on Apr 23, 2021
We asked collaborators across our network what’s needed to address tech’s racial income gap, and how data can support their work. Here is what they said.
The tech sector faces a deep and persistent racial equity crisis. Black and Latinx workers are significantly underrepresented across tech occupations, and more likely to hold lower-paying jobs in tech. This results in a “racial income gap” of up to $50 billion per year, as detailed in our companion analysis.
We invited collaborators from across our network to share their ideas for how this data could support their efforts to broaden opportunity. We hope this will be the start of an open discussion. Please share your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Building inclusive programs to support minority entrepreneurship
As part of The Ion’s vision to create an inclusive tech ecosystem and support equitable economic growth in Houston, we recently announced the launch of our Aerospace Innovation Accelerator for Minority Business Enterprises (AIA for MBEs). Dedicated to Black, Indigenous, and people of color-owned businesses, the 12-week program seeks to help entrepreneurs overcome high barriers to entry in the aerospace industry, a major economic driver in the Houston metro area. The accelerator will offer mentorship, training, corporate partnerships, access to capital, and networking opportunities with support from NASA’s Johnson Space Center and the U.S. Commerce Department. Read more about the initial cohort of four companies here.
Another key partner providing support for the AIA for MBEs is DivInc, which just launched its Houston Accelerator and will have its Houston headquarters at The Ion. DivInc focuses on helping underrepresented founders, including women and Black and Latinx founders, build successful high-growth businesses through events, community building, and targeted accelerator programs. Together, the AIA and DivInc Houston’s accelerator are focused on supporting not only minority and women tech founders and entrepreneurs, but also providing support for minority business enterprises that are looking to scale and expand their reach.
The Ion, set to open this year, will anchor a 16-acre, walkable innovation district in Houston’s urban core. It will house coworking spaces, maker spaces, classrooms, workforce development programs, and community event spaces designed to bring Houston’s entrepreneurial, corporate, academic, and investor communities together.
Invest in Black talent and redefine the innovation district for equity
Opportunity Hub (OHUB)
HR&A’s data shows that we must join forces to invest in the early exposure, education, reskilling and upskilling, hiring partnerships, inclusive innovation, new venture creation, early stage capital, and access to markets required at scale to ensure that everyone in America has the opportunity to create multi-generational wealth that does not rely on pre-existing multi-generational wealth.
For eight years, Opportunity Hub (OHUB) has been working to expose, upskill, and place Black Americans and others into software engineering, technical sales, and operations roles in the tech ecosystem. We have worked to incubate, accelerate, and invest in early-stage startups co-founded by Black Americans. Last year, we joined forces with Steve Case’s Rise of The Rest Fund and Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation to invest $2M in Black startups and build an ecosystem of more than 100 venture capital funds committed to increasing the flow of capital into Black tech startups. Via our 100 Black Angels & Allies Fund, we invest in Black technology startups, venture funds, and ecosystem-building companies while simultaneously working with organizations like The Links, Incorporated and UNC Chapel Hill’s Kenan Flagler to educate and certify a new generation of Black angel investors and limited partners. In partnership with SXSW, OHUB has built a growing community of 7,000+ students at 400 colleges and universities, including our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
In June 2020, OHUB formed Equity District, Inc. – hyper-local joint ventures with real estate developers, corporations, community foundations, colleges, and cities via public-private partnerships to build “Innovation & Equity Districts” – mixed-use residential, commercial, and retail community concepts that house OHUB’s early exposure, immersive rapid upskilling, talent placement, startup support programs. They provide capital access for socially disadvantaged communities located in and around Opportunity Zones. We’re now working with HR&A to integrate OHUB Equity Districts into innovation districts throughout the nation to ensure that the new innovation density that is being created doesn’t exclude, displace, or immobilize the surrounding neighborhoods. Current equity districts are being launched in Atlanta, Austin, Kansas City, MO, New Orleans, York, PA, Utica, NY, and Rochester, NY. Our goal is to launch 100 OHUB Equity Districts in the next 10 years with the teams, infrastructure, and funding to upskill 1.1 million Black Americans for immediate and available in-demand careers, and to accelerate and fund 10,000 high growth tech startups.
