion investment, and will “double the number of Black and African American people managers, senior individual contributors, and senior leaders in the United States by 2025.”

Read: After years of talk, tech companies appear to be getting serious about diversity efforts

• In a wide-ranging interview with CBS before the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple AAPL, 0.45% CEO Tim Cook spoke about the role smartphone cameras play in revealing systemic racism. He further highlighted the conversation at the start of his keynote speech, touching on racial justice, equality, and COVID-19. “We’re committed to being a force for change,” said Cook, who earlier this month pledged to donate $100 million to organizations furthering racial equity and justice. The company has also announced a new developer entrepreneur camp for black developers.

See also: CEO Cook on Apple’s role in tackling inequality: ‘I do believe, optimistically, this is one of those moments that we could make significant progress’

• Google parent Alphabet Inc. GOOGL, 0.08% GOOG, 0.07% vowed to increase the proportion of “leadership representation of underrepresented groups” overall by 30% at the company by 2025, according to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai. Additionally, Alphabet will provide $175 million in a mix of financing and funding to related businesses.

“Listening to the personal accounts of members of our Black Advisory Leadership Group and our Black+ Googlers has only reinforced for me the reality our Black communities face: One where systemic racism permeates every aspect of life, from interactions with law enforcement, to access to housing and capital, to health care, education, and the workplace,” Pichai wrote in a memo.

• Facebook Inc. FB, 0.81% Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg announced in a blog post that the company has committed to a 30% increase in the number of people of color in leadership positions over the next five years, and will devote $200 million to support black-owned businesses and organizations — part of a $1.1 billion investment in black and diverse suppliers and communities in the U.S.

• SAP SE SAP, -1.05% issued a pledge to “double the representation of African-American talent in the U.S. over the next three years.” Additionally, it introduced a new marketing program, “Spotlight Black Businesses,” to assist small, black-owned businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 and protests caused by social unrest.

• In a May Corporate Responsibility Report, Intel Corp. INTC, -0.84% released diversity goals of increasing the number of women in technical roles to 40% and doubling the number of women and underrepresented minorities in senior roles by 2030. In early 2015, then-CEO Brian Krzanich pledged $300 million toward diversity efforts and set 2020 as a deadline to reach “full representation” in hiring. The company said that it actually achieved that goal in 2018.

• Kicking off Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co.’s HPE, 0.14% Discover Virtual Experience conference, CEO Antonio Neri acknowledged the need to do more — recent actions include formation of a global inclusion and diversity council chaired by him to oversee the development of a detailed plan.

“I challenge you to join me to use this moment to take a stand, to speak up on inclusion and to advocate for equity,” Neri said. “We have to do better as a society. And, together, we can make a difference and be a force for good.”

• Mozilla Corp. said it intends to double the percentage of black and Latinx representation of its 1,000-person U.S. staff. It also wants to increase black representation in the U.S. to 6% at the director level and up, as well as representation on Mozilla and Mozilla Foundation boards.

“This is a starting point for what Mozilla should look like, not an aspirational end point, and it applies to all levels of the organization,” Mark Surman, executive director of the Mozilla Foundation, told MarketWatch. “There is no question events of the past few weeks have underlined the need to focus more on racial justice. The collective push of the tech industry is promising and important, but we need to make sure we are collectively held accountable on moving the ball.”

• Two weeks ago, Reddit named Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel, who is black, to its board of directors after Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian stepped down and asked to be replaced by a black candidate.

Embracing a Remote Workforce Can be a Catalyst for Diversity

remote workplace

Civil unrest, systemic racial injustice, political turbulence, and a global pandemic has dramatically altered the way we live, work, socialize, connect, and move about the world. The disparity is mind-bending, and suddenly, unexpectedly, life has upended. And as the prevalence of COVID-19 continues to intensify, the vast majority of companies have embraced long-term remote operations.

They’re throwing away their playbooks, relearning schedules, defining work differently, and collaborating in new ways. Many leaders are discovering that working remotely can help their companies be more agile and even more productive. But there’s another way remote work can be a force for good that doesn’t get enough attention: It can widen our talent pools to be more inclusive and introduce much-needed diversity into our workforce. Now more than ever, it’s imperative to acknowledge and prioritize being present, taking accountability, and doing what we can to make a powerful stand – for equality and the greater good of humanity.

