Checking In on TechPoint’s DE&I Goals
Last year at the 2020 Mira Awards, I shared five commitments that TechPoint made to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. As I’ll say on the 2021 Mira Awards stage tonight, I feel accountable to being transparent about how we are doing against those commitments 10 months later.
#1. Evaluate our base of members and board members, with an intention to seek out minority-led tech employers to add and elevate their voices in board leadership.
Year 1 Goal: Add the voices of 5 Black senior executives to the board = Achieved
There is power in being a TechPoint board member. These individuals have the opportunity to influence the policies and priorities of the organization as well as the overall tech ecosystem. And that is why we are striving to ensure that a diverse breadth of voices are included. Doing so will yield more robust talent pipelines, successful companies, and healthy communities.
In 2020, the TechPoint board was especially lacking representation by Black entrepreneurs and executives so we very intentionally began dialogue with those who might embrace TechPoint membership. Those outreaches were fruitful, and we achieved our near-term goal of adding five new Black board members. We are at 14% racial minority board representation today, and we hope to soon reach 20%.
Reaching and beating this goal depends on more Black, Latinx, female, and other underrepresented individuals in the executive ranks for tech employers.
#2. Publish our existing diversity and inclusion goals, including those for talent program applications and hiring, and be transparent about our progress towards them.
Year 1 Goal: Xtern 2021 applicants – 40% women, 13% African American, and 10% Latinx = Not achieved
TechPoint’s talent programs — Xtern in particular — are a powerful vehicle for boosting the diversity of local tech employers and the community. We were thrilled to set a new record with 2,034 applicants wanting to be part of Xtern 2021, but we are disappointed to have not achieved the diversity goals. The results were
- 37% women (753 applicants),
- 8% African American (165 applicants),
- 6% Latinx (114 applicants), and
- 41% Asian or Pacific Islander (842 applicants).
It certainly wasn’t for a lack of effort or intentionality, as the team expanded relationships with career services and multicultural centers on campus, scrutinized the application process for any bias, selected marketing photos representing the diversity of participants, and even did a special “Jobs in Tech 101” educational session in advance for underrepresented students. Unfortunately the tactics didn’t translate into the results we wanted. We are still committed to reaching this goal and are re-evaluating recruitment strategies for next year.
So far with S.O.S. Challenge applications (which close tomorrow), we are seeing
- 36% Women (124 applicants),
- 13% African American (46 applicants),
- 5% LatinX (16 applicants), and
- 29% Asian or Pacific Islander (101 applicants).
#3. Facilitate introductions for Black entrepreneurs to venture capital firms.
Year 1 Goal: Facilitate 20 introductions for local Black entrepreneurs with VC firms = Achieved
Between TechPoint’s VC Speed Dating event and individual introductions, the team facilitated 30 meetings between Black entrepreneurs and VC firms that we are hopeful will yield investment in and growth of these businesses.
#4. Build alliances with Black community and business organizations and continually highlight minority voices, contributions, and perspectives to the tech ecosystem via the TechPoint Index.
Year 1 Goal: Inventory and interview Black community and business organizations and identify opportunities to partner = Achieved
We identified and interviewed well over a dozen Black community and business organizations to learn more about their work, impact, needs, and opportunities for partnership. One partnership contributed to a major investment to be announced this summer.
Year 1 Goal: Publish 8 contributed or perspective pieces by minority voices as TechPoint Index features by 12/31/2020 = Not achieved
Unfortunately, we published seven stories–not eight–by 12/31/2020. The effort did help to build a pipeline of diverse voices to include in future stories.
#5. Increase the promotion of Black voices in professional speaker and panelist opportunities–in our own programming, and to the greater tech community.
Year 1 Goal: Host an educational event series for tech community members about systemic racism to inspire progress toward equity = Achieved
We hosted a three-part virtual event series titled Path to Equity in Indiana Tech. It was facilitated by a DE&I expert, and focused on the topics of “Anti-racism starts with leadership,” “Intersectionality,” and “From metrics to impact.”
Year 1 Goal: Lift up the voices of minority entrepreneurs and VC investors at the VC Speed Dating event = Achieved
We featured Black entrepreneurs and venture capital investors as speakers during VC Speed Dating in order to highlight the importance of investment in minority-led startups.
Our diversity, equity and inclusion work continues
These are just first steps…but tangible ones. I’m proud of how the team has leaned into these goals and prioritized weaving them into everything TechPoint does–doing our part to enable diversity, equity, and inclusion in Indiana’s tech community.
We are in the process of determining our next set of goals and focus areas. This is not easy work, and success depends on many actors so we invite your help, partnership and participation on this journey.
President & CEO, TechPoint