Celebrating Inclusive Tech & White House Demo Day

Momentum behind improving the tech community’s diversity and inclusivity is stronger than ever. And it needs to be - the current numbers are striking:

  • At seven Silicon Valley companies that have released staffing numbers, and average of just 2 percent of technology workers are black and just 3 percent are Hispanic.
  • Women represent fewer than 13 percent of employed engineers and 3 percent of startups founders.

Though most companies admit to a diversity problem, the startups and entrepreneurs who are successfully creating an inclusive environment and combating stereotypes have gone largely unnoticed, and their best practices are not being widely replicated. The White House seized this moment to host its first ever Demo Day under the theme of inclusive entrepreneurship, showcasing a diverse set of 50 entrepreneurs. Attendees represented a range of technologies, from new kinds of search engines to apps that utilize military base information and startups improving foreign language education.

Additionally, many larger companies and organizations announced tangible commitments to develop a more diverse and inclusive workforce and talent pipeline. Highlights from the announcements can be found below. More details, including the companies and individuals involved, can be found in the official press release.

To continue this important conversation, Engine hosted a reception with CEA and Google following the White House events. It gave Demo Day attendees and supporters the chance to talk further about their work to diversify tech, and better understand what part everyone is playing. Attendees engaged in detailed conversations about the road to entrepreneurship, what it means to be a minority seeking funding, and, more generally, the policies that affect new, small businesses. In attendance, among others, were Demo Day honorees Pinterest, FoodTrace, and Millennial Trains Project.

The Administration announcements:

  • Announcing 116 winners of two Small Business Administration prizes that promise to unleash entrepreneurship in communities across the country: the Growth Accelerator Fund for startup accelerators, incubators, and other entrepreneurial ecosystems; and the President’s “Startup in a Day” initiative that will empower mayors to cut red tape for local entrepreneurs.
  • Scaling up the National Science Foundation I-Corps program with eight new and expanded Federal agency partnerships, introducing hundreds of entrepreneurial scientist teams across the country to a rigorous process for moving their discoveries out of the lab and into the marketplace.

The independent commitments:

  • Expanding the response to the President’s TechHire initiative with 10 new cities and states working with employer partners on new ways to recruit and place applicants based on their skills, create more accelerated tech training opportunities, and invest in innovative placement programs to connect trained workers with entrepreneurial opportunities and well-paying jobs.
  • Over 40 leading venture capital firms with over $100 billion under management, including Andreessen Horowitz, Intel Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, and Scale Venture Partners, committing to specific actions that advance opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
  • Institutional investors committing over $11 billion to emerging managers, including CalPERS and the New York City Pension Funds.
  • Over 100 engineering deans committing to attract and retain a diverse student body, building the pipeline for the next generation of American engineers and entrepreneurs.
  • Over a dozen major technology companies announcing new actions to ensure diverse recruitment and hiring, including Amazon, Box, Microsoft, Xerox, and others committing to adopt variations on the “Rooney Rule” to consider diverse candidates for senior executive positions.