In a meeting with California State Legislators, technology industry leaders vowed to renew their commitment to find diverse technical talent at all levels, from company boards to specialized technical roles. Legislators representing the California Legislative Black Caucus, California Latino Legislative Caucus, California Legislative Women’s Caucus, and the California Asian Pacific Islander Caucus met with the decision-making executives to discuss current diversity efforts in the Silicon Valley.
“It is imperative that diversity be a priority starting at the very top of every company in Silicon Valley and be woven into the fabric of every organization to create a welcoming environment for all,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden (AD – 41), Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus.
Organized by TechNet and hosted by PayPal, summit attendees included top executives representing Uber, Lyft, General Motors, ChargePoint, SunRun, Bloom Energy, Instacart, AirBnB, and tech giants Google and Apple.
All in attendance agreed to be more transparent in their efforts and to work with the Legislature in diversifying their boards. The summit not only allowed for communication from industry to the legislature, but assisted in the exchange of ideas amongst the technology companies.
“Our great state is blessed with an increasingly diverse and experienced workforce – that is a key reason why California is so attractive to companies in all industries – particularly the high tech community.” said California Latino Legislative Caucus Chair Senator Ben Hueso (SD – 40).
“The technology industry must address the lack of women—especially women of color—at every level by being leaders in creating opportunities that promote gender equality,” said Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (AD – 58), Chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus. “Diversity is good for business and the talent is here now if space is created and women’s contributions are fostered.”
“Silicon Valley and our tech industry have work to do when it comes to diversity,” said Assemblymember Laura Friedman (AD – 43). “And it goes beyond the obvious lack of women and some minorities in the workforce and the board rooms. We need content with roles that reflect reality and encourage opportunities, rather than reinforcing tired and oppressive stereotypes.”
“We need our workforce to be more reflective of all Californians,” said Assemblymember Rob Bonta (AD – 18) Chair of the API Legislative Caucus. “It’s the right thing to do and it’s also good business. Studies have shown that companies with racial and ethnic diversity, as well as better female representation in leadership, achieve higher revenue, more profitability, and higher market values.”
PayPal about its new diversity department stating that they want to focus on creating an inclusive culture both in their Silicon Valley office and across the world. Other companies spoke of pipeline programs such as AirBnB’s “AirBnB Connect,” intended to improve pathways to careers in engineering and data science for people from underrepresented backgrounds seeking to transition to a career in tech. General Motors’ “Take Two” program brings in women who were absent from the workforce to raise families and helps them to re-enter through state of the art training and education opportunities.