Tackling systemic racism

Discussions around diversity and inclusion in the tech industry are not going away. Not on my watch. Earlier today, I sat down with Erica Baker, an engineer at Slack, and Ellen Pao, formerly of Reddit, to talk about their nonprofit organization for diversity, Project Include, as well as the systemic racism that exists in the United States.

In the last couple of days, two black men have been murdered by police in the U.S., Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Systemic racism, as outlined by these recent killings, are at the foundation of diversity and inclusion. So we can’t talk about diversity and inclusion in tech without talking about what’s going on with race in our society at large.

“Anytime you see the murder of a black person become prominent, you see a split in the discussions,” Baker told me. “People who are black or are allies are talking over here about that murder and what it means for our society and what it means for people of color, black people. And over here you see the rest of tech continuing to talk about silly, inane stuff that matters not. We need to figure out a way to get these people aware and I’m not sure what that looks like.”

Meanwhile, a lot of the discussion around these horrific events is happening on social platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

“It’s driving traffic and making a difference for their businesses, but they don’t know how to address these issues in their companies,” Pao said. “The same thing that’s happening on their platforms is happening in their companies.”