Sunday, January 29, 2023

Black & Brown Horizons: Tech Diversity & Growth in the 2020s

The prison industrial complex, and entertainment, all of which are still polluted with undertones of skin color, Black and Brown males have caught up in many areas outside of team ownership and record labels. Black and Brown males make up over 15% of the American population. The STEM & Tech community is poised for Black and Brown dimensions of growth heading into the middle years of the 3rd decade of the 21st century, this millennium. 90% of the angel funding goes to European-American/Caucasian men, while this demographic makes up 30% of the American population.

Silicon Valley is the land of opportunity, yet it can also be called Segregated Valley as it is like a late 19th-century HBCU campus. Blacks, Latinos/Hispanics, and other minority groups in Technology are at a premium.  African American and Latino-American workers are underrepresented in technology professions, which is nothing new. Today, African American employees comprise 13% of the workforce but only 4% of the major tech employment sector. Latino workers make up 17% of the workforce; they hold just 8% of STEM-related jobs. The biggest tech companies report a similar gap. Latinx employees hold just about 8% of jobs in high technology industries, but 18% of the overall population in 2021 was Latinx, according to Forbes Magazine’s ‘Race In Tech, Part One: Inside The Numbers, November 2020 edition. Sociologists, historians, and other experts have asked why we think that racial diversity and discrimination in the U.S. STEM workforce would be any different in the tech sector. Conversations about these cultural-to-corporate deficiencies provide an optimal look into the future. Due to the tech booms of the last 20 years, not even racism, bigotry, or just ignorance can marinate, but for so long as Black and Brown communities are behind, a horizon of hope awaits.

Black Boys Code is a national organization with 11 chapters across Canada and one in the United States. Other programs are Blacks in Technology, Genius Projects for students, Hidden Genius Project, Jason Kelley (IBM), Momar Mattocks (CFAN), Robert F. Smith (Vista Equity Partners), Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Kathryn Finney (DID), Stacy Spikes ( (MoviePass), Jessie Woolley-Wilson (DreamBox Learning), Julia Collins (Zume Pizza), Tyrone Ahmad-Taylor (FaceBook), Kimberly Bryant (Black Girls Code), Robert Corion (Napsch, TrafficCom), Rani Johnson (SolarWinds), Johnita Davis Jones (ExxonMobil Pipeline), Jim Ganthier (Customer Solutions Strategy & Advocacy, Dell Technologies), Ed Ward (Engineering, Client Product Group, Dell), Brian Reaves (Dell Technologies), Chris Young (McAfee, LLC.), Ime Archibong (Facebook), Jasmine Arielle (I-Subz), Alan Emtage, Kimberly Bryant,  & Dexter Henderson (IBM).

Scores of Black and Brown families, and their children, are only exposed to wifi, intelligent devices, clouds, or the internet only on school property. The impact of this Black & Brown tech revolution on the horizons in the mid-2020s and beyond is immense. It will expose Black and Brown youth to 21st-century schooling programs, hackathons, events, workshops, and summer STEM & STEAM camps. It is safe to say the reason African Americans and Latino/Hispanic Americans are still kept out of the tech advances is an issue of catching up. Data suggest that ‘nonphysical White Rage’ is a culprit or accomplice to the silence of Black high school graduates who lack the skill to send a word document by email organically.

This quiet storm is why technology companies hire few African American and Latinx workers.

The tech industry blames the recruitment pipeline, saying there aren’t enough Black & Brown college/university students graduating with relevant degrees and applying for STEM/Tech jobs.

In contrast, the data displays many more African American and Latinx learners majoring in STEM-relevant tech careers. So why the lack of employment opportunities for Black and Brown students?

It’s apparent that those who enter the candidate pipeline are dismissed during the process — and big tech companies’ culture and recruiting methods seem to have a lot to do with it.

The pipeline problem is not a rumor, fable, or tale but a reality. The reality is that stereotyping and missed promotions for unmerited reasons are key. African American and Latinx 21st-century learners have underrepresented in STEM-related areas to their share of the American population, while Asian-American students are overrepresented. According to the “Tech Leavers” study, nearly 8 in 10 employees who left tech jobs reported experiencing some form of unfair behavior or treatment, while 85% observed it. And 37% said they left their jobs because of it. Unfair behavior and treatment were the No. 1 reason for leaving and were twice as likely to be cited than being recruited for a better opportunity.

Other findings include:

  • according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, whites hold over 83% of executive-level positions in tech, while Blacks hold only 1.9 percent.
  • Nearly 35% of Black & Brown people experienced stereotyping, twice the rate of European American/Caucasian and Asian American men and women.
  • Nearly 35% of underrepresented Black & Brown women were passed over for promotion, more than any other group.

Motivating Black Boys to become Black men in the tech and STEM fields is not hard; they just need exposure and resources for more exposure. The more they are involved with clouds, i-conversations, iBooks, and the algorithms for iPhones, the more they can understand and formulate solutions to problems in their communities. Cracking the Code on the Tech Industry’s ethnic and gender diversity problem begins with honest and healthy conversations. To change this equation, we must review past calculations to learn and know what not to do. Some may call it CRT, and I call it a history lesson to avoid the practices of the past. No to point figures but to use principles of truth for the pixels of diversity on all levels.

In closing, Technology has one of the biggest roles in the overall cultural enhancements in the United States. As a country, America must be intentional about ethnic inclusion and gender equity as it was corporately and culturally about exclusion as we are better now. The digitization of America’s workforce should reflect the demographics in this great country in all sectors, including tech.

 

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