Rev. Jesse Jackson Continues to Advocate for Diversity in Silicon Valley

By Julissa Catalan

Reverend Jesse Jacksonalong with the Rainbow Push Coalition (RPC)has been on a mission to bring awareness to the lack of diversity in the tech industry.

Companies like Apple, Google, Twitter and Yahoo! tried to keep their EEO-1 data under wraps for yearsbut finally released their workforce reports in recent months. What the demographics revealed is exactly what Jackson is working toward changing.

On Wednesday, 300 people from 25 companies met at an RPC organized summit to discuss strategies on how to add more Blacks, Latinos and women to the white-male-dominated Silicon Valley.

Companies like Intelwhich hosted the eventCisco, Google, Microsoft and Pandora all had diversity execs speak at the summit, urging other high-powered companies to diversify their talent pool.

“There is a talent surplus in this room,” Jackson told the audience. “We come in today to partner, to two-way tradenot to destroy but to realize the American dream for all.”

Jackson pointed to “patterns of exclusion of Blacks and Latinos” while saying, “It limits growth. Inclusion leads to growth.”

Recently, Jackson met with Apple CEO Tim Cook, who recently announced he is gay. Of the meeting, Jackson said, “I am impressed with him and the conversation. He has a real vision for Apple and he sees the value in inclusiveness.”

He also met with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who caused some controversy with his recent comments on working women and who later apologized and vowed to diversify Microsoft’s workforce.

Nadella’s willingness to change “signals to the rest of the industry that there is no reason to be afraid of our challenge to them to grow,” Jackson said.

The civil-rights leader is scheduled to meet with Intel CEO Brian Krzanich this week.

In October, Reverend Jackson sat down for an exclusive one-on-one interview with DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti where he discussed “Why Diversity in Silicon Valley Matters.”

“Social justice is profitable,” Jackson said, citing Michael Jordan and Jackie Robinson when asking what would have happened if the whole talent pool was not considered when searching for athletes.

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