The shadow talent pool

There’s a shadow talent pool out there, a population of motivated, skilled, hard-working individuals for whom the job market is out of reach simply because of circumstances beyond their control—geography, a medical condition, or a spouse’s military job, for example. These individuals have the desire to work, but they lack the means to get to an office each day. By pivoting to a remote work model, you’re essentially opening your workplace to an untapped resource and giving yourself the advantage of hiring based on merit, tenacity, and skill instead of proximity.

Before the pandemic took hold and all non-essential travel was put on pause, my company hosted regular meetups for our employees throughout the U.S., the U.K., and India. These informal get-togethers gave hundreds of remote workers the chance to meet each other in real life, outside of company chat rooms.

I attended many of these gatherings to share company updates and news, hear concerns, and answer the questions that tend to crop up in a distributed work model. Invariably, I’d have someone walk up to me during lunch or a networking session. Sometimes they’d have tears in their eyes, sometimes merely a warm smile. Their message was almost always the same: They wanted to express how being able to work anywhere had changed their lives.

I’ve heard stories from stay-at-home moms who were reluctant or unable to place their children in daycare to get back into the job market. I’ve heard from military spouses who couldn’t hold a steady job due to frequent moves. I’ve listened to caretakers who needed extra income but couldn’t leave a disabled person home alone. They all came bearing a message of gratitude that they could finally put their skills to use.

Reap the benefits of a diverse workforce

I want to make it very clear: This isn’t some charitable way of giving back to your community. You are going to benefit from hiring them. Pulling from this shadow talent pool, rather than limiting new hires to people within commuting distance, allows you:

  • Access unique skills and experience. Stay-at-home moms re-entering the workforce are some of my best employees. A mom accustomed to managing a household spends her day prioritizing tasks, juggling multiple schedules, settling conflicts, and maximizing her time. Many stay-at-home moms are well-educated women who stepped away from lucrative careers to raise children, but they’re half as likely to get a call-back for a job interview than other candidates. With women-led companies yielding triple the returns of S&P 500 companies, it’s time to examine our misconceptions.

    Military families are another overlooked demographic. I can’t count the number of military spouses who’ve told me that they put their careers second to their partner’s. Statistically, these individuals hold a higher education than their peers yet are chronically underemployed. Working for a company that offers flexible schedules and steady employment has given our employees who are military spouses their power and independence back—and that doesn’t change even if they have to relocate again.

  • Add diversity to your workforce. A wide array of perspectives is essential for innovation and creativity. Expanding your potential job candidates to include remote employees could empower an underrepresented group of people while providing better insights into the needs of your diverse customer base.

    Remote work is a natural equalizer. Remember, diversity doesn’t stop at the hiring process. Having a diverse and inclusive workplace means creating a work environment where all voices and opinions are given equal weight. In a remote workplace, where the quality of work trumps time logged in a cubicle, workers are evaluated on what they produce, leaving no room for bias, intentional or otherwise.

  • Overcome your geographical limitations. My company’s main headquarters is located in Portland, Oregon. It’s an expensive city in which to live. In fact, there’s a growing migration to the suburbs as people grow hip to the fact that location isn’t everything. People want affordable homes, and they want to stay closer to their families and hometowns. You’ll see this echoed in other tech-heavy cities, like Seattle or San Francisco. The talent pools in major cities are shrinking, and if you don’t take steps to expand that talent pool, you’re not going to stay competitive. When we were located in an office building, we had a hard time maintaining the staff needed to provide Spanish-language coverage 24/7/365. Once we started to recruit from Texas, everything changed. Not only were we immediately able to fulfill our robust Spanish and bilingual coverage needs, but we also increased our Latinx population at work.

Remote companies are set up to be more diverse, inclusive, and equitable than traditional co-located offices because of their model. When a company can recruit, hire, and retain the best talent—not the closest—the talent pool is limitless. My company employs hundreds of remote employees who include stay-at-home moms, military spouses, people in rural communities, and people whose health issues keep them from commuting. We’re growing every year, and our customer feedback is overwhelmingly positive. I’m proud of my team; open up your remote workforce, and I guarantee you will be too.

