In a groundbreaking blog post last week, Laszlo Block, Google’s SVP of People Operations, published the tech firm’s workforce by gender and ethnicity. A considerable step for corporate transparency in its own right, the published data reinforces that one of the tech sector’s largest players is overwhelmingly white and male. The under-representation of women and minorities in tech isn’t limited to Google, and it poses a challenge for equal opportunity for the United States’ diverse population.
Beyond questions of equality, though, a lack of diversity also presents a business challenge. Innovation is more dynamic when different kinds of people bring different needs, strategies and perspectives to the table. This is particularly true in New York, a city built on diversity and, increasingly, on technology.
A recent report led by the Association for a Better New York (ABNY) finds that tech in New York is no longer a distinct sector, but instead is infused throughout the city’s economy — forming what the report calls a “tech ecosystem.” The report found this ecosystem grew by 18 percent from 2003 to 2013, helping contribute to New York’s economic growth and employing hundreds of thousands of people. As it continues to grow, realizing its full potential will require greater participation by traditionally under-represented groups, including minorities and women.
Last night, Edelman and ABNY hosted a panel featuring four women leading New York’s tech-driven transformation. Together with moderator Manoush Zomorodi of WNYC, Jalak Jobanputra (founder and managing partner at FuturePerfect Ventures), Reshma Saujani (founder and CEO of Girls Who Code), Jessica Singleton (New York City Digital Director for Mayor Bill de Blasio), and Marissa Shorenstein (president of AT&T in New York) explored how to better integrate women into the city’s evolving economy.
All four panelists are pushing for the kind of educational and policy changes that will equip a diverse workforce to compete in the new economy. As a center of learning, innovation and economic activity, New York should be leading this trend.