Tag Archives: minorities

Black Women Leading Corporate Diversity Programs

talton

Angela Talton

Diversity has become a buzz word in corporate America. Bringing new color and new perspectives to the workplace from the factory floor to the boardroom has never before been so urgent. Many corporations in the tech sector and the non-tech sector understand the need for inclusion has far reaching implications for industry and the nation.  Talented black women are being selected to drive this effort.

Nielsen Holdings, a leading audience measurement company, named Angela Talton  as its new Chief Diversity Officer. Talton is moving up from her former position of Senior Vice President of Global Diversity Inclusion.

According to a company press release Talton will continue to drive Nielsen’s diversity and inclusion programs including supplier diversity, training and employee engagement. Talton started at Nielsen in 2007 as senior vice president for global call center operations. Talton was formerly employed by Sears and ALLTEL Communications which was purchased by AT&T in 2013 . Talton attended University of North Carolina Chapel Hill where she earned a degree in business administration. She also secured an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Nielsen’s CEO Mitch Burns said of Talton, “Diversity and inclusion are crucial to our growth, strength, and ability to innovate.  Angela’s vision, leadership and execution have helped us re-imagine diversity at a global scale. As Nielsen’s Chief Diversity Officer, she will be a vital part of my leadership team and a champion for our company wide investments to ensure our business is representative of the communities where we live and work.

Candice Morgan

Candice Morgan

Pinterest has named Candice Morgan as their diversity chief.  Morgan worked at Catalyst Incorporated for 10 years where she focused on building diverse and inclusive work environments. Catalyst is a nonprofit research group tracking women in business. Morgan will report to Pinterest’s head of recruiting.

Pinterest is one of the few tech companies to publicly set out goals to employ more women and minorities.

Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp said Morgan will “help build the programs and teams” Pinterest needs to reach its “creative potential as a company.” 

Pinterest’s business team is made up of two-thirds women. However that dominance is not reflected in other areas of the company. For example only 21 percent of the tech jobs, 19 percent of the engineering jobs and 16 percent of the company’s leadership positions are female.  Minority representation inside Pinterest reveals that only  8 percent of its employees weren’t white or Asian. Black or Hispanic employees accounted for 5 percent of business roles and less than 2 percent of engineering roles. Blacks and minorities are completely absent from leadership positions.

Pinterest is close to the half way point of meeting the self imposed hiring goals. Morgan is joining the company at a crucial time in this process. Her responsibilities will be to make sure Pinterest reaches those goals. She will also work with outside partners such as the diversity strategy firm Paradigm and internal employee groups. The company is seeking to increase the hiring rate for full-time engineering roles to 30 percent women and 8 percent minority. In July of 2015 those hiring rates were 21 percent and 2 percent respectively.

“Pinterest is willing to experiment and really sees that no one is getting it 100 percent right and there is no one solution,”  said Morgan in a statement to USA Today. “Pinterest knows to find solutions that work for Pinterest, it has to be innovative.”

Reaching diversity goals is an elusive target, ask any CEO. Most recently even Apple, the giant of the tech sector, had to admit it barely improved its diversity admitting the company remains mostly made up of white men.  

Apple efforts face an uphill battle since the even the board of directors seem to resisting diversity efforts.  Apple’s board voted down a proposal to increase the diversity of its board and senior management. The board described the proposal as “unduly burdensome and not necessary.” Apple’s board held up its ongoing scholarship programs for black students that provides 114 under-served U.S. schools with Apple products, and its sponsorship of the Grace Hopper conference for women in technology as evidence of its diversity efforts.

 

Silicon Valley Cash? Not for Blacks and Women

courtesy: imagerymajestic

courtesy: imagerymajestic

Silicon Valley is a white male dominated world. Is America’s womb of technology struggling to find people of color to add to the mix or simply rejecting them?  There are probably plenty of answers to that question depending on who you ask. Some of the valley’s biggest and best known companies are at least trying to bring color to the white world of technology.

