Diversity–a necessary business decision in Silicon Valley

Last week, California legislators vowed to renew their commitment to diversify the technology industry, from company boards to specialized technical roles.

Several legislative groups, including the Black, Latino, Women’s and Asian Pacific Islander Caucuses, met with Silicon Valley executives to discuss current diversity efforts.

The session was led by TechNet and hosted by PayPal; included among summit attendees were top executives representing Uber, Lyft, General Motors, ChargePoint, SunRun, Bloom Energy, Instacart, AirBnB, Google, and Apple.

During the session, all in attendance agreed to be more transparent in their diversity efforts and agreed to work with the Legislature in their efforts to diversify their boards. The summit not only allowed for communication from industry to the legislature, but assisted an exchange of ideas among the companies.

During the session, a number of legislators who participated in the session expressed strong opinions. “Our great state is blessed with an increasingly diverse and experienced workforce—that is a key reason why California is so attractive to companies in all industries—particularly the high-tech community,” said Senator Ben Hueso, California Latino Legislative Caucus chair (SD-40). “As has always been the case, the Latino Caucus will work collaboratively with all policy makers and business leaders to enhance employee diversity through common sense solutions.”

“The technology industry must address the lack of women—especially women of color—at every level by being leaders in creating opportunities that promote gender equality,” said Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (AD – 58), Chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus. “Diversity is good for business and the talent is here now if space is created and women’s contributions are fostered.”

“Silicon Valley and our tech industry have work to do when it comes to diversity,” said Assemblymember Laura Friedman (AD – 43).  “And it goes beyond the obvious lack of women and some minorities in the workforce and the board rooms.” Friedman pushed for roles that reflect reality and encourage opportunities, “rather than reinforcing tired and oppressive stereotypes.”

“We need our workforce to be more reflective of all Californians,” said Assemblymember Rob Bonta (AD – 18) Chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus. “It’s the right thing to do and it’s also good business. Studies have shown that companies with racial and ethnic diversity, as well as better female representation in leadership, achieve higher revenue, more profitability, and higher market values.”

The Caucuses look forward to continuing their work with tech industry leaders to increase the diversity and inclusion efforts in Silicon Valley.