It is no secret that the tech world has something of an image problem when it comes to the workforce that it employs. Mostly young, well-off white men pass through the doors on the way to Silicon Valley, having been to elite higher education institutions and benefiting from an ingrained culture of bias. Women and ethnic minorities are mostly under-represented, something that has caused considerable chagrin among many communities.
The various tech giants of the valley and beyond are well aware of this problem however, and are taking baby steps to fix them, even if in a somewhat haphazard manner. Microsoft, in the latest example of this wave of social justice campaigning, has met with Jesse Jackson in Seattle to talk more about solutions to the problem.
Jackson, who was in Seattle on a tour promoting the need for high tech jobs for minorities, met with Satya Nadella and other Microsoft executives to discuss the issue in greater detail. He also spoke to Microsoft company shareholders at an event in Bellevue, at the invitation of Redmond.
According to official figures, Microsoft’s employee base is 71% male and 61% white. In an interview, Jackson praised Microsoft for being more open to change than its competitors in the region, especially Amazon, which was singled out for not disclosing figures on the makeup of its workforce.
Jackson went on to state, “You’ve got a society — white, black and brown, have and have not — such splits undermine the premise of democracy. We must democratize the economy. If Microsoft, Amazon, Oracle or Groupon, if they’re [growing], the workers should benefit from it. That’s democracy at its best”.
What the effects of this meeting will be in the long term cannot yet be ascertained, what is certain however is that certain sectors of the tech industry recognize the problems inherent in their line of business and are moving to improve the situation somewhat, even if slowly.
Do you believe this will lead to further positive change? Let us know in the comments below.