One of the companies trying to step up to the diversity challenge is Intel Corporation. In an effort to boost diversity in IT, Intel Capital has launched a $125 million investment program aimed at startups run by women and under-represented minorities. This in addition to a seperate investment program of $300 million announced last January with the stated goal of bringing more women and minorities into its workforce by 2020.

Intel has plans to change its capital investment program to make it more accessible for women and minorities. The world’s largest chip maker wants to be more open and responsive to funding requests from startups run by women and minorities. Intel has also established an advisory board of senior Intel employees to help make funding decisions.

Apple, the most successful company in history, is donating more than $50 million to organizations that intend to get more women, minorities, and veterans working in tech.

Apple’s chief of human resources, Denise Young Smith, granted an exclusive interview to Fortune magazine. In the interview Young Smith said that Apple is joining forces with non-profit organizations in a multi-year, multi-million-dollar effort to increase the number of women, minorities, and veterans in the technology industry and at Apple.

“We wanted to create opportunities for minority candidates to get their first job at Apple,” said Young Smith. “There is a tremendous upside to that and we are dogged about the fact that we can’t innovate without being diverse and inclusive.”

Apple’s efforts include a partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a non-profit supporting students enrolled in public, historically black colleges and universities or HBCUs. In total there are 100 HBCUs in the U.S of which 47 are considered public  graduating 20 percent of African-Americans who earn undergraduate degrees.

Diversity is a big issue with Apple CEO Tim Cook who see’s diversity as a vital ingredient to the future of the company. “I think the most diverse group will produce the best product, I firmly believe that.”

Other companies that are pumping money into diversity efforts include AOL which launched the $10 million BBG Fund. The fund will focus on women-led Internet startups. Cable giant Comcast venture fund, Comcast Ventures, launched the $20 million Catalyst fund in 2011 to invest in companies led by women and members of minority groups.

But there are some that believe that investing in minority owned start ups just because they are a minority is not the best approach. Some black entreprenuers are asking that investment be made in minority start ups because its good business.”The more people who think this is an obligation, a social obligation, that’s probably not a good thing,” said Hamet Watt, a venture partner at Upfront Ventures.

The problem is pretty basic and straightforward, white venture capitalists are not interested in female or minority led start ups. White men make up the overwhelming majority of venture capitalists. The National Venture Capital Association/Dow Jones VentureSource reported that 89 percent of VC Partners are men, specifically white men who made up 76 percent.  A study of all VC Partners showed that just 10 percent identified as Asian, 1 percent as African-American, and less than 1 percent as Latino.  In 2014 total VC capital investment reached $48 billion the highest total in over ten years. 

It is a sad fact that there is clear prejudice against companies founded or led by women and minorities. A  2010 study conducted by CB Insights  focused on the disparity of venture capital funding for companies founded by minorities and women as compared to companies founded by whites.

The results revealed that less than 1 percent of venture-capital-backed company founders were black and 12 percent were Asian, 83 percent had a racial composition that was completely white.

In the report preface CB Insights writes:

“When we ask venture capitalists what gets them excited about the young, emerging, and often unproven companies in which they invest, we never hear about deals and dollars. Rather, the first answer is frequently ‘the team’ or ‘the founders’. This demonstrates just how crucial human capital is in VC (venture capital) investment decision-making.”

To translate that statement it simply says race and gender makes a difference when it comes to who gets the money in Silicon Valley.

Of the $1.92 billion invested in March of 2014,

  • Companies led and made up of whites received 61 percent of the total investments, which equates to $1.41 billion.
  • Asian-led companies recieved a 17 percent share of investments at slightly more than $383 million.
  •  Latin American and Middle Eastern led companies took in $460 million, or 18 percent.
  • Mixed-race leadership teams received $96 million in investments, or 4 percent.
  • African-American led companies recieved the lowest share of investments. Only one black company recieved capital funding in the time period studied and that totaled a paltry $1.9 million. (Source: CB Insights)

Because of this glaring prejudice many black entreprenuers are faced with unfair pressure to back black owned start ups.

