Crack the Code: Closing the Diversity Gap by Teaching Girls & Students of Color Computer Science

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If you’re looking for a career with good job security and a great salary, you need look no further than computer science. We live in an app-based world, after all, where there’s an exponentially growing need for software that meets the needs of our modern-day life. Since 1990, jobs in computer science have grown by 338 percent according to a recent Pew Research Center report, making them the fastest-growing occupations in the United States. These are high-paying jobs too, with a current median salary of more than $ 82,000 (which is almost double the national median income), according to the US Labor Department.

However, while the field of computer science is brimming with opportunity, women and minorities fill a disproportionately small number of these positions. According to the Pew report, only 7 percent of computer jobs are filled by African Americans and 7 percent by Hispanic workers, while these populations comprise 12 percent and 17 percent of the US labor force, respectively. The report found that while women in the states have come close to closing the overall labor force gap (now filling 47 percent of jobs), their percentage in computer-related jobs has actually dropped from 32 to 25 percent in the past three decades. The study observes an interesting correlation: since personal computers came out and the public perception set in that they’re primarily the domain of white male gamers, the percentage of women in computer fields has steadily dropped. 

Big tech companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook have been in the national spotlight in recent years for their unequal employment of women and minorities, and many of them have launched programs to increase diversity in their workforces in response. Even while the public criticizes these programs for not doing enough (Google employs women in just 20 percent of its tech positions and Apple in just 23 percent), there has simultaneously been a backlash, culminating in a leaked internal memo written by ex-Google engineer James Damore last July claiming that diversity programs at Google resulted in reverse discrimination and that women were inherently less biologically suited to tech jobs.

Amid the din of public debate, the nonprofit Code.org has been addressing the diversity gap where it begins—at school. Twin brothers Hadi and Ali Partovi launched Code.org in 2013 after immigrating from Iran. Formerly a developer for Microsoft before becoming CEO of Code.org, Hadi said he experienced first-hand how computer science could change the trajectory of your life. Now he spends his time trying to bring computer science courses to every public school. Code.org has developed curriculums, online courses, and outreach programs that focus on including girls and students of color from kindergarten through high school. Their success has been outstanding: they’ve reached 500 million students with their Hour of Code events, they’ve prepped 72,000 new computer science teachers, and helped 40 states change policies to support bringing computer science into classrooms. In a conversation with iPhone Life, Hadi Partovi responds to the diversity backlash and makes the case for why computer science needs women and minorities more than ever.

Encouraging girls and underrepresented minorities to learn computer science is a central part of your mission. Why is that important?
This is important not only because computer science leads to the best paying careers, but because in the 21st century, a basic high school background in computer science will be increasingly foundational to every career. Yet girls and students of color are still systematically left behind in this critical field. We’re addressing the problem by making sure every school teaches computer science and by providing a curriculum and teacher prep program that ensures the class is offered in a way that addresses equity and diversity at the core.

What are some of the causes you see as contributing to the gender gap and underrepresentation of people of color in computer programming?
Our focus is on the diversity gap in K–12 education. There are three factors that contribute to the problem in our school systems:
 
1) Equal Access: Most schools don’t even offer computer science courses. This is particularly true in underprivileged urban and rural schools. If the course isn’t even offered, the students never get the opportunity to study it. Consider this: black students are more interested in studying computer science, but they are less likely to attend a school that offers it. Computer science is the most-valued subject in all education, and we believe students should have equal access to study it. 
 
2) Biases and Stereotypes: Where computer science is offered, it’s most often an elective. And with no concerted efforts to recruit diversity, preconceived stereotypes are perpetuated through self-selection, or even through school efforts that reflect the unconscious biases of society. With few to no role models, girls and underrepresented minorities make the assumption that computer science is not for them.
 
3) Math-Focused Curriculum: Traditionally computer science has been taught as a math course, and that only attracts one type of student. By broadening the focus to include creativity, app-making, and social impact, we also broaden the participation by students who previously didn’t consider this an interesting course.
 

