Youth tech opportunities are pivotal to the growth of our society. At Blerd we are committed to diversity, inclusion, and representation. A Harvard Business Review study showed that diverse teams lead to higher creativity and a McKinsey study showed that diversity ultimately leads to higher revenues.
Black men and women are drastically underrepresented in tech. According to TechRepublic, 83% of tech executives are white, with African Americans representing only 2% to 5.3% of executives. It takes time to drive change, but unfair treatment of black employees causes asymmetrical turnover in technology, making it even harder for them to climb to executive positions. Members of the Blerd team have worked in corporate environments and tech, seeing this play out over and over again.
Technology companies are struggling to hire black employees. While black content creators and social influencers are known to move brands in the tech space (just look at #blacktwitter). Popeyes wass recently reported to generate $23 Million dollars of hype, largely influenced by black creators utilizing tech. While we are utilizing all this technology heavily, we are not as influential in creating it as shown by the numbers.
- Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
- Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
- Companies in the bottom quartile both for gender and for ethnicity and race are statistically less likely to achieve above-average financial returns than the average companies in the data set (that is, bottom-quartile companies are lagging rather than merely not leading).
- In the United States, there is a linear relationship between racial and ethnic diversity and better financial performance: for every 10 percent increase in racial and ethnic diversity on the senior-executive team, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rise 0.8 percent.
via McKinsey & Company
Youth tech opportunities are so important because ultimately they will be the largest drivers of moving representation forward in technology. A recent initiative geared towards this put a smile on my face. One of the NBA’s best, most expressive, and fashion forward players, Russell Westbrook is partnering with the LA Conservation Corps and philanthropist Chad Brownstein to create the Westbrook/Brownstein Green Tech Program in Los Angeles. This initiative is geared towards getting at-risk, inner city youth off the streets of L.A. and into the classroom to gain interest in the tech industry.
I feel like this particular program actually impacts the kids’ futures, impacts their mind, the mentality of where they grew up, where they’re from
I definitely can relate to that because I feel like I was one of those kids growing up in the city of Los Angeles and finding my way, figuring out what was the best path for meRussell Westbrook via People
Westbrook says the program will train students in advanced careers such as coding, computer literacy and computer engineering. The initiative will also introduce students to the world of robotics, 3-D printing and drone piloting.
Being classified as an at-risk youth in America puts you behind the curve in life. Getting ahead of that proverbial curve is not even an option as you are focused on trying to survive on a daily basis. I could have never imagined living this reality in my youth but I had quite a few experiences as a child that exposed me to this.
A WalletHub report on at-risk adolescent behavior states, when youth are raised in environments without positive role models and financial security they are at risk for poverty, early pregnancy and violence in their adolescence all the way through their adulthood. That’s why great mentorship and opportunities focused on these at-risk youth groups are vital.
Our responsibility to one another is to empower those who feel weak and insignificant. In the eloquent words of the late, great, Toni Morrison:
When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real
job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to
empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game. Toni Morrison
Truer words have never been spoken. Rest Easy Queen