Cracking the code on diversity in tech is the greatest economic opportunity of our time.
why diversity in tech?
The year 2040 marks the start of the decade when people of color will be the majority in the United States. Blacks and Latinxs will make up nearly 40% of the US population. Yet the economic indicators for these communities are poor and have not shown much sign of improving. If we’re going to be a majority-minority country, we must figure out how to empower our communities of color.
- Blacks and Latinxs are currently being excluded from the innovation economy at alarming rates. While blacks and Latinxs earn nearly 18% of computer science bachelor’s degrees, they make up only around 5% of the technical workforce at top tech companies. Only 1% of venture backed tech companies have a black founder. The innovation economy is not recognizing and supporting black and Latinx talent.
- The average salary of a tech worker is more than the median household income of a black family and a Latinx family combined. The wealth gap in the US is stark. The average net worth of a white family is 15x that of a black or Latinx family. The tech sector’s high salaries and low unemployment provide an opportunity for black and Latinx communities to build generational wealth, making us stronger contributors to the economy as our numbers grow and allowing for a degree of self-determination hitherto unknown in communities of color.
- Black and Latinx communities are some of the most powerful cultural influencers in the US. Yet without access to the increasingly digital and technological tools for scaling and disseminating influence, these communities’ contributions are often appropriated or erased, further diminishing their economic, social, and political power.
Why the Innovation Economy?
The Innovation Economy is a broad term that includes the tech sector as well as the subset of organizations within other sectors whose reliance on and leveraging of technology to deliver products and/or services comprises a substantial portion of their business model. We are focusing on the Innovation Economy as a path to catalyze broader change because we believe it will be the vanguard for achieving racial equity across the economy as a whole:
- The Innovation Economy has a unique capacity to innovate around racial equity in the workplace. Due to its inherent capacity to innovate as well as its appreciation for experimentation, data-driven decisionmaking, and failing forward, the Innovation Economy embraces change more quickly than many other sectors. There is also an overall shortage of technical talent, creating a scenario where companies in the Innovation Economy are open to innovating in order to gain access to more tech talent.
- The Innovation Economy will eventually “eat the world,” thus spreading its practices. The Innovation Economy today is a subset of the broader economy, but by 2040, as technology continues to change the way be work and live, all industries will be driven or enabled by technology. Rather than being absorbed into existing ways of doing things, the Innovation Economy tends to disrupt, and this includes in policies and practices around talent. As a result, the changes that take place in the tech industry’s treatment of talent and pursuit of equity will naturally influence other industries’ policies and practices over time.
The Innovation Economy’s products, platforms, and services are architecting our new societal norms. The sector is rapidly infiltrating all aspects of our lives as citizens and consumers, and as it does it is architecting broad societal norms. Ensuring that Blacks and Latinxs are leaders and doers in this space is critical to ensuring that they are empowered and equipped to be not just consumers but creators, not just participants but architects, building an inclusive world that meets their motivations, desires, and needs.