 

Students complete coding exercises using Code.org’s curriculums. Less than half of America’s schools offer computer science courses, but Code.org’s CEO Hadi Partovi is bent on changing that. “We’re addressing the problem by making sure every school teaches computer science.” Image source: Code.org

How are you working to close the diversity gap?
Code.org works to get computer science taught in K–12 schools. When we began our work, only about 10 percent of schools offered computer science classes, and now it’s close to 50 percent. Code.org creates the world’s most popular computer science curriculum for K–12 schools, and we enlist schools and prepare teachers to teach our courses, with a specific focus on equity and diversity. To address stereotypes and biases, Code.org organizes widespread marketing and awareness campaigns, such as the global Hour of Code during Computer Science Educations Week that encourage diverse participation and feature diverse role models. Our professional learning programs feature sessions that help educators understand the importance of diversity and address ways to avoid unintentional biases in interacting and recruiting students. The results speak for themselves: 25 percent of all students in the United States now have accounts on the Code.org platform. Close to 12 million of them are girls. Our students are almost half female, almost half underrepresented minorities. Our diversity numbers and scale are unprecedented because of the incredible work of almost a million teachers who offer our courses as part of the K–12 school system.

In James Damore’s memo, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” Damore makes the argument that women are less inherently interested or even capable in tech. What is your response to this?
Debating this, or even asking this question, is offensive to women. A 2016 study from the University of Toronto shows that genes make no difference in the ability to learn computer science. There is no evidence that biological factors hold women back from learning to code. UCLA research shows that the way computer science is taught in schools disadvantages women. The problems we witness over and over again are accessibility and social stereotyping. Code.org’s own research shows that just a single Hour of Code activity can boost girls’ attitude and confidence toward coding, by simply trying our courses, which are designed to break traditional stereotypes. 
 
Common sense would suggest that having programmers from different backgrounds would lead to a diversity of ideas. Do you have any examples from your organization that support this notion?
Code.org’s own team is mostly female, our leadership team is gender balanced, and even our tech team boasts better gender diversity than the industry average. We believe this has played a large role in the diversity results our courses show in America’s classrooms.  We also pilot our courses and our ideas with a nationwide network of about 400 teaching experts that also bring a diversity of opinions. I’ve seen tech companies make embarrassing product design decisions because the design team didn’t have diversity in mind, and we’ve never had that problem at Code.org.
 

Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi (pictured above) and his brother Ali launched their education nonprofit in 2013. After immigrating from Iran and becoming a developer for Microsoft before founding Code.org, Hadi has experienced first-hand how computer science can change the trajectory of a person’s life. Now he spends his time trying to bring computer science courses to every K–12 school. Image source: Code.org

In a Reddit thread last August, James Damore criticized organizations including Girls Who Code and Code.org for encouraging a “women are victims” narrative. He also accused you of making coding look more “people oriented than it really is” in order to attract more women. What is your response to these criticisms? 
Code.org doesn’t try to increase diversity in computer science by faking what it’s about, or by dumbing it down, or by coloring it pink, so to speak. We achieve diversity by broadening access, by teaching computer science as early as kindergarten before stereotypes kick in, and by expanding it from being a math course to include app-making and creativity. Our students pass the high school A.P. computer science exam in larger numbers than any other group, and with strong diversity. Our results speak for themselves. 

Do you believe it’s possible that the gender gap is not evidence of discrimination or unequal opportunity? Why or why not?
It could be wrong to assume that unequal outcomes are only a result of unequal opportunity. But when the majority of schools don’t even offer the opportunity to study computer science, and this access is particularly limited in underprivileged urban and rural neighborhoods, the data easily shows that inequality of opportunity is the problem.

How can we create tech workplaces that are more welcoming to all employees?
At Code.org, we strive to create a workplace that makes employees feel included regardless of gender, race, age, or politics. This isn’t just about policies like paid family leave or unconscious bias training for employees, but it’s also about considering inclusivity as a core goal of the organization that employees genuinely take to heart.

