Silicon Valley has long been the bastion of innovative leadership when it comes to technology.
One constant remains with its forerunners, however, they all seem to be predominantly white and male.
Only 20% of the TIME Tech 40: The Most Influential Minds in Tech were women, and less than 5% were people of colour. The racial and gender divides which are present in many tech companies are changing, but not fast enough for some Silicon Valley giants.
Learn Capital, Obvious Ventures, Acumen and Kapor Capital, a range of leading entrepreneurial investment, company development and socially responsible organizations, are working alongside Learners Guild to push for a more diverse tech landscape.
In an interview with CNET, founder of Kapor Capital Mitch Kapor addressed the issue;
“The companies in Silicon Valley think of themselves as meritocracies, but they’re “mirror-tocracies, where people tend to hire people who look like themselves. Learners Guild has removed many of the traditional barriers to acquiring the skills one needs to become a developer at a technology company, and in so doing, creates opportunity for people of all backgrounds.”
A previous investigative report by the tech site also discovered that less than 30% of the workforce in the major tech companies are female.
Learner’s Guild have initiated a range of incentive schemes and programmes which help people from all backgrounds attain the necessary training and preparation which they may need to enter into the tech world.
“We really wanted to remove the barrier for folks,” president of Learners Guild, Ian Inaba, told CNET. “The common thread for people enrolling in the program is that the current on-ramp into technology hasn’t worked for them.”
Their programmes have since helped a huge range of students, from all manner of backgrounds, get a new start in their careers; ones which may not have been previously available to them.
Vishal Vasishth of Obvious Ventures concluded that;
“If students aren’t trained to take on the jobs of today and develop adaptable skills for the jobs of tomorrow, these graduates and our businesses — as well as civil society more broadly — will all suffer. The Learners Guild helps people take advantage of the unmet demand for over 1.4 million software engineering jobs that are being created in the next four years.”
This isn’t the first time that this problem has been addressed. The New Yorker ran an extensive feature a few months ago entitled ‘Why can’t Silicon Valley solve its diversity problem?‘. Hopefully, with programmes such as the one being launched by these companies, it may not be a problem for too much longer.