OHUB, with locations across the United States, is the leading technology, startup and venture ecosystem building platform created to ensure that everyone, everywhere has equitable access to the future of work, fourth industrial revolution, and beyond as a path to multi-generational wealth creation with no reliance on pre-existing multi-generational wealth.
Take a place-based approach to expand opportunity
What does it mean to create pathways into the tech economy for candidates without tech experience or a related degree? How does access to opportunity play out, tactically, within a neighborhood or housing development? The best workforce development initiatives are grounded in place, building skills in tandem with trusted networks for generational wealth creation. If cities are to build tech sectors that leverage the diverse perspectives and full creative power of their residents, it requires attention to geography, culture, and informational networks on a micro scale. Hyper-local data capture and co-created programming are Urbane’s call to action to make consequential shifts in who gets to work in tech.
In 2019, Urbane took a uniquely place-based approach to explore pathways into upwardly mobile tech sector jobs for residents of Marcy Houses, Armstrong Houses, and Lafayette Gardens, three New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments in Bed-Stuy. An intergenerational resident cohort engaged in a workshop process to demystify the broad world of tech jobs and to co-design optimal, accessible training pathways. Residents informed the scaffolding for five pilot constructs, described further in, “NYCHA to Tech Pipeline: A Place-Based Approach to Tech Sector Opportunities in Bed-Stuy.”
Urbane, based in New York, is a community development venture building bridges to wealth and opportunity.
Explore the role of temps, vendors, and contractors in deepening disparities
The findings in this data represent the reality in which TechEquity has long operated; the equity gap in our industry shows up not only as a disparity in representation, but a disparity in income equaling billions of dollars in missed revenue for Black and Latinx workers. Taken together, these factors mean a compounded racial income gap that will prove more and more difficult to unravel as time goes on. This data is not just numbers on a page – it is real lived experience and demonstrates the impact of inequality on an ongoing basis. While we often hear about high profile cases of racial disparity in the media; this data gives shape to all of the invisible cases that are happening in tech workplaces across the country.
Over the next six months, we’re interested to see how this data shows up specifically for temps, vendors, and contractors (TVCs) – tech workers who are contracted through third-party staffing organizations and who receive lower wages, fewer benefits, and fewer opportunities than their colleagues who are full-time employees. We’ve gathered anecdotal evidence that tells us people of color are more likely to be TVCs in a world that is already inequitable for Black and Latinx workers. We created the Contract Worker Disparity Project to explore that inequity more holistically and shed light on the disparities these workers experience. You can learn more about the project here.
TechEquity Collaborative, based in the Bay Area, mobilizes tech workers and companies to advance structural change that addresses economic inequity at its roots, focusing on housing and workforce & labor.
Address the immediate need for reskilling and include all voices in these efforts
New York City Employment & Training Coalition (NYCETC)
Over the course of the past year, we saw New York City lose 750,000 jobs, 68 percent of which were held by people of color. Our members at the New York City Employment and Training Coalition are reporting a skyrocketing need for high-quality jobs, upskilling, and reskilling New Yorkers who have lost their jobs. In New York City, many of these jobs are not coming back, which is why New Yorkers need access to training programs that will provide crucial tech skills, qualifications and high-quality stable jobs that have been out of reach for too long. The city’s—and the nation’s—path to an inclusive and equitable recovery starts by expanding workforce and digital training opportunities for all.
It’s also important that the path forward include the voices of those currently being left out of our normal power structures. NYCETC, in partnership with the Association for Neighborhood Housing Development and the Regional Plan Association, are working collaboratively on the NYC Inclusive Growth Initiative to develop an agenda that adds good jobs, retains and expands affordable housing, and drives the economy forward in a way that reduces structural inequities so New York City can have a truly equitable recovery.
NYCETC is the voice of New York’s workforce development community. It is the largest city-based workforce development association in the country with over 180 members providing jobs for half a million New Yorkers.