Some of Silicon Valley’s leading diversity advocates, including former Reddit interim CEO Ellen Pao and Kapor Capital partner Freada Kapor Klein, have formed Project Include to tackle the tech industry’s lack of diversity and ensure the momentum of change isn’t lost as tech budgets tighten.
As well as Pao and Kapor Klein, the founders of Project Include consist of Slack engineer Erica Baker, ReadySet founder Y-Vonne Hutchinson, angel investor Susan Wu, Cathy Labs CEO Bethanye McKinney Blount, Pinterest software engineer Tracy Chou and Atipica CEO Laura I. Gómez.
Project Include is a group effort aimed at accelerating diversity and inclusion solutions in the tech industry.
It aims to identify the tools and processes to enable companies to build better teams and ubetter companies.
“We convened as a group of tech women to strategise and try to move diversity forward by having hard conversations and redirecting efforts. In the future, we’d like to look back at this period as a turning point,” Pao said in a post on Medium.
‘We want the girls, people of colour, and other underrepresented groups that we are encouraging to pursue STEM educations and future tech jobs to have real opportunities to succeed’
– ELLEN PAO, PROJECT INCLUDE
Project Include cited research that revealed how bias results in discrimination in educating, hiring and funding women of colour in technology, and it also pointed to tech company data that showed an extreme lack of diversity.
It pointed to research from McKinsey, which showed that companies with more diverse workforces perform better: gender-diverse companies are 15pc more likely to outperform other companies, while ethnically-diverse companies are 35pc more likely to outperform other companies.
Culture of bias is built into tech powerhouse companies
Project Include pointed out that powerhouse companies in tech have bias built into their way of doing things and this is obvious in their tendency to recruit based on school pedigrees, for example.
“Recently, we as a group have also become concerned about the impact of belt-tightening at tech companies,” Project Include said.
“Budget cuts can shrink diversity initiatives, while layoffs and attrition can disproportionately affect women and underrepresented people of colour, and achieving diversity is harder when companies aren’t hiring.
“We want the girls, people of colour, and other underrepresented groups that we are encouraging to pursue STEM educations and future tech jobs to have real opportunities to succeed.”
To bolster change, Project Include said it is focusing its efforts on CEOs and management of early to mid-stage tech start-ups where it believes change is most possible.
The purpose of the initiative is to provide CEOs and managers in these companies with the resources they need to make diversity a priority.
Diversity image via Shutterstock