Anthony Mackie Says Marvel Movies Need to Do Better About Diversity

Anthony Mackie has played Falcon seven times in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, starting with 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” In an interview for Variety‘s Actors on Actors issue, Mackie talked to Daveed Diggs about the need for more diversity in Disney’s Marvel movies.

The conversation started out with both actors talking about their most recent projects on TV. Diggs is the star of the TNT drama “Snowpiercer.” Mackie appeared in two Netflix TV shows in the last year: The second season of the sci-fi series “Altered Carbon” and in a stand-alone episode of “Black Mirror,” called “Striking Vipers.”

“What are the ways that you find yourself interacting with the moment?” Diggs asked Mackie about Black Lives Matter. “I find a lot of my interactions are just trying to make things better in the gigs I have in front of me — how can I affect different kinds of representation? What is the thing you feel compelled to do? What is your participation in this moment?”

Mackie responded by mentioning the new Marvel TV series for Disney Plus that he’s starring in. “When ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ comes out, I’m the lead,” Mackie said. “When ‘Snowpiercer’ came out, you’re the lead. We have the power and the ability to ask those questions. It really bothered me that I’ve done seven Marvel movies where every producer, every director, every stunt person, every costume designer, every PA, every single person has been white.”

“We’ve had one Black producer; his name was Nate Moore,” Mackie continued. “He produced ‘Black Panther.’ But then when you do ‘Black Panther,’ you have a Black director, Black producer, a Black costume designer, a Black stunt choreographer. And I’m like, that’s more racist than anything else. Because if you only can hire the Black people for the Black movie, are you saying they’re not good enough when you have a mostly white cast?”

Mackie spoke about what changes he’d like to see in hiring practices. “My big push with Marvel is hire the best person for the job,” Mackie said. “Even if it means we’re going to get the best two women, we’re going to get the best two men. Fine. I’m cool with those numbers for the next 10 years. Because it starts to build a new generation of people who can put something on their résumé to get them other jobs. If we’ve got to divvy out as a percentage, divvy it out. And that’s something as leading men that we can go in and push for.”

 

Beta CareerTown App Now Available on Android Mobile Devices

career town on google play

The beta version of the Career Town app has now been published and is distributed on Android mobile devices.
If you have an Android mobile device, please download the new mobile version of the Career Town virtual career fair app.
Just go to Play Store on your Android device and search “CareerTown” and the app should show allowing you to download.
This “beta version”  of the mobile application has different functionalities from the desktop version of Career Town with only a few virtual events available as we gradually test roll this out.

From Apple to Facebook, Tech’s New Diversity Pledges Follow Years of Failure

tech diversity pledge

Big U.S. tech companies have not hired many Black employees, especially in technical and leadership roles.

Spurred by nationwide protests and calls to end systemic racism after the police killing of George Floyd, Google, Microsoft Corp. and Facebook Inc. recently vowed to increase the diversity of their workforce. If this sounds depressingly familiar, that’s because it is. The industry has been making similar pledges for years, with little progress.

The world’s most valuable tech companies are still predominantly white and male, according to a Bloomberg News analysis of diversity reports published by Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. Photos of Black workers feature prominently in these reports but remain mostly absent from management ranks and are underrepresented in technical roles. Photos of leadership ranks pictured here are based on named executive officers listed in the companies’ latest annual proxy statements.

Big Tech's Diversity Push Makes Very Slow Progress

If tech companies really want to increase representation, they must do more, Black employees and corporate diversity experts say. That means hiring diverse talent into higher levels of management and creating a workplace that is inclusive enough to retain people of color after they join, said Tina Shah Paikeday, an executive at consulting firm Russell Reynolds Associates who helps companies hire executives to run diversity and inclusion programs.

“Tech values the notion that innovation comes from a diverse perspective, but it’s been more of an academic thought,” she said.

There's a Lot of Room at the Top for Black People

Apple

Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook launched a $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative earlier this month. “To create change, we have to reexamine our own views and actions in light of a pain that is deeply felt but too often ignored,” Cook wrote in a letter to employees.

