Home ShopTalk WTIA Creates Anti-Racism Tech Pact

WTIA Creates Anti-Racism Tech Pact

More Than 50 Organizations Sign WTIA Anti-Racism Tech Pact to Dismantle Systemic Racism Across the Technology Industry
Verizon, Lyft, Remitly, ExtraHop, University of Washington, Washington Department of Commerce, AT&T, and Fenwick & West help launch coalition to overhaul organizational structures, employee recruitment, and retention practices in tech.

The Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA), as an integral part of its commitment to building a strong, sustainable technology sector in the Pacific Northwest, has announced the formation of an ANTI-RACISM IN TECH PACT to meaningfully address and tackle systemic industry-wide racism.

Under the Pact, more than 50 of the state’s leading tech companies and educational institutions, will work together to overhaul current hiring practices, eliminate racial bias and microaggressions in the workplace, and ensure organizational structures accurately reflect the populations in which they operate by 2025. While the Pact was formed in Washington State, it is open to companies nationwide.

In 2019, 4.6 million new technology jobs were created in the US, with nearly 822,000 postings occurring in emerging tech areas. Despite this profound opportunity and recent investments by some large employers, the entire tech sector continues to struggle with recruiting people of color. According to the Bureau of Labor Statics, and confirmed by self-reported data from public corporations, the tech sector employs less than half as many BIPOC workers as do other sectors in the country. Representation in management is even lower. Further, many BIPOC employees in tech face an inhospitable environment at work, receive lower compensation than their peers, and experience overt discrimination, leading to a much higher voluntary turnover rate compared to their white counterparts, per The Kapor Center for Social Impact.

“We have a clear vision for dismantling racism in the technology industry, but we must first gain the trust of BIPOC communities,” said Michael Schutzler, CEO, WTIA. “This Pact takes a first step to gaining that trust by committing signatories to sharing resources and firm goals around the diversity of their teams over a five year period.”

The Anti-racism in Tech Pact

Signatories of the Anti-racism in Tech Pact are committed to ending systemic racism within their own companies and actively collaborating and sharing resources to ensure the success of all participants.

Pact signatories state they will:

  • Work diligently to ensure that within five years of signing this Pact, their company fully reflects the populations in which they operate, including the board of directors, management, and all employees. For example, in King County today this would mean approximately 6% Black and 9% Latinx, and nationally, this would mean 18% Black and 14% Latinx.
  • Fully educate their teams on implicit bias, cultural awareness, and anti-racism in the workplace.
  • Share best practices on how to effectively recruit, develop, and retain people of color with other Pact signatories.
  • Share ideas on how to build a lasting change in behavior with the goal of delivering more equitable outcomes in the workplace.
  • Share specifics of their company’s approach and the results of those efforts on a semi-annual basis.

The Pact has already started to convene for educational sessions on racial bias and microaggressions, cultural awareness, and anti-racism in the workplace; knowledge sharing around best practices on how to recruit, develop, and retain people of color; and frameworks on how to deliver more equitable outcomes in the workplace. 

Introducing the DEI Office to Serve Pact Members

To encourage and support these efforts, WTIA is building a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Office, serving members of the Pact, with the generous financial and programmatic support of Verizon, Fenwick & West, AT&T and members of the Pact.

The DEI Office serves as a strategic partner in planning, and implementing changes needed to eliminate systemic racism in their organizations. The DEI Office will provide Pact members access to pools of diverse talent; subject matter expertise around building equitable recruiting processes; a network of vetted, high-quality DEI trainers and consultants; panels of diverse experts willing to inform and guide critical policy and process choices; advice to senior leadership around the equity effects of decisions made by the organization; and advocacy on behalf of under-represented employees, interns, contractors, partners, customers, etc. WTIA is in the final stages of recruiting a Chief Diversity Officer to lead the DEI office and guide Pact members as they work to increase diversity across their workforces.

A Discussion on Diversity in Tech with US Tech Future

On Wednesday, November 18, WTIA and Pact sponsor Verizon will host “A Discussion on Diversity in Tech,” a virtual conversation about overcoming the barriers to leveraging a diverse workforce, the role it will play in addressing issues of societal and racial justice, and how it can transform the workplace. The panel will be moderated by Azmeena Hasham, Executive Director Community Engagement, Verizon and will feature Pact Signatories Michael Schutzler, CEO, WTIA; Kim Vu, Chief Diversity Officer, Remitly; Amanuail Ambaye, CEO, LendMe; and Heather Foster, Senior Director of Public Engagement and Strategic Partnerships, Lyft. To register, please visit Eventbrite.

