We may someday look back at the summer of 2017 as a watershed moment in the fight for diversity in the technology industry.
First, ride-sharing company Uber released the findings of an internal investigations into 215 accusations of employee sexual harassment, firing 20 people and publicly dedicating itself to creating a more open, diverse workplace.
Then, a Google engineer released an internal memo criticizing the company’s diversity policies, arguing that women are inherently less qualified to do high tech work. When that went public, it kicked off a widespread discussion not only of the tech industry’s lack of diversity, but what can and should be done to address it.
Technology doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There are real people using the hardware, software and services coming out of Silicon Valley, and these high-profile recent incidents, among others, have brought the isolation of the tech industry into focus, highlighting its overall lack of diversity and lack of humanity.
The push back has been swift. There aren’t enough female founders in tech. There aren’t enough minority founders in tech. There aren’t enough underrepresented groups on tech companies boards of directors.
Jorge Torres, an angel investor and a Kauffman Fellow, argues that one area that has so far been overlooked in this push for more diversity in technology is the investor ranks. More diverse investors with interests and goals that are different from what is typical today would not just benefit diverse founders, but create a stronger, more sustainable tech industry for us all.
The following story was a guest column by Kauffman Fellows CEO Jeff Harbach in VCJ. Jeff Harbach (Class 16) is president and chief executive of Kauffman Fellows. He tweets at @jeffharbach.