What hiring practices do you use to promote diversity? Considering there are fewer women and minorities entering the computer science workforce, do you find balancing your diversity efforts with a more merit-based approach to be a conflict of interest?
Diversity is a core value at Code.org, and we strive for a diverse workforce to the extent that we can. We don’t consider it a matter of balancing diversity with a more merit-based approach—that implies that we compromise one for the other. It’s a matter of making the best effort to staff a team that is diverse and has merit. The most important tactics we use are to proactively recruit diverse candidates and to screen resumes without knowing the race or gender of applicants to prevent unconscious bias. As one example, when we were hiring software engineers from university, we hid their names when screening the resumes, and afterwards when we looked at the names we picked, our best candidates were women. We hired two of them. 

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Women in tech: the £150bn advantage of increasing diversity

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To mark International Women’s Day – 8 March 2018 – Guardian technology journalist Joanna Goodman sets out not only the size of the challenge of increasing diversity in a male-dominated industry, but also the enormous advantages.

A recent Women in Technology World Series roundtable identified five fundamental challenges that need to be met to achieve gender diversity in the technology sector.

The essential changes are closing the gender pay gap – to ensure that the industry values women and men equally – and, importantly, engaging men to champion gender equality in the workplace.

Doing this will demonstrate the value to businesses, and to the entire tech industry, of recruitment, promotion, and reward being determined by merit, rather than by outdated preconceptions.

Removing barriers to entry

The figures are stark: women make up just 14.4 percent of people working in science technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) careers in the UK, according to research by Deloitte. This figure is even less than the 17 percent reported last year by robotics organisation UK-RAS at UK Robotics Week.

The research also finds that 70 percent of women with STEM qualifications don’t go into those industries, despite girls outperforming boys in every STEM subject at A’Level. This discrepancy has been linked to a lack of confidence, leading many businesses to change their approach to recruitment.

Kate Miller, chief commercial officer at City Pantry says, “Often when jobs are advertised, businesses automatically lean towards a certain candidate. We’re actively employing a strategy to make sure our job applications and descriptions aren’t biased towards a certain demographic.”

The other side of the coin involves encouraging girls into STEM careers. Deloitte suggests that businesses need to engage with schools and colleges to reduce the engrained differences in the skills that women gain and develop. In short, improving confidence removes the barriers.

Closing the IT pay gap

Despite years of campaigning, the gender pay gap in the tech sector – 17 percent – is much higher than the nine percent disparity found across all industries collectively.

Research by Hired found that, on average, technology companies offer women three percent less than men for the same roles, and that 69 percent of the time, men receive higher offers than women for the same roles.

“Until women get paid the same as men, it’ll always be women who have to step down from their careers and into the primary caregiver role,” explains Sereena Abbassi, head of Culture & Inclusion at M&C Saatchi Group.

However, the pay gap is lowest in seed-stage companies, suggesting that startups recognise the benefit of a diverse workforce. So the question then becomes: can diversity and pay parity be sustained as companies grow?

A significant factor in wage disparity is the ‘expectation gap’, which again links inequality with confidence. Hired found that as the ratio of men to women in a role increases, so does the wage gap, which means that the expectation gap is wider for more senior roles.

This highlights the importance of offering equal pay early on, as salary discrepancies will be compounded by time and seniority.

Overcoming unconscious bias

“Unconscious bias is not just present in hiring; it’s present throughout our careers,” says City Pantry’s Miller. “I have young children and in one of my previous roles, I travelled a lot. Every time I volunteered to go abroad for a project, one of my colleagues – with good intent – would volunteer to go in my place.”

That may be bias or social conditioning, but unconscious bias has been cited as a contributing factor in why, for example, 91 percent of investment over the past year has gone to companies with no female founders.

It may also contribute to the fact that male managers are 40 percent more likely to be promoted than female managers, which exacerbates the gender pay gap, according to the Chartered Management Institute.

Awareness is the first step toward overcoming unconscious bias. Mentoring programmes and broadening the variety of workplace networks are among the solutions to raising awareness of the problem.

IBM CEO Virginia Rometty, who has refocused the company on cognitive services

Addressing imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome is the feeling of inadequacy that has been experienced by many female technology leaders, including Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg.

“When I looked around the office there were a lot of women, but not many leaders,” explains Intuit’s marketing leader, Alicia Skubick.

“Imposter syndrome can be a real barrier to qualified female candidates applying for leadership positions, or seeking a promotion, or a step up in their careers. This is why we’ve set up a networking group and a mentoring programme. We coach on imposter syndrome and fear of failure.”

