This is serious. A recent report estimated that the median black and Latino family net worth will be zero ($0.00) by 2053. Did you hear me? ZERO. NADA. (Source) While things that contribute to this grim report may be outside of the control of minorities, some things are. There are two (2) things I believe that will either contribute (or not) to this statistic. One is the ability of minorities & women to obtain access to capital to grow their business and create generational wealth. The second is the ability of minorities & women to fully integrate into every aspect of technology as an evolving and innovative industry. Again, this is serious.
Doing, Not Just Saying
Many of you know I have long been an advocate for minorities, particularly African Americans and women, getting access to capital and in diversifying the technology industry. Most business owners will tell you that access to capital is still the no. 1 struggle of starting or growing a business. That’s why in 2016, I started my non-profit Minority Access to Capital, Inc. (“MATC”) with the goal of educating, empowering and exposing minorities and minorities about how to access capital to grow their business and create generational wealth. As I started to integrate myself into my new role as founder of this organization coupled with my corporate law practice on raising money for tech companies, I soon begin to discover two things: (1) There is a lack of access to adequate funding to minorities and women and (2) there is a lack of diversity in all stages of the technology infrastructure.
The following year in 2017, I made the decision to wean myself from the practice of corporate law into the diversity consulting field. That’s when I started Kendrick Advisory & Advocacy Group, LLC (“KAAG”) with a focus on diversity consulting in tech and policy, 2 fields that I am intimately acquainted with and have a passion to see more diverse. You will hear more from me and MATC at the upcoming July 26th event we are planning with some other partners. But here is some background information in preparation for this event that I hope will intrigue you and spur you to action!
“Shocking” Facts & “Easy” Solutions
Here are some facts and resources about access to capital for minorities and diversity in tech:
- Denying access to capital [to minorities] has a negative impact on our economy. (Source)
- Minority owned firms are much less likely to be approved for small business loans than white owned firms. (Source)
- Almost 70% of Google employees are male. (Source)
- White men dominate computer science departments by a lot. (Source)
- A report found that African Americans only represent 9% of the STEM workforce. (Source)
Do these facts surprise you? I assure you there many, MANY more facts like these that may surprise you about access to capital for minorities and diversity in the technology space. But I am never one to complain without offering solutions so here are my 5 steps you can take towards diversity in tech and access to capital for minorities.
My 5 steps for tackling the diversity in tech & access to capital problem:
- STEP 1: Admit that there is a problem. As anyone who has went through any accountability process will tell you, admission is the first step. So, admitting there is a lack of diversity in tech and there are still problems with access to capital for minorities is the very first and most fundamental step. “There can be no solution where one does not admit there is a problem.” – Anon. If the above sources didn’t convince you there is a problem, I encourage you to take at this latest report by the Minority Business Development Agency (See Report) and article by Forbes this year (See article) on these issues. If these sources don’t convince you, nothing will.
- STEP 2: Self-reflect. We all know that sometimes it is easier to point to an organization or company and accuse them of not being diverse or not offering opportunities. But how many times have we stopped at looked at our own biases and organization? It’s a great starting point to reflect on your own environment after admitting that there is a problem. If your organization doesn’t look like your customer base or potential customer base, you may have a problem. If you find yourself hiring people that look and think and work like you, you may have a problem. If you only offer opportunities, no matter how unintentional, to those that look the same, you may have a problem. As in anything, it’s important to look at yourself before trying to influence others in the same area.
- STEP 3: Follow the data. It’s that simple. I am not asking you to give unprecedented, unwarranted special treatment to women and minorities to create diverse work spaces in tech or to supply minorities and women with vital access to capital they need to start or growth their business. I am telling you what data has already proven—and that is minority businesses are growing, women are outperforming men, there is a need for more women in tech and blacks have been some of the BEST contributors to tech. Take a look for yourself in the following articles: Black Women Are the Fastest Growing Group of Female Entrepreneurs, 5 Reasons Why Women Entrepreneurs Are Better Than Men, Invest in Black entrepreneurs because its good business, not out of social obligation ,Why We Need More Women in Tech, The 25 Most Important Black Tech Pioneers. How that you have the data, what will you do with it?
