Tech diversity: Not just gender and race
The lack of gender or racial diversity in the tech industry is a well known issue and there are already a number of people and organizations making efforts to combat it . It is a movement that is quickly gaining some momentum.
However. the efforts to bring more diversity to the industry go further. Tech Inclusion 2015 is one of the first conferences in Silicon Valley focused on diversity and inclusion for people of all ages, races, genders, sexualities or other kinds of backgrounds. Others such as AlterConf and Push Tech 2020 have also been held previously. 350 people and 120-plus speakers attended the event, including people from major tech companies such as Facebook Inc., Google Inc., Pinterest, Twitter Inc. and Yelp Inc.
According to Wayne Sutton, general partner at a preaccelerator for startups based in San Francisco and one of its organizers:
“We put a lot of thought into every single aspect of diversity that we included, so not just color, not just gender, but we look at veterans, mental disability, we look at age, we look at LGBT and, of course, African-Americans and Latinos.”
The tech industry started to address diversity in 2014 when several Silicon Valley companies released diversity reports for first time. One year later, in 2015, many of these firms showed a lack of progress. According with Melinda Briana Epler, who is CEO and founder of Change Catalyst and the another conference organizer, the fact that Tech Inclusion sold out is another “positive sign that industry is taking diversity seriously.” Epler said she thinks 2015’s disappointing figures have actually boosted more people to get involve in the movement:
“The numbers are still pretty grim, and people are realizing that it’s going to take hard work and take time to really shift those numbers.”
A lot of people went to the conference “to learn how to do that” said Epler.
The event covered a variety of topics of importance for minorities in tech. It included a panel featuring the heads of diversity at major tech firms and sessions on how businesses can establish best practices for inclusion.