Skubick encourages women leaders to inspire and support others. “If female leaders are passionate about promoting their peers, we will start to see a real impact,” she says.

Engaging men, as well as women

According to Tech Nation 2017, digital tech jobs are being created twice as fast as non-digital jobs, with six percent of UK employees working in digital tech roles – a total of 1.64 million jobs. Similar statistics are to be found worldwide.

McKinsey suggests that bridging the UK gender gap has the potential to add £150 billion to GDP forecasts for 2025, and could translate into 840,000 additional female employees.

So the message is clear: there are significant economic benefits to be gained for the UK and for the wider tech industry by encouraging more women to work – and lead – in the sector, and by increasing workplace diversity.

But genuine gender equality in the workplace means engaging everyone: women and men. Technology director for Platform at Expedia, Nasreen AbdulJaleel says, “We’re building more confidence to ask for, and expect more, from our male colleagues. And the response is really encouraging.”

“The onus can’t just be on women; we need to work in tandem with men in order to create greater gender equality.”

However, the fact remains that gender diversity in technology needs to start long before childcare considerations come into the picture – it needs to be a priority in education, when students are deciding which subjects to study and which career direction to take.

It’s then about encouraging female STEM graduates into tech roles in a 21st century workplace with female role models and a culture of support and equality.

Female tech leaders are in the vanguard of change, engaging male and female colleagues to overturn unconscious bias and the preconception that entrepreneurs, leaders, and managers are male roles.

The best way to change women’s expectations is by creating a workplace where men and women are valued – and paid – equally.

Internet of Business says

Despite years of campaigning for gender equality and diversity in society, it’s both depressing to read the statistics for the tech sector, and inspiring to see the change bubbling under, as described in Joanna Goodman’s report.

The UK’s AI industry is in the vanguard of that change. At the recent Westminster eForum event on public AI policy, many of the leading speakers were women, including Dame Wendy Hall, techUK’s Sue Daley, and Dr Rannia Leontaridi and Gila Sacks, who are joint heads of the new Office for AI in Whitehall.

Elsewhere in the industry, CEOs such as IBM’s Virginia Rometty, HPE’s Meg Whitman, and Ursula Burns of Xerox – the first black woman to lead a Fortune 500 company – join Facebook’s Sandberg at the very top, along with the many senior academics in AI, tech policy, and robotics who are women.

But all too often tech industry events neglect to invite women to participate, or resort to featuring them in ‘womens’ panels’. This is frequently an expression of unconscious bias rather than an indication that there aren’t enough women to invite.

Fostering and encouraging change is one thing, but sustaining it is another – especially when this is a global problem. For example, it’s extraordinary to report that, in 2018, only one country in the world has 50 percent or more representation of women in parliament: Rwanda. Most Western nations are a long, long way behind.

Let’s work together to not only talk about change, but put systems and policies in place to make it happen and to sustain it into the future.

Internet of Business is committed to fostering diversity in every way and to featuring as many women in the technology sector in our stories as possible, not in the sense of positive discrimination, but to reflect the fact that women are frequently leading or involved with programmes at senior level.

Despite that, they are frequently overlooked by IT publications who default to ‘man in a suit’ photos or pictures of technology. Over time, this reinforces perceptions than can easily be changed.

• Joanna Goodman is a freelance journalist who writes about business and technology for national publications, including The Guardian newspaper and the Law Society Gazette, where she is IT columnist. Her book Robots in Law: How Artificial Intelligence is Transforming Legal Services was published in 2016.

Read more: Women in AI & IoT: Why it’s vital to Re•Work the gender balance

The post Women in tech: the £150bn advantage of increasing diversity appeared first on Internet of Business.

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Labor board says Google legally fired diversity memo writer

James Damore may claim Google was wrong to fire him over his memo criticizing the company's diversity culture, but a federal government overseer begs to differ. The National Labor Relations Board has published a January memo recommending a dismissal…
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The venture capital firm Lightspeed is trying to hold its portfolio companies accountable by asking them to sign a new diversity letter

The firm behind companies like HQ Trivia doesn’t have a perfect record on diversity issues. Does their new policy have enough teeth?

