Diversity in Tech: Be the Change You Want to See
This post originally appeared on Blackweb20.com
The Internet has spawned companies like Google and Facebook. Companies that have not only changed how we find and share information, but have impacted the economy with job creation and monetization opportunities for companies of all sizes on their platforms. The Internet has been a life-changing bed of opportunity for thousands of small companies and individuals. However within all this opportunity, there is a problem that doesn’t seem to be improving and isn’t being discussed — the lack of diversity in the startup technology space.
It’s not a hidden issue. Reports from CB Insights reveal that less than 1% of startup founders are African American. Minorities are consuming media at an astounding rate, but they are not involved in the product creation process. The excuse that minorities just take longer to adapt to technology was one of the justifications given when the term “digital divide” was coined by Larry Irving. In an effort to show we’ve made some progress, it’s been upgraded to “digtal lag.”
Other reports such as the Pew study show that less that 50% of African Americans and slightly over 50% of Hispanics have adopted broadband Internet at home. This means that minority youth are not growing up with the Internet in their home or developing the comfort and confidence with the technology necessary to make technology an attainable career choice. They also don’t have access to all of the free online learning tools available. I believe there are things that all sides can do to help that can benefit everyone — from VCs and angel investors, startups both large and small, even the government.
As a community we need to ask ourselves, “What have I done to better position myself?” I do it and I’m not always happy with the answer. You want to be involved in the tech entrepreneurial space. Why not go to work at a startup to gain the experience and the relationships you can use when you launch your own? You’re aware of the skills these companies are looking for. What have you done to increase your skills in these areas? Ultimately, we can either sit back and the let the gap widen or we can make a move to cross it. We have a value proposition problem in our youth today. They are not looking at the tech world as a viable career path. If we’re going to institute change, we have to change our own thinking about getting involved in tech.
Many of you who read this blog are entrepreneurs and want to learn how to grow your business, raise capital and get your product built. You are looking in every direction except one: yourself. Many startups stall because they can’t find that technical c0-founder. If you want to start a company and can’t find one then maybe you should become one. If there are two of you looking build a business then one of you bite the bullet and handle the tech side of things. Lastly, if you are in the industry, there are a bunch of people in NY and the Valley who have ideas and possible investors but need a tech founder. There are ways to gain entry into the industry if we are willing to do the work.
We owe it not only to ourselves but the world. So many great ideas never see the light of day because we don’t push hard enough to execute them. There are kids out there looking for someone to show them a different way. We have the opportunity to do that. We can blame the current startup ecosystem for not making it easy for us. We can blame the government for not making sure they focus on the technology issues that truly affect us. We could do that, but I’m suggesting something different. Let’s achieve success in spite of the obstacles. All it takes is for us to make the decision to learn as much as possible and then do what we do best, break barriers. In the worlds of P. Diddy and B.I.G. “We can’t change the world unless we change ourselves.”
I’m ready to start. Are you with me?
- 20 Recommended Quora Threads for Startups (readwriteweb.com)
- Must Read Quora Threads for Startups (ryanspoon.com)
- What’s a Startup, Anyway? (whattofix.com)
- Startup School 2010 (kinlane.com)
- The modern tech CEO: Barefoot and 21 (cnn.com)
- Hackers: TechStars Wants To Hook You Up With Startups (businessinsider.com)