- STEP 4: Ask the Question “Why”? I am sure this is a loaded question, but you must ask yourself why. Why is there is a disconnect between the data that supports diversity in tech and minorities getting access to capital and making these things a reality? And don’t be afraid to be honest—some behaviors are unintentional, while others are. Some behavior is direct while other behaviors have a disparate impact on minorities and women. Of course, there are many theories and opinions to answer this question but why do you think there is that disconnect? What can you do about it? Once you find your “why”, it’s easy to find your “How”. Try it.
- STEP 5: Join the conversation. The beginning of any cultural change and revolution is getting involved. It is of no use to identify a problem, go through the above analysis, and then sit on the sidelines. Advocating for diversity in tech and access to capital are no different. Conversations are being held around Georgia on diversity in technology and it’s up to each of us to JOIN the conversation—the ones having the right, productive and effective conversations that is. My non-profit, MATC, does just that. Find your place to have your voice heard then get involved. There is power in numbers—and the prospect of a ZERO median net worth is, indeed, a powerful number.
Here’s How You Join the Conversation.
Well, I am fortunate enough to serve on the board of the Technology Association of Georgia’s (“TAG”) Corporate Development board since 2017. Last year, TAG Corp. Dev. Society and MATC partnered together to host an event titled “Capital-Raising and Growth Strategies: Solutions for Women, Minority-owned and all companies” at the Georgia World Congress Center. It was attended by 80 or so entrepreneurs looking for capital raising and growth strategies for their business.
The event was so successful and helpful last year, we are doing it again! I hope you get your ticket TODAY before we sell out! We are partnering with TAG Corp. Dev. and TAG Diversity (another TAG society) to bring you an exclusive and new event! Proceeds from MATC sells go to educate and empower minority businesses about how to access capital to grow their business and create generational wealth. I hope you will support!
If you need more information about the event like speakers, agenda, sponsorship opportunities, etc., please visit the KAAG webpage as the planner for this event. You don’t want to miss our GREAT line up of speakers who will discuss “Diversity in Tech” in Georgia through NGOs, non-profits, governmental entities and corporations in Panel 1 and “Capital Raising Concepts” in Panel 2. Breakfast is included, and networking is expected.
Panel No. 1- Barriers & Breakthroughs: Diversity in Tech (Click on name for bio and pic)
o Julie R. Ancis, Ph.D, Associate VP, Office of Diversity at GA Tech, Moderator
o Joe Robertson, Business Advisor for Minority Business Development Agency Business Center—Atlanta –
o Danielle McPherson, President of Women in Tech
o James Truitt, Senior Engineer with Microsoft & Tech Evangelist
o Ryan Wilson, Founder of The Gathering Spot
o Jen Bonnett, Former General Manager of the Advanced Technology Development Center
Panel No. 2- All panelist pics and bios can be found here.
- Syed, moderator
- Louise Wasilewski – CEO, Acivilate
- Allyson Eman – Executive Director, Venture Atlanta
- Sammy Courtright – Co-Founder & COO, Fitspot
- Duriya Farooqui – Executive Director, Atlanta Committee for Progress
- Phyllis Newhouse – CEO, Xtreme Solutions Inc
- Tim Cobb – Managing General Partner, Tandaver
I hope to see you there so make sure you register today and share!
Dar’Shun Kendrick is Chief Diversity Activist and Consultant of Kendrick Advisory & Advocacy Group, LLC. They curate and execute customized initiatives, programs and events for organizations to meet their specific diversity & inclusion objectives. Visit them online to request Dar’Shun as a speaker, set up a time to chat about your diversity goals or view upcoming events. Their signature program is the GA P.A.T.H. Program for minorities and women interested in careers in lobbying and their signature event is the GA Blacks in Tech Policy Conference.
Dar’Shun practiced private securities law for over a decade before this transition to more meaningful work. She was featured in the Huffington Post as 1 of 25 People Poised to Scale Atlanta’s Growing Technology Start Up Ecosystem for Black Americans and Beyond.
She has been elected to the Georgia House of Representatives since 2010, serving over 54,000 Georgians in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties under the Georgia State Capitol each year.