There have been internal investigations, Medium mea culpas and Decency Pledges — all part of how Silicon Valley venture capital firms have reckoned with a year of invigorated conversation about sexual harassment and diversity.

Now, here’s a new attempt to fix the problem: The side letter.

Lightspeed Venture Partners is asking its portfolio company CEOs to sign a letter affirming their commitment to consider women and other underrepresented groups for senior jobs and new spots on their board of directors.

The venture firm behind hits like Snap is requesting that its companies voluntarily sign the document at around the same time that Lightspeed wires money to their bank account, part of an attempt by Lightspeed to hold their own CEOs accountable.

It is a tactic that brings to mind the famous “Rooney Rule” that started in the NFL but has since spread to other industries, which required that teams interview at least one person of color for head coaching and other senior jobs. The thinking here is that merely interviewing a female candidate makes companies more likely to hire them — though this particular policy does indeed lack some of the teeth that is seen in the NFL, which has fined teams that disobey it.

“The question we’ve asked ourselves is how can we do something more than write blog posts about it and wring our hands,” Jeremy Liew, a managing partner at Lightspeed, said in an interview.

The one-page letter on Lightspeed letterhead asks its company CEOs to sign their name, acknowledging and affirming that the firm expects that “at least one candidate from an underrepresented background be considered for every open leadership and independent Board member position in the company,” according to the letter shared with Recode. Lightspeed is also asking that the company set goals and hire more women and other underrepresented employees than the industry average.

Lightspeed says 17 of its existing company CEOs have already signed the side letter — including CEOs from well-known companies like The Honest Company, Affirm and HQ Trivia, the white-hot quiz show app that had some difficulty raising money after investors unearthed questionable behavior toward women by one of its co-founders, Colin Kroll. Lightspeed is the main financial backer of HQ, and it is notable that Kroll, also the co-founder of Vine, is in the first batch of signatories of the letter.

Lightspeed is asking each of its new portfolio companies to sign the side letter — but it is not mandatory. Some portfolio companies also said weeks elapsed in between signing the term sheet and the actual letter. There are still more than 300 portfolio companies that not have yet signed it, though Lightspeed is approaching each CEO and asking them to do so.

Nothing about the letter is binding or punative. Lightspeed acknowledges that the document has no enforcement mechanism and effectively relies on company CEOs to honor their commitment. Furthermore, Liew said he and his partners have not yet decided whether a CEO’s reluctance to sign the side letter would mean that they would back away from a new deal entirely.

“Most entrepreneurs think of themselves as men and women of their word,” said Liew, who said that Lightspeed would be willing to have “reminder conversations” with CEOs who seem to be wavering on the understandings that they affirmed in the letter.

If the firm instituted something stricter — requiring the selection of women for certain roles, for instance, or vowing that CEOs would see personal consequences if they reneged on the agreement — Liew said they would be letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

“If we did that with a prospective entrepreneur, it wouldn’t get signed at all,” he said. “We’re thought partners. We’re not their mom or dad. We’re not the police.”

Lightspeed’s own record on these issues is not perfect. The firm said last year that it “should have done more” after reports emerged that Justin Caldbeck, a former venture capitalist at Lightspeed, was accused of making unwanted advances toward women both when he worked at the firm and after his departure.

This side letter does not directly deal with harassment.

Some Lightspeed-backed CEOs who signed the document told Recode that they saw the document as a minor ask, and not one that required much deliberation. That raises the possibility that the letter could merely formalize what founders already intend to do, and not change behavior.

Max Levchin, the founder of the highly valued Affirm, which has been in Lightspeed’s portfolio for four years, said in an interview that it was a “no-brainer” to sign the sheet. Levchin said his company already had internal guidelines that asked for women and other underrepresented people to be considered for senior-level positions, so the Lightspeed instructions wouldn’t materially change how the company operates. He does like that leaders are being asked to commit, though.

Affirm is also planning to add up to four independent directors to its board later this year, Levchin said, and the recruiting firm that Affirm has hired to find candidates, Russell Reynolds, already had presented him with a majority-female list of candidates for him to choose from.

