The issue of increasing diversity in the tech arena has garnered a lot of attention lately and is an area in which we have been fully engaged for the past five years.
If we are going to be successful in closing racial disparities in the Tech Sector, it will take real and sustained partnerships in minority communities throughout the United States. At Comcast NBCUniversal, we have worked hard to create many such partnerships, including a significant partnership with the National Urban League (NUL), which held its Annual Conference in Florida last week.
While at the conference, I participated on a panel with the Urban League’s Young Professionals and had the opportunity to share my experience as an African-American woman transitioning from government into the private practice of law and corporate America. The panel focused on millennials and how they can position themselves for ascendancy to the C-suite. Andrea Agnew, Comcast’s Executive Director of Workforce Diversity and Inclusion, also spoke to the Young Professionals, providing them with advice on how they can break through the "tech ceiling".
Comcast also worked with the Urban League and Digital Grass to host the Urban League’s inaugural Social Justice Hackathon. This was the first hackathon ever hosted by the National Urban League and it brought together nearly 60 technologists who participated on seven teams from across the country. They competed to develop solutions to urban challenges including low civic participation, violence against women, and the struggle of connecting urban youth to educational resources, mentors and internships outside of their communities. William Crowder from Comcast’s Catalyst Fund, which invests in minority-led startups, participated as a judge.
At the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Awards Gala on Saturday night, Comcast’s Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, and NUL Trustee David L. Cohen received the League’s Collins Award as Trustee of the Year. Other honorees at the Gala included Ambassador Andrew J. Young, Benjamin L. Crump, and Wendell Pierce, who were recognized for their various contributions to the Urban League’s work.
The Collins Award recognized David and Comcast, and importantly, the strength of our partnerships with Urban League affiliates around the country. Partnerships like the Connect to Work program with the Philadelphia Urban League, which trains customer service representatives. Partnerships such as one with the Atlanta Urban League to give people the skills to be network technicians. Partnerships like Internet Essentials, in which Comcast and Urban League affiliates across the country have worked together to connect more than 2 million low income Americans to home broadband. These are partnerships powered by shared effort, shared ideas, and a shared set of priorities – economic empowerment and social justice.
I’m conscious that even with these partnerships, we still have miles to travel in terms of diversity and inclusion as well as in narrowing the digital divide. But I am confident that we are doing it the right way with real and sustained partnerships like the one between Comcast NBCUniversal and the Urban League.