With Facebook’s recent privacy data scandal encouraging more conversations about regulation in the tech industry, Black lawmakers are hoping for more regulation when it comes to diversity.
Senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) made a trip to Silicon Valley to talk shop Tuesday, specifically seeking remedies for boosting the underrepresentation of African Americans in tech. Democratic California Reps. Maxine Waters and Barbara Lee, as well as Democrats Gregory Meeks (NY) and G.K. Butterfield (NC), questioned exactly why the tech industry has moved at a snail-like pace to improve parity.
Auntie Maxine snatched some wigs, given that African Americans are a measly 5 percent of those employed across Apple, Twitter and other Silicon companies, Axios reported. Here’s the trio of proposals by Waters and company:
- Hold tech companies with government contracts to federal diversity rules: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recommends several guidelines for ensuring diversity, starting with the hiring process and including no discriminatory job advertisements or recruit screenings.
- Require the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to collect more data on the tech industry, not only about the breakdown of employee populations but also about salary, promotion and investments: The percentage of African-American tech industry workers decreased from 9 to 7.7 percent from 2007 to 2015, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office study published last November. Much of the publicly available EEOC racial statistics, however, tracked the number of African Americans in the high tech sector: 7.4 percent of Blacks comprised the high tech sector. More specific tech data would further transparency and accountability efforts, as well as help track whether African Americans had equal pay, access to executive positions and more parity across several different companies.
- Expand the principles of the Community Reinvestment Act, which requires financial institutions to meet the needs of lower-income communities, to cover the tech industry: It’s hard not to notice that Silicon Valley is also home to thousands of lower-income families and children. Banks and Silicon Valley companies are seemingly missing out on ample opportunities to assist these communities with public works projects, or by helping promising individuals create startups or build the talent ranks within the industry.
“In addition to growing diversity in the tech workforce, we’re encouraging Silicon Valley companies to empower Black small businesses and create wealth in African-American communities,” Lee said.
CBC members want to send a message: The White-only, male-only hegemonic structure isn’t going to fly. The glass ceiling over people of color has to go.