Moving Beyond The Pipeline Discussion: African American Tech Talent Is Ready, Willing, & Able

WASHINGTON DC– December 7, 2015– last week, Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chairman, G. K. Butterfield (NC)and Rep. Barbara Lee (CA), Co-Chair of the CBC Diversity Task Force, announced that seven national African American tech professional organizations have adopted African American Inclusion Plans (AAIPs) designed to increase #techdiversity.

The presence of these organizations demonstrate that there are professionals, with science, technology, engineering, and math backgrounds, who have the experience and ability to thrive in not only entry level jobs, but also mid and senior level positions.

We do need to train more African Americans in the STEM fields. But, focusing too intently on the talent pipeline has been used by some companies to kick the can down the road and fail to develop innovative approaches to including African Americans.

— Congressman G. K. Butterfield, CBC Chairman

Tech companies must reduce the weight they put on job applicants being recommended by people who already work in the company. When companies give significant weight to a job applicant who knows someone in the company, that applicant has an advantage over a person who does not know anyone in the company. This practice of rewarding people who have connections in the company reinforces a lack of diversity since the current employees are not diverse.

Congressman Butterfield also outlined next steps for CBC TECH 2020 including:

  1. Focusing more intently on the African American representation within the government affairs offices of the tech companies that have plenty of available talent in the Washington DC.
  2. Traveling to additional tech hubs outside of Silicon Valley to meet with the leadership of tech companies. The other members of our task force will be organizing events in their respective districts to engage a broader group of stakeholders.
  3. Working with a broader section of tech companies including telecommunications companies, financial services tech, and biotechfirms.
  4. Highlighting the work of innovative tech companies that are setting clear goals, taking risks, and producing results.

Rep. Barbara Lee also spoke about the importance of including African Americans in tech beyond Silicon Valley in cities such as Oakland, CA, which is in her district.

When CBC launched the CBC TECH 2020 initiative in May, they committed to engaging all stakeholders, not just tech companies, in the effort to diversify the industry. One way that the CBC decided to formalize this engagement was by encouraging stakeholders to produce African American Inclusion Plans.

 

Elizabeth

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