Under the Dome

Congressional Black Caucus starts new drive to diversify the tech sector

The Congressional Black Caucus this month kicked off a new effort to boost the number of African-Americans working in the tech industry.

“America has yet to unlock the full potential of innovation because of the lack of African American representation in the technology industry,” Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a North Carolina Democrat and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said at the CBC Tech 2020 launch in Washington.

Google’s first diversity report, released last May, showed that only 2 percent of the company’s workers were black, and that its workforce was heavily white (61 percent) and male (70 percent).

The company said when it released the report that it had a long way to go on diversity, and that going public with the numbers was part of an effort to “recruit and develop the world’s most talented and diverse people.”

Other diversity reports from the tech sector followed in 2014, showing, for example, that African Americans make up 2 percent of U.S. employees at Facebook, 1 percent of tech jobs at Twitter, and 2 percent of employees at Yahoo.

“We are confident that if the industry uses the same entrepreneurial spirit it used to make America the leader in innovation, tech companies can certainly implement innovative approaches to African American inclusion,” Butterfield said at the event.

The Wilson, N.C., lawmaker said that there were many qualified African Americans with degrees in marketing, engineering, accounting, law and computer science who were ready to go to work in the tech sector.

He asked the tech company representatives at the meeting and others watching the event streamed on the Internet to take the “2020 Tech Pledge” on the new tech page of the Congressional Black Caucus web site, promising to hire more African Americans.

Butterfield said a first step would be for tech companies to host job fairs in “targeted CBC member districts to recruit people where they are.”