Boosting diversity at tech firms to be a focus at Rainbow PUSH summit

SHARE Boosting diversity at tech firms to be a focus at Rainbow PUSH summit

The Rev. Jesse Jackson will focus in part on increasing diversity at the world’s biggest technology companies at the 18th annual Rainbow PUSH Wall Street Project Economic Summit, which kicks off in New York on Tuesday.

Increasing opportunities for minority- and women-owned investment firms will also be among issues tackled at the three-day conference, Jackson said.

Intel Chief Executive Officer Brian Krzanich and Jackson will discuss a major new Intel diversity initiative, which has a goal of having its U.S. work force mirror the face of America by 2020, in essence achieving full representation of women and under-represented minorities at the tech giant.

The Intel initiative, unveiled at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, includes a $300 million commitment over the next five years to help the company and the industry become more diverse.

PUSH has encouraged tech companies to publicize their work force diversity data, which some did for the first time last year, displaying a poor record for the industry. Intel has long released its data.

PUSH released a survey in October of 20 big technology companies that showed there were just three blacks and one Hispanic among some 189 board members at the companies.

PUSH has been working to partner with the industry to bring about diversity improvements. Jackson last month met privately with Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft; and Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, as well as Krzanich. PUSH plans to seek meetings with CEOs and corporate leadership at other technology companies.

Jackson called the Intel initiative a game changer with the potential to fundamentally transform the diversity and inclusion landscape in the technology industry. He contended others in the industry should join the parity pledge.

Among initiatives that can expand diversity in the industry he said are creating pipelines for historically black colleges to Silicon Valley and providing funding for business incubator programs and start-ups. He added PUSH is also encouraging the use of minority- and women-owned financial, legal and professional services firms by the industry.

This is “the first major breakthrough,” he said of the Intel effort, adding given the global size of the technology industry, minorities “can ill afford to be blocked out of it. We have something to offer. We represent market, money, talent.”

The summit will include the release of a report on the challenges minority- and women-owned firms in the asset management industry face. The industry is among the most profitable in the financial services sector, with record-breaking global profits of $93 billion in 2013, according to PUSH. But of $36 trillion in assets under management in the U.S., Black Enterprise magazine’s top 15 investment firms managed only 0.3 percent of that, or $118.4 billion, PUSH said.

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