TECH DIVERSITY: OUR FIVE ACTIONS

Actions are more powerful than words. It is necessary that we do more than just talk about the need for a more diverse tech sector. We believe collective action and accountability are required to address the underrepresentation of women and people of color in our industry.

A first step we have taken is to acknowledge the complexity of this issue and that we need to be better educated on the societal constructs that have contributed to the current condition. Therefore we're spending considerable time coming together, raising our awareness of the issues, and empowering action throughout organizations taking the pledge. 

Below, you can see specific actions we have and are taking to to begin to make good on the pledge. 

1. PARTNER WITH GROUPS IN PORTLAND THAT CAN ASSIST with hiring and career advancement for underrepresented communities

This effort will not be successful if it is led entirely by the tech community and our initial partners. In order to make inroads and create meaningful change we need to work together with the multitude of groups who can help. If you are interested in working together to begin to address this dynamic, we want to hear from you. 

What's Being Done: 

PDC awards technology training grants to diversify Portland's tech workforce. Four organizations will split $100,000 to conduct outreach and training to racial and ethnic populations underrepresented in the technology industry. Check back here every six months as we provide updates on the progress of this effort. 

This summer we will begin working on a plan to collectively connect with community groups, populations, and people we want to be a greater part of the tech industry. We'll begin executing on the plan before the end of 2016. Individual companies have engaged in efforts.; here are a couple examples.  

  • Emerging Leaders Internship, co-organized by Ryan Buchanan (CEO of eROI), this program has exceeded its goal of 50 paid internships at businesses throughout the Portland Community. 
  • Portland's first 4K 4 Charity Run raises $58,000 for Rosemary-Anderson High School. The event surpassed previous events held in other cities and plans are being made for a 2016 version. 

2. Create and implement strategies to increase hiring of women and people of color, from intern programs to full-time positions at all levels within our organizations

We need more people working in technology. Developing a larger pool of workers from groups underrepresented in the tech community will provide us with the talent we need to grow, introduce us to more robust perspectives and diverse ideas, and help our community achieve more widely-shared prosperity.

What's Being Done: Some companies are already partnering with organizations that support youth employment opportunities. Others are working closely with code schools and technical training providers to employ graduates as interns and in entry level positions. Strategies are being developed to ensure that hiring can result from employee recruitment efforts to reach populations underrepresented in Portland tech.

A number of pledge companies and others in Portland Tech are taking advantage of the SummerWorks Program. SummerWorks will provide candidate screening, upfront training and be the employer of record. One pledge company utilized the program for an intern on its Operations team last year and is increasing that number to six this year. To see if it would be a good fit for you contact Reese Lord with Worksystems Inc.


3. Educate staff on unconscious workplace biases and implement specific actions designed to alleviate them

More than 1,000 studies in the past 10 years alone have conclusively shown that if you’re human, you have bias. The question isn't "do we have bias", but rather, "what is ours"? Academic studies and best practices showcase this point. Additionally, startup tech companies are using big data to show more ways to combat this issue.

What's Being Done: A significant amount of our focus has been on educating employees within the pledge companies and Portland Tech in general of this important issue. We have five half-day sessions available to all employees within all pledge companies to raise their level of awareness on this topic. Also, a number of the larger pledge companies have put in place their own training programs internally. 

We've also worked together to identify and empower Change Agents within the organizations who can help address issues keeping a workplace or it's culture from being inclusive. 


4. Provide internal development and progression programs, and ensure employees FROM UNDERREPRESENTED COMMUNITIES can access these programs

In addition to developing a diverse pipeline and broadening the scope of who we hire, ensuring employment success is equally important. We are committed to providing career development programs that are easily accessible to employees from underrepresented populations. Providing development opportunities will increase the performance, satisfaction and retention rates of our workforce.

What's Being Done: Check back as we showcase some of our efforts here. We're expecting to focus on this effort in 2017.


5. Share our collective data on the demographic representation within our offices in the Portland metro area of gender and race

There are good examples of tech companies across the US are doing this individually. See how Google does it. Check out this infographic put together by the Wall Street Journal.

Our progress will be deliberate and incremental, but we are committed to creating a welcoming and diverse workplace. We will be accountable by collectively releasing the demographic representation of our companies. 

What's Being Done: Portland Tech Diversity participant companies come in all forms, small to large, public and private. Given the variety we are taking steps to ensure that participant companies can collect data in an accurate, safe and efficient way that is easily repeatable. The survey is in the field and results should be released by August 2016.