“Appropriate representation in technology … will depend upon more people having the opportunity to gain necessary skills through the public education system,” Maxine Williams, the company’s global director of diversity, wrote.
A black, female engineer who has interned for Intuit and Apple, she is no stranger to Silicon Valley or its particular brand of bias.
“A lot of students from underrepresented backgrounds, who will get their degrees in computer science and want to work in the tech industry, are not working in Silicon Valley,” she said.
The conversation about diversity in tech is also a conversation about social change-about economic inequality, access to education, and the latent racism and sexism of an industry that prides itself on building the future.
Most of the startups that companies hope will address the diversity problem prefer to think of themselves as levelling the playing field more broadly.
Harjeet Taggar, the C.E.O. and co-founder of Triplebyte, a hiring platform fore ngineers that features a standardized, anonymous programming test, called for “a diversity of background … and a result of that should be a diversity of just, like, thought.” A wide range of backgrounds, he said, would encourage “Companies [to] push their products in a direction that’s going to appeal to more people, because the people working at the companies are themselves more representative of the broader population.” Triplebyte regularly sees engineers who would be passed over in a résumé pile: a Game Stop manager; a self-taught parent reëntering the job market.
“Our ideal user is someone who’s working in Citrix in Florida, someone in the I.T. department,” he said, “Or someone working for the last eight years as an I.T. support member of a tech company I’ve never heard of in Milwaukee.” In other words, diversity, in tech, is seen by some as relative-though most people agree that it is necessary for the survival of the industry.