Charles Hudson, a partner at SoftTech VC, said he feels like he has to make himself accessible to African-American entrepreneurs.

“I also feel a certain pressure to try to help African-American entrepreneurs who I think are talented not work on terrible ideas,” Hudson said. “It’s not that they’re terrible ideas in general, it’s just that they’re not appropriate for venture. To me, that’s not unique to African-Americans.”

Hudson admitted to feeling “an enormous amount of pressure backing an African-American entrepreneur.”

“Pursuing an African-American business, for whatever reason if that investment doesn’t work, the buck stops with me,” Hudson said. “You realize that for whatever reason that investment’s failure is likely to be scrutinized to a greater degree than that SaaS company that didn’t work out. And I think about that. I wish I didn’t have to think about that.”

But the complexion of Silicon Valley is changing make no mistake about that. More and more black athletes like Floyd Mayweather and hip-hop artists are bringing their money into the technology start up game. Black athletes are also taking seats on the board of major technology companies. Most recently Magic Johnson took a seat on the board of directors of Square. The payment start up company is preparing to go public this year.

Now you know

 

 

 

 

 

Blacks in Technology

Ask anyone who knows  and they will tell you that black people are difficult to find in the technology industry. Silicon Valley has a color problem and its really no secret. But there are blacks in technology. 

As matter of fact Wayne Sutton, formerly of  NewMe accelerator and founder of PitchTo, believes African-Americans all over the nation are active in the technology industry. The problem is that no one knows or have heard about them.

Businessinsider.com published a 2013 article highlighting the most influential black people in the technology industry. These black men and women are thriving in the heart of the technology industry in many various roles. We need to know who they are and what they are doing.

You may ask why? Because even though we are under-represented black people are present in the technology industry. And because we are present we have an influence on whats happening. And technology is whats happening, make no mistake about that. 

According to Inquirer.net Apple Computer, the sweetheart of Silicon Valley, employs mostly white and Asian men. The website reports that Apple Computer employees  are made up of 54% white males and 23% Asian men making on average $100,000 annually. Currently 80% of Apples employees worldwide are men. In their defense most major technology companies do not hide or deny the problem.

Google, the worlds most powerful search engine, released its employee diversity numbers  last week.The numbers clearly indicate the seriousness of the problem. The Google report revealed only 30% of the company’s employees globally are women. Only 35% in the United States are non-white. Asians make up 30% of non-whites at the company.

Silicon Valley management positions are nearly devoid of minorities and women. Wayne has written about the problem of gender imbalance in his Wall Street Journal Blog.   Wayne stated; “Three words keep coming to my mind as I think about why there is a gender imbalance: money, power and respect.”  

But as I have said before its not always the technology company’s fault. Blacks and minorities suffer the curse of not coming prepared for the jobs the technology industry offers.  And who’s fault is that? There are few African-Americans in college majoring in IT or computer or software engineering.

According to a 2013 New York Times Report nearly one half of the nation’s workforce are women. Unfortunately they take up only 26% of science, technology, engineering or math jobs according to the U.S. Census Bureau. African-Americans make up  just 11% of the workforce but hold only 6%  of technology jobs. Hispanics are 15 % of the work force but are only 7 % of the technology work force.  Women and minorities have made progress in science and math in the last several decades. But this progress has been slow. In the technology sector and the rapidly growing field of computer science, women’s slice of the pie has actually shrunk in the past 20 years, while other  minorities saw only small gains.

The question remains; how will this issue be addressed? The website Thinkprogress.org has an interesting article outlining some possible solutions to making the nations technology heart a little more colorful.

The African-American Cyber Report believes that technology is taking a greater and greater role in the life of black people. And we need to find our place in the technology industry. But that does not mean that we are always welcome. There has been some talk of discrimination in the great Silicon Valley. We have to fight for our place at the table and the the technology industry is no different. Black people can only take our place in the technology industry if we prepare ourselves. So if we are not educating our children to take their place in the technology field we can’t expect things to change. Can we?

Now you know.