In the United States, Black, Latinx, and Native American women make up 18% of our population. However, this same group represents only 4% of computing degree recipients. And in an industry that relies so heavily on the holding of degrees and training certificates, these statistics create a major hiring gap for women of color in tech-focused careers.
The Reboot Representation Tech Coalition, a partnership of 17 companies working together to improve representation in the technology industry, aims to increase the number of Black, Latinx, and Native American women employed in tech. This September, Cognizant U.S. Foundation became the next member of the Coalition with a $1.5 million grant–the first step in the Foundation’s announced $5 million commitment to communities of color.
“Companies are making headway in diversifying their workforces, but these blanket efforts often fail to significantly impact the hiring of underrepresented women of color into technical roles,” said Reboot Representation’s CEO, Dwana Franklin-Davis. “The Cognizant U.S. Foundation has been a leader in funding careers in technology for communities across the U.S. We’re excited to work with the Foundation to address the barriers that Black, Latinx, and Native American women face in attaining computer science degrees and tech careers.”
Launched in 2018, the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition draws its mission from research findings and actionable recommendations compiled by McKinsey & Company and Pivotal Ventures, Melinda Gates’ investment and incubation launchpad.
In Rebooting Representation: Using CSR and philanthropy to close the gender gap in technology, the report contributors examine the shortcomings of the tech sector, focusing on the opportunity inherent in elevating women of color within the industry. However, the report doesn’t just focus on what’s broken in the industry, but also on what can make progress–and already has–toward true equity in the tech sphere.
The report encourages tech companies to examine their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate philanthropy policies. While CSR and philanthropy policies are a great starting point, the report finds that most companies do not put a specific focus on women in these programs, let alone on women and girls of color.
The goal is to encourage companies to focus more resources on women of color–as of 2017, less than 0.1 percent of philanthropic giving focused on reaching underrepresented women and girls of color specifically.
The report suggests a few methods of improving CSR and philanthropy policies to focus on women and girls of color:
- Unite the company’s initiatives and goals under a single overarching strategy that commits to gender diversity in tech.
- Designate a senior executive sponsor for CSR and philanthropy policies, specifically someone who can give oversight to programs devoted to diversity and representation.
- Measure the impact of these CSR and philanthropy activities once they’re in action, and continue to make changes that improve their efficiency and impact.
By urging tech companies to put a gender lens on their CSR and philanthropy policies, the creators of the report hope to work toward a future where the actual representation of women in tech more accurately reflects the true makeup of American society.
Cognizant U.S. Foundation joins the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition as its seventeenth member company. Also at the Executive Membership level are Adobe, BNY Mellon, Dell, F5, Intel, Microsoft, Riot Games, Salesforce, Verizon, and Walmart. Additional support comes from the Coalition’s General Members: Amazon, Applied Materials, Best Buy, LinkedIn, Qualcomm, and Norton LifeLock. Since its launch in 2018, the Coalition has pledged a total of $18 million toward advancing women in tech.
“We’ve long recognized the importance of supporting women in technology, but the numbers speak for themselves—we have to address barriers for women of color,” said Kristen Titus, Executive Director of the Cognizant U.S. Foundation. “Today’s investment in Reboot Representation is the latest in our long-standing work to advance education, training, and career opportunities for underrepresented communities across the U.S.”
This new source of funding is another exciting step toward equal representation in tech. It’s encouraging to see participation from seventeen member organizations, with such big names as Dell and Intel making genuine commitments to women in tech. With more programs like Reboot Representation, we can continue to invest today in the hiring pools we draw from tomorrow.
About Cognizant U.S. Foundation: The Cognizant U.S. Foundation is a 501(c)(3) private foundation supporting STEM education and skills training across the U.S. Launched in 2018 with an initial $100 million investment from Cognizant, the Foundation has since awarded $40 million to organizations working to educate and train the next generation of workers in communities throughout the U.S.
About Reboot Representation: Reboot Representation is a coalition of leading tech companies working to double the number of Black, Latinx, and Native American women receiving computing degrees by 2025. We see significant potential in using the tech sector’s collective resources to make targeted, philanthropic investments in the often overlooked programs and institutions that make educations and careers in computing more equitable for underrepresented women of color. Launched in 2018, the Coalition has pledged a total of $18 million toward its mission.
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