The Upload: Intel Boosts Blacks in Tech

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In a watershed moment for the industry, Intel’s CEO, Brian Krzanich, announced an initiative to invest $300 million to increase technology diversity by the year 2020. As you might recall, the number of underrepresented minorities in technology is an abysmal figure. But according to the Leveling the Playing Field Institute, by 2020, there will be 1.4 million new technology jobs and at the current rate, 70% of them will go unfilled by our current collegiate and university system. But if Blacks comprise less than 5% of most of the tech firms, a considerable amount of work is immediately needed to make sure that our community can take advantage of a glut of career opportunities.

With technology jobs being the fastest growing industry, it will take a herculean effort to close the opportunity divide. In fact, Reverend Jesse Jackson pushed all of the technology companies to reveal their diversity numbers, and through his efforts, the tech community was able to see the lack of women and underrepresented minorities as contributors to the innovation economy.

Intel is leading by example by putting an aggressive strategy to closing the gap. For organizations like ours, YesWeCode, and others like Silicon Harlem, this is incredible news. Many organizations have the infrastructure and the engagement to work with students of all ages, but lack the capital to scale the impact.

In order to maximize the impact, several things have to concurrently take place. For one, the tech firms need accountability to ensure fair and equitable hiring practices for jobs and internships. From the Leveling the Playing Field Institute, only half of the black computer science graduates end up working in a field using their degree. Intel’s CEO stated their senior management will be evaluated on their ability to increase diversity numbers. The second thing that needs to happen to maximize impact is to target K-12 students through schools, afterschool programs, contests, and competitions.

We’ll keep you updated on the progress as this unfolds, but this is an exciting opportunity for a funding stream to the ecosystem. Let’s hope several other firms follow suit and lead by example, not just with rhetoric, but also with capital that is solely needed to impact communities and close the opportunity divide.

About Emile Cambry

Emile Cambry Jr. is the founder and CEO of BLUE1647, a technology and entrepreneurship incubator focused on professional development, workforce development, and business acceleration. Emile was recognized as Crains Chicago Tech 50 in 2014 and was appointed to the first-ever Technology Diversity Council for the City of Chicago and is the STEM Chairman to the 2nd District of Illinois.