The guidelines on those interviewed for board positions only applies to independent directors — Lightspeed will not, for instance, be trying to influence who other venture firms name to their board seats.

Newer portfolio companies are being asked to sign the document as they prepare to accept funding (though, since it is not always being signed simultaneously with the term sheet, the funding is not contingent).

Sophia Amoruso, whose women-focused media company Girlboss announced it received $ 3.1 million in a seed round led by Lightspeed in December, said that the document “doesn’t impact my thinking” because she already planned to have a heavily female leadership team.

“It wasn’t a big conversation,” she said of Lightspeed’s ask, a couple of months after signing the term sheet, to also sign the side letter. “The agreement is not something that’s going to govern how I behave. My ethics will govern how I behave.”

Here’s the full text of the letter — this one sent to Levchin, for instance:

Max,

We are delighted to partner with Affirm to build a world-class company.

As you know, numerous groups that would contribute significantly to the success of a business have historically been underrepresented in technology companies, including women, disabled individuals, military veterans, and individuals from a number of underrepresented ethnic groups, including those that identify as African-American, Hispanic or Native American.

Lightspeed believes that the most successful companies benefit from employees, executives and Board members with diverse backgrounds and experiences. This diversity brings with it a broader set of viewpoints and ideas and a more informed decision-making capability, leading in our experience to the creation of stronger businesses.

In furtherance of our partnership, Lightspeed welcomes your commitment to build teams at every level of your organization that reflect the full diversity of all of the stakeholders in your business. Lightspeed requests that at least one candidate from an underrepresented background be considered for every open leadership and independent Board member position in the company. Lightspeed encourages the company to set specific goals regarding overall hiring rates of women and other underrepresented groups that are published internally and to which the company holds itself accountable. These goals should exceed the relevant industry average in a meaningful way, and progress against these goals should be actively measured.

Lightspeed looks forward to working with you on a regular basis regarding the company’s efforts in achieving a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Sincerely,

By: _________________________________________________________________________________

Jeremy Liew

ACKNOWLEDGED AND AFFIRMED:

Affirm

By: _________________________________________________________________________________


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Facebook, Google lobbyists push for diversity in response to Congress

Silicon valley has a diversity problem. Sexism and racism are everywhere in the technology sector, and it's time to put an end to it. The Internet Association, a lobbying group for some of the biggest names in tech (think Amazon, Airbnb, Uber, Facebo…
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A lobbying group for Amazon, Facebook and Google is kicking off a new diversity initiative thanks to pressure from Congress

The Internet Association told lawmakers this week that its new campaign aims to “improve diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.”

A key voice for Amazon, Facebook, Google and other tech giants in the nation’s capital is kicking off a new initiative to try to diversify the industry’s predominately white, male ranks.

For years, Silicon Valley and other tech hotspots around the country have faced constant condemnation for failing to hire and retain employees from underrepresented groups. Among the critics is the Congressional Black Caucus, a powerful group of lawmakers that has even threatened regulation if tech doesn’t make major changes.

In response to that political pressure, a key lobbying group for the industry, the Internet Association, told lawmakers this week that it would create a new role to focus on those issues — and kick off a campaign that aims to “improve diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.”

That means a fresh commitment to publish more “accurate and relevant industry-wide employment data,” according to the group’s leader, Michael Beckerman.

“It is important that the diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints among internet users is represented in the industry generally and our policy engagement specifically,” he wrote in a letter dated Jan. 23 and obtained by Recode. Other members of the Internet Association include Airbnb, Uber and Twitter.

The missive specifically responds to two lawmakers, Democratic Reps. Emanuel Cleaver and Bonnie Watson Coleman, who wrote the trade organization last year to demand that it play a greater role in addressing racial and gender bias.

Asked about the hiring announcement, Cleaver told Recode in a statement: “The Internet Association has responded in a very serious and proactive manner to our concerns that there was no one guarding the guardians when it comes to the internet and its potentially negative effects on racial and gender bias. It is critical that this position be given a high level of authority and respect such that any perceived racial and gender biases can be immediately identified and addressed.”

Diversity is hardly a novel challenge for the tech industry; for years, the most prominent brands in Silicon Valley have faced criticism for poor hiring practices and workplaces that lack or fail to retain employees from underrepresented groups.

