The killing of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter uprisings have challenged the tech community to step up its efforts against racism. It’s no secret that the tech industry has, for years, struggled with diversity, pay inequality, and discrimination across both its workforce and platforms. At the same time, today’s tech industry is built upon a long legacy of innovation and progress.
We at sf.citi are hopeful that tech workers—and the industry at large—will continue to use their ingenuity and innovation to resist racism and champion inclusivity. As a starting point, sf.citi has listed three actions tech workers can take right now to promote racial equity in and outside of their companies.
START AND SUPPORT BLACK EMPLOYEE RESOURCE GROUPS (ERG)
Over the last decade, employee resource groups, or ERGs, have become a staple of many companies. ERGs are employer-recognized groups of employees who share a common identity, such as race, gender, and nationality.
In a relevant nod to their history, ERGs have since become powerful levers of company reform, especially around racism and workplace discrimination. Earlier this month, Airbnb’s Black@ ERG created an Activism & Allyship Guide that was shared with the entire Airbnb host and guest community. Twitter Blackbirds, meanwhile, curated a list of mental health resources for those fighting for racial justice, as well as a collection of Black Lives Matter resources.
If you already have a Black ERG at your company, make sure to attend their events and support their work. If your company does not have a Black ERG, here are some useful steps for starting one.
DONATE RESOURCES AND SKILLS TO TECH-FOCUSED NONPROFITS
One of the best ways to develop a more diverse and inclusive tech workforce is by ensuring as many people as possible have the necessary skills to work in tech. Here in San Francisco, neighborhoods that historically house communities of color—Bayview Hunters Point, Crocker Amazon, Fillmore, Visitacion Valley, and the Tenderloin—also suffer from significantly lower rates of technology use at home than the rest of the City. Luckily, there are a number of local nonprofits that specialize in providing underrepresented communities with tech-focused training, resources, and skills. We’ve listed three below.
- Black Girls CODE
Founded in 2011, Black Girls CODE hosts workshops and after-school programs to teach girls of color the basics of programming and inspire a love for technology. The ultimate goal of Black Girls CODE is to train 1 million girls by 2040.
- Code Tenderloin
Code Tenderloin focuses on removing barriers to long-term employment for marginal populations living in and around San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. Founded in 2015, Code Tenderloin offers free, volunteer-led job readiness programs that teach both hard and soft skills. The organization also helps its clients find housing and enroll in the Public Defender’s Clean Slate Program to expunge criminal records.
Founded in 2017, Dev/Mission is working to close the tech gap by providing young adults from diverse communities with the necessary training and support to pursue a career in tech. Dev/Mission offers a unique curriculum to develop hardware and coding skills among young adults ages 16-24. The organization also connects its students with apprenticeship and internship opportunities.
If you are a Bay Area tech worker, consider donating your resources and your expertise to these organizations working to build a more inclusive tech talent pool.
VOTE: LOCAL MATTERS!
There’s a myth that tech workers don’t vote. Let this be a myth no more! Voting is the ultimate expression of democratic power and accountability. The spotlight on police brutality has prompted many people to take a much closer look at their city budget and learn the names of their local elected officials.
We at sf.citi welcome this scrutiny of local government. And we hope you act on it by voting all the way down the ballot during the 2020 Presidential election and many elections thereafter. As we’ve written before, San Francisco is notorious for sending a lot of measures to the ballot. You can make some pretty fundamental changes to the City by weighing in on local ballot measures and candidate races. With that being said, below are a few voting essentials.
- Register to vote! If you are not already registered to vote in California, you can do so here. The deadline to register for the 2020 Presidential election is October 19!
- Check for changes to voting due to COVID-19. In California, registered voters will automatically receive a vote-by-mail ballot ahead of the election to maximize voter participation and safety. sf.citi walks you through other voting changes caused by COVID-19 in one of our policy pieces—you can also listen to our discussion with California Secretary of State Alex Padilla for more information.
- Study up on local ballot measures and candidate races. Six of San Francisco’s 11 Supervisor seats will be up for election in November 2020. Make sure to follow the race in your district. You can also expect a host of significant ballot measures at both the state and City level. Stay tuned for sf.citi’s November 2020 voter guide, which will include details about each of the San Francisco ballot measures. In the meantime, subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with the latest San Francisco election news.
Have other ideas for ways tech workers can combat racism? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We will share your wisdom with our community in a future sf.citi newsletter.