All organizations across the United States are welcome to participate in the Anti-racism in Tech Pact. To view a full list of signatories, sign the Pact, and download the Pact Roadmap, please visit: https://www.washingtontechnology.org/the-anti-racism-in-tech-pact/.

“We need to address the historical underrepresentation of people of color at all levels in the tech industry,” said Rudy Reyes, west region vice president and associate general counsel for Verizon. “We are honored to join WTIA and the 50 other companies to establish workplace practices to eliminate systemic and entrenched racism and promote diversity and inclusion within the industry. We hope to inspire others to follow our lead and spearhead similar initiatives in Washington state and beyond.” 

“At AT&T, we believe that championing diversity and fostering inclusion makes us a better company and contributes to a world where people are empowered to be their very best,” said Bob Bass, President – Washington, Alaska, & Hawaii, External & Legislative Affairs at AT&T. “WTIA is doing important work to prioritize and strengthen these values within Washington State’s tech community.”

“The first step in tackling industry-wide racism is making a commitment to do so, and we’re proud to take a stand alongside WTIA and these 50 other organizations,” said Heather Foster, Head of Policy Engagement and Strategic Partnerships, LYFT. “The Pact has a lot of work to do, and we’re eager to get started.” 

“Fenwick is proud to sponsor and sign on to the Anti-Racism in Tech Pact and its mission to open avenues into the tech sector for talented professionals from diverse backgrounds,” said Fenwick & West partner-elect Katherine Duncan, who is based in the firm’s Seattle office. “Working with groundbreaking tech and life sciences companies is such a rewarding experience, and it’s exciting that Fenwick is part of this tech industry coalition to make this dynamic sector more inclusive and diverse.”

“Equity is a key underpinning of a resilient economy. Our tech industry leads the nation in many ways, and I believe that will carry forward to leadership in addressing systemic racism. We are glad to see leading tech companies sign on to WTIA’s Anti-racism in Tech Pact and encourage others to do so as well,” said Steven Maheshwary, Governor Inslee’s ICT Sector Lead, Washington Department of Commerce.

“Remitly is in the unique position to serve customers from around the globe, many of whom are marginalized in the countries in which they immigrate to for employment opportunities,” said Matt Oppenheimer, CEO, Remitly. “It’s clearer than ever that racism remains present in our society and heavily influences the tech industry. And, with everything that has occurred this year, our resolve to eradicate oppressive systems has only deepened. We stand with WTIA and the Pact’s sponsors and signatories to oppose racism, prioritize changing our own policies and practices to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in our workplace, and work collectively towards changing the face of the tech sector in the U.S.”

“At ExtraHop, we’re committed to ending systemic racism. From the beginning we’ve focused on fostering a supportive and diverse workplace that empowers employees to be their whole self, to be heard, and to do their best work,” said Raja Mukerji, co-founder and Chief Customer Officer at ExtraHop. “We believe that the tech industry has a unique responsibility to radically spearhead change in our society. We’re honored to join the Anti-racism in Tech Pact and work with the other signatories to move towards a better future.” 

“Investors hold disproportionate power in our society, controlling both who can build something new in the world and who has the opportunity to build wealth and therefore power. Venture capital firms, like our firm Flying Fish Partners, are rarely owned or run by diverse people, rarely invest in diverse founders, and rarely have diverse investors. We must change that, and, when we do, we will unlock unprecedented economic growth and untold benefits to society,” said Heather Redman, co-founder and Managing Partner, Flying Fish Partners.

UW’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering educates people who join the region’s tech industry in order to create the future. It’s imperative that this future be one in which everyone can thrive. Ending racism and promoting diversity, equity and inclusion are essential to this. We are committed to learning, along with WTIA and our partners, to confront our own shortcomings and create the region, nation, and world in which we want to live. The time for patience is past; the time for action is now,” said Ed Lazowska, UW Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering.

“Moving beyond lip-service in DEI requires leaders to make serious commitments and step into focused action,” said James Whitfield, co-founder at Be Culture. “This is what the Pact represents, a genuine step forward to address systemic racism in the tech industry.” [24×7]