At Facebook, for example, its U.S. workforce is only 3 percent black, according to data released last year. Google’s technical workforce is 1 percent black, its 2017 data show.

As a result, tech companies have faced immense pressure to improve — including from groups like the CBC, which even traveled to Silicon Valley in recent years to press Apple, Facebook, Intel and others to demand they rethink their hiring practices.

Even outside the context of congressional criticism, these companies claim they’ve made great improvements while investing in organizations that seek to aid minorities in science, technology, engineering and math fields. But there’s a recognition, including on Capitol Hill, that change has not come quickly enough.

In the meantime, tech giants Facebook and Google — which lobbied the federal government extensively last year — tasked their Washington, D.C., offices to focus on lawmakers’ concerns about diversity, according to federal ethics reports.


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Uber has hired its first chief diversity officer

Bo Young Lee will be filling a role the Holder Report recommended that Uber create.

Uber has been on a C-suite hiring spree. Now the embattled ride-hail company has hired Bo Young Lee to be its first-ever chief diversity and inclusion officer, sources familiar told Recode.

Uber confirmed that Lee would be starting in her new role in March.

Lee’s hire — the third executive appointment under newly minted CEO Dara Khosrowshahi following chief legal officer Tony West and chief operating officer Barney Harford — is an important one for the company as it attempts to refurbish its image and address the many issues first brought to light by Susan Fowler’s essay in February 2017.

After Fowler published her essay, Uber hired former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder and his partner, Tammy Albarran, to conduct an investigation into the company’s culture. Following the investigation, the law firm recommended — among other things — that the ride-hail company promote its current global head of diversity, Bernard Coleman, by elevating him to a new, more senior role of chief diversity officer. The Holder report also recommended that Coleman report directly to the company CEO and COO.

The Holder recommendations read:

“An empowered senior leader who is responsible for diversity and inclusion is key to the integrity of Uber’s efforts. Uber should elevate the visibility of the current Head of Diversity, Bernard Coleman, and emphasize the outreach component of Mr.Coleman’s position.”

“In addition, the position should be renamed the “Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer,” and the position should report directly to the CEO or the COO. This action is intended to reflect the elevated status of this role and demonstrate the company’s commitment to this issue.”

However, while the board voted unanimously to implement the Holder recommendations, the company kept its options open with regard to whether to promote Coleman or bring in an outside hire.

Additionally, Lee, who was the global diversity and inclusion officer at financial services firm Marsh, will not be reporting directly to Khosrowshahi and Harford; she will report to Uber’s chief human resources officer, Liane Hornsey, for the time being.

Bo Young Lee

As she gets settled, Uber spokesperson Momo Zhou told Recode, the company will determine if she will continue to report to Hornsey or report directly to Khosrowshahi as the Holder report recommends. Coleman, in turn, will be reporting to Lee, though his role still needs to be more clearly defined.

“We will be real partners in a lot of this work,” Lee, who is based in New York, said. “Bernard and I have had some conversations about what his role will be.”

In years past, Uber declined to share its diversity numbers publicly. But since Fowler’s accusations of sexism at the company, the ride-hail player has made a more public effort to be more transparent and increase diversity, including donating a $ 1.2 million grant to Girls Who Code — although that move was not without controversy.

With an eye toward taking the company public in 2019, Khosrowshahi is working quickly to right the ship at Uber. That, in part, includes filling critical executive roles. The company, however, has yet to hire a new chief financial officer, a position left vacant since 2015.


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Uber hires first chief diversity officer to further reform its culture

Last year, Susan Fowler, a former Uber employee, penned an essay detailing rampant sexual harassment and sexism at the company as well as a complete lack of interest on the part of administrators to do anything about it. That report led to an investi…
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Apple CEO Tim Cook talks diversity, coding, more in interview with high school senior

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Apple CEO Tim Cook recently offered a few words of wisdom to high school senior Rebecca Kahn as part of a National Center for Women & Information Technology outreach program dubbed "Innovator to Innovator," which grants NCWIT Aspirations in Computing (AiC) Community members time with Apple executives.
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