I read an article this morning by Jim Fruchterman, Founder and CEO at Benetech (a nonprofit that creates and uses technology to benefit humanity) *Uh YESSS to that!!!* His article was a response to Laurence Fink's, CEO of Black Rock (the global investment firm funding and financing many of the world's largest companies), open letter to Silicon Valley. In Fink's letter, "A Sense of Purpose" he shares that companies can no longer focus solely on the bottom line and get ahead.
I know we've been reading this in text books, articles and essays at least since I was in college, but to hear it come directly from the man holding the bag feels very different to me...and gives me hope that things are truly beginning to change.
However, Fruchterman's letter isn't focused on Fink's comments. It's focused on The Valley's lack of response! He says that, "Fink’s letter wasn’t covered by the technology press." He checked the first ten pages of Google results and all the tech publications in Techmeme's top ten list (which would include Bloomberg, Techcrunch, The Times, The Verge, The WSJ) and found NOTHING!!!
Precisely proving Fink's initial point, that it's time to stop using racial, gender and educational privilege and inequitable access to ignore the marginalized minority and approach business opportunities in a way that help grow our sense of community instead of just profit! Ignoring diversity or the lack thereof is dangerous and will ultimately continue the current path of leveraging tech for the sake of making money versus not unlocking its true potential which is to, in Fruchterman's words, "make people better—more efficient in their jobs, more informed in their daily lives, and more connected to their communities." I couldn't agree more.
The issue with the status quo is that having a one dimensional, homogeneous workplace breeds comfort with a one dimensional point of view and limits the opportunity to solve problems that don't impact that point of view. We need more representation building the algorithms and developing the customer experiences that should address the needs of a global economy versus the limited scope and view of white men who make up roughly 30% of the US population.
Fructherman begins closing the article saying "Many in Silicon Valley will tell you that diversity has been a top priority for years, only to follow with reports that cite a 2% increase in women employees, 0% increase in black employees, and no data at all on the number of employees with disabilities. Let’s not conflate transparency with priority. We must increase diversity now while investing in STEM education and training to create a more diverse pipeline of workers for tomorrow’s technology jobs. By making the workforce of today and tomorrow more diverse, we make our communities more diverse. We are then one step closer to never discounting a point of view, value, or someone’s entire humanity due to a lack of voice." I'm happy that someone is paying attention to these disparities and hope that other leaders in the tech space hear his concern and are moved to action.