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What words come to mind when you think of Silicon Valley? Technology, start-up, impact? How about liberal?
Silicon Valley has a strong reputation of promoting liberal values, of welcoming people of all stripes and backgrounds. The thinking goes that the more diverse your team, the more effective they’ll be at solving whatever problem lay in front of them. When people bring new ideas and frameworks on how to tackle a challenge, they’ll produce a more optimal solution. Various studies from the fields of management, public policy and psychology support this fact. So, you’d think that executives at technology firms would ensure that their firms strive for a diverse workforce, right?
WRONG! Believe it or not, Silicon Valley has a serious diversity issue. Within the general workforce of technology firms, women and minorities are significantly underrepresented. Among senior leadership roles, the disparity widens (LGBTQ folks fare no better here). So, given that diverse teams lead to better run companies, these Silicon Valley firms would prioritize diversity as a corporate goal, right?
WRONG again! According to Recode,
“A new study published Thursday by LinkedIn found the majority of techies in leadership positions aren’t creating initiatives to diversify their companies, and virtually none of them are making diversity a top priority.
LinkedIn found that 75 percent of venture capitalists have no idea if their firms have initiatives to increase diversity. Tech startup founders are even worse — 79 percent of founders and co-founders with startups with fewer than 200 employees said the same thing.”
What can be done to address this issue? For one, we have to get people to acknowledge it’s a serious issue. We have to educate them. Then we have to get them to spread the message.
About Out in Tech
That’s the goal of my organization, Out in Tech. Who are we? We’re a 501(c)3 non-profit, whose goal is to unite and invigorate the LGBTQ community. With the help of our 10,000 members (many of whom are free-lancers!) spread across the United States, we empower our community to improve our world by showcasing accomplished speakers, producing timely and thought-provoking events, and connecting our members to new opportunities and each other. Freelancers find our efforts particularly useful because they’re able to learn about the latest developments in the tech sector and related industries, while also immersing themselves in a community of like-minded individuals who could be their future client, co-worker, or something more 😉 We also provide resources and mentorship to ensure career access for the next generation of LGBTQ youth and provide web services to LGBTQ activists around the world.
What kinds of events do we host? They come in many forms, from panel discussions to professional networking to even (awkward) dance parties! One of our recent successes was our Digital Corps event. There, we had a group of 50+ volunteers come together and work with international LGBTQ non-profits. Our volunteers helped these non-profits to revamp their websites, craft a sharp message, and strategize on how to promote their causes. So cool!
Given the successes of these one-off events, we had a thought. How can we take these events to the next level? The answer: Out in Tech Talks!
Out in Tech Talks is our first-ever multi-day conference. The goals of the conference are two-fold:
- To unite leading and aspiring LGBTQ and allied voices to advance the dialogue around diversity in tech
- To address the power of tech to create social change.
The conference will feature top LGBTQ talent, including tech executives, influencers, and job seekers. With over 450 attendees, Out in Tech talks will be our largest event ever. The summit is divided into 3 parts:
- Networking Mixer on Friday night @ Time Inc. HQ
- Talks @ SVA Theatre, including Hillary Clinton’s digital team, & leaders from BuzzFeed, Netflix, Facebook, GrubHub, Snap Inc., GLAAD, Trevor Project, Girls Who Code
- After Hours @ Samsung 837 to celebrate LGBT founders + open bar
Our hope is that by bringing together so many ambitious, committed people together, we’ll have a deep discussion about how to improve diversity within the tech sector and how to use technology as a lever for social change. And we’ll have fun doing it!
Excited? Want to help make the world a better place? Then grab a ticket to Out in Tech Talks before they sell out! This weekend will be powerful, and I hope you’ll join us for this awesome event!