By Amy Jones
Innovate Birmingham

This post was originally published on The Switch

You likely already know that people of color are underrepresented in the tech workforce. But it may surprise you to realize just how deep the gulf is. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, nationally, white people make up 68 percent of the tech workforce — more than twice that of all other ethnicities combined.

Those of Asian descent make up 14 percent of the tech workforce, Hispanic/Latinx people make up 8 percent, and Black people make up 7 percent. Those who identify as being mixed race and those who identify themselves as other make up the final 2 percent. Taking this into account, you can see why it’s pointless to just leave seats open at the table and assume POC will find their way into the room. Tech workforce development programs must actively engage POC, amplify their voices and do the hard work to ensure that tech is a safe space for all.

At Innovate Birmingham, we do this by specifically recruiting POC. The majority of our participants come from Jefferson County, which is 43.5 percent Black and 4.1 percent Hispanic/Latinx. That percentage dovetails with Innovate Birmingham’s demographics. More than half of our participants identify as POC, and 76 percent are from low-income backgrounds. This is especially essential when you consider that we are training for entry-level jobs in tech, which serve as a springboard to better-paying opportunities that will help jump-start a cycle of generational economic prosperity here in the Magic City.

There are several great organizations that are dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion in Birmingham’s tech scene. TechBirmingham  is making waves, as are the Birmingham Black Techies. This focus on diversity and representation within our tech workforce will only make Birmingham stronger. Birmingham is powerfully diverse; our tech scene should represent our city. The more that we are able to share different viewpoints and learn from each other, the better off we will all be.

After all, code doesn’t care. Data doesn’t discriminate. We shouldn’t either.

To help support Innovate Birmingham’s mission of helping Alabama meet its tech talent needs, take a moment and donate today by clicking here!

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