V2 Tech Diversity Apple
Apple’s leadership team: Tim Cook, from left, Kate Adams, Angela Ahrendts (left Apple last year), Luca Maestri, Deirdre O’Brien, and Jeff Williams
Source: Bloomberg (3); Getty Images (2); Apple (1)

The percentage of Black employees in technical roles at Apple in the U.S. remained unchanged in 2018 from 2014 at 6%, according to the company’s most recent diversity report. Apple is the only tech company among the big five not to release 2019 diversity figures yet. Half of Apple’s overall U.S. workforce was White, while Asian and Hispanic employees made up 23% and 14% of total employees, respectively. Black workers were 9% of the total. Last week, Apple’s chief of diversity and inclusion, Christie Smith, left the company.

Message From the Top

Google

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said last week that the company will improve Black representation at senior levels and increase leadership representation of all underrepresented groups by 30% by 2025. He committed to post all jobs externally and ramp up investment in cities outside the Bay Area, while creating a talent liaison within each product and functional area to retain workers from underrepresented groups.

Tech Diversity Alphabet
Google’s leadership team: Sundar Pichai, from left, Ruth Porat, David Drummond, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin. (Drummond retired from Alphabet earlier this year. Page and Brin also stepped down from executive roles last year).
Source: Bloomberg (4); Getty Images (1)

Just 2.4% of tech employees at the company were Black in the U.S., according to Google’s latest data, up from 1.5% six years earlier. Statistics on the company’s total workforce paint a similar picture. David Drummond, a veteran Black executive, retired from Google parent Alphabet Inc. earlier this year.

Google Is Becoming Less White, But Not Much More Black

Amazon

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took to Instagram this month to defend Amazon’s decision to place a Black Lives Matter banner on the company’s homepage. He also pledged $10 million for racial and social justice organizations. “We stand in solidarity with our Black employees, customers, and partners, and are committed to helping build a country and a world where everyone can live with dignity and free from fear,” the e-commerce company said in a blog post.

V2 Tech Diversity Amazon
Amazon’s leadership team: Jeff Bezos, from left, Jeffrey Blackburn, Brian Olsavsky, Andrew Jassy, Jeffrey Wilke
Source: Bloomberg (3); Getty Images (1); Amazon (1)

Just 8% of Amazon’s U.S. managers were Black last year, while 59% were White, according to the company. Unlike its big tech rivals, Amazon includes all managers in its leadership diversity data.

Management Moves

Facebook

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company would give $10 million to social justice organizations in a June 1 post. “The violence Black people in America live with today is part of a long history of racism and injustice,” he said. “I know that $10 million can’t fix this. It needs sustained, long term effort.” Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg also said the company would pledge $200 million for Black-owned businesses and committed to have 30% more Black people in Facebook leadership positions by 2025.

V2 Tech Diversity Facebook
Facebook’s leadership team: Mark Zuckerberg, from left, Sheryl Sandberg, David Wehner, Jennifer Newstead, and Mike Schroepfer
Source: Bloomberg (4); Facebook (1)

Just 1.5% of Facebook employees in technical roles in the U.S. were Black in 2019, up from 1% in 2014, according to the social media company’s diversity report. Among senior leadership, 3.1% is Black.

Facebook's Technical Makeup Has Changed

Microsoft

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella pledged to double the number of Black employees in senior and leadership positions by 2025, in an email sent to employees Tuesday and posted publicly. He also said the company will add $150 million to its diversity and inclusion investment. “Seeing injustice in the world calls us all to take action, as individuals and as a company,” he said in an earlier blog post. “We cannot episodically wake up when a new tragedy occurs. A systemic problem requires a holistic response.”

V2 Tech Diversity Microsoft
Microsoft’s leadership team: Satya Nadella, from left, Jean-Philippe Courtois, Amy Hood, Peggy Johnson, and Brad Smith
Source: Bloomberg (5)

According to Microsoft’s 2019 diversity report, 3.3% of its tech employees were Black in the U.S., up from 2.4% in 2016. More than 70% of its overall workforce was male, down slightly from 2016.

Not Even a Percentage Point of Progress

 

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