Like any decent researcher, I started prepping for this article by gathering data to show the problem: that a lack of diversity plagues technology companies and startups in the Triangle and across the country.
But the truth is, you’ve seen that data. You don’t need to see another infographic to know that there are far too few women and people of color working in startups, founding companies, and sitting in their executive suites or boardrooms—you’ve already seen what that looks like in person. Nor do you need proof of the abysmal number of female and minority venture capitalists and angel investors in the field because you’ve noticed the lack of diversity when you’ve interacted with them.
- Code2040 picks Entrepreneur-in-Rersidence for Triangle
You’ve also seen the data on the benefits of improving diversity in our workforce—more diverse companies outperform those which are not diverse. You’ve heard the US is becoming more diverse even if our technology workforce isn’t, and the economists voice their concerns about the issues that arise when such a large part of the population is left out of the tech sector. Chiefly, if we continue at this rate, there will not be enough talent to fill the inevitable vacancies the baby boomers will leave when they retire, much less to keep up with the new jobs startups and tech companies create.
With all this data, why is the diversity problem still a problem?
The truth is, I don’t know. But I have two theories. First, the diversity problem is multi-faceted and has been created by a multitude of factors over the years. In other words it’s hard and takes multiple players from both sides—the unrepresented minority and the overrepresented majority—who are dedicated to working towards change for things to actually change. And second, diversity or the lack thereof has been discussed so much that it’s almost been reduced to a buzzword or a trend, which results in lack-luster responses to the problem, and programs with reduced efficacy.
But diversity isn’t a buzzword or a trend. And just because it is hard to overcome, doesn’t mean we should shy away from tackling the issue.
Here in the Triangle, American Underground is rejecting the rhetoric and stepping up to the challenge to create a more diverse startup ecosystem on its campuses and throughout the Triangle at large through a new partnership with CODE2040 and Google for Entrepreneurs. The program, called the CODE2040 residency, is intended to find new ways to embrace, promote and sustain diversity within the tech hub and its member companies with help from an entrepreneur in residence (EIR) who is also dedicated to changing the diversity equation.
That EIR is Talib Graves-Manns and his mission is to “examine the existing eco-system and provide ways to complement and enhance that work through lenses that include those who are traditionally underrepresented.”
To find out more about the man, the kids entertainment startup he co-founded—RainbowMe—and American Underground’s goals for the EIR program (including two big upcoming events), I recently caught up with Graves-Manns, Jason Towns from CODE2040, and the American Underground team.
So what’s he have to say? Read the full report at ExitEvent: http://exitevent.com/article/building-the-most-diverse-tech-hub-150409
Note: ExitEvent is a news partner of WRAL TechWire. Both operations are part of Capitol Broadcasting.