In an attempt to tackle the glaring lack of diversity within the tech community, the Congressional Black Caucus has introduced a new initiative to strengthen the pipeline between African-Americans and tech jobs.
Earlier today, the CBC launched CBC Tech 2020, a program where lawmakers will brainstorm solutions to diversify the workforce, connect Black entrepreneurs and students to employers and increase STEM programs in schools.
“Many of the technology companies have African-Americans as very loyal customers, and many of those don’t have any African-Americans on their boards,” CBC Chairman Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) told The Hill. “Their senior leadership within many of these companies is not inclusive, and the workforce is appalling. And their reinvestment in African-American communities is less than desirable.”
The initiative will focus its attention on big names within the tech community like Facebook and Google, whose Black employees make up just 2 percent of their entire employee bases. “Many of these companies have told me and have told my staff that they are embarrassed with the numbers, and they want to do better,” Butterfield told The Hill. “We want to talk about what these companies can do in helping develop a new generation of workers, of professionals, and that means STEM education.”
Lawmakers are also considering evaluating the racial demographics within tech companies and distributing a sort of report card. However, members of the CBC say that the purpose is not to humiliate, but rather to raise awareness.
“The numbers tell the story, and action is long overdue,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said in a statement. “Inclusion of African-Americans in the tech workforce has been treated as an afterthought for far too long.”