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May 28, 2014
Eric Wingerter
Derek Turner

Oakland, CA – Today, after releasing its diversity data, Google announced  that it will partner with the Kapor Center for Social Impact to improve its workplace diversity. As one of the most influential tech companies in the world, Google’s public commitment to address their low diversity numbers head on in a transparent and measurable way could send a tidal wave of positive change throughout Silicon Valley.

Google’s partnership with the Kapor Center will help it holistically address barriers to becoming a more diverse and inclusive employer. The Center is a multifaceted organization that focuses on helping to identify and fix the multiple issues that create both a pipeline and a leaky pipeline problem in tech.  Some of our efforts include promoting computer science proficiency among inner city youth; leading research of hidden bias in the workplace; and providing venture funding for startups headed by underrepresented people of color.

The Kapor Center is led by Mitch Kapor, one of Silicon Valley’s most iconic entrepreneurs-turned-investor, Freada Kapor Klein, who has been a pioneer in the field of workplace diversity, and Benjamin Todd Jealous, a visionary civil rights advocate who formerly helmed the NAACP. The Kapor Center has looked at what is common and distinct about the barriers faced by Latinos, African Americans and women in all backgrounds in pursuing computer science and electrical engineering degrees.

“The tech ecosystem needs help. Google can’t solve this on it’s own, but Google’s leadership is essential.” stated Freada Kapor Klein, Co-Chair of the Kapor Center for Social Impact. “At the Kapor Center, we have collectively spent decades innovating in all aspects of the tech ecosystem including entrepreneurship, tech investing, STEM education, building pipelines and understanding where pipelines are leaky. We look forward to putting this expertise to work on a large scale.”

“The best entrepreneurs see big problems and create new solutions. Typically, they develop products that address a gap from their lived experience,” stated Mitch Kapor, Co-chair of the Kapor Center.  By not proactively embracing diverse talent, Silicon Valley is leaving out entire markets that could yield untapped revenue.”

“The problems in the tech industry run deeper than just getting more people of color computers or teaching communities how to code,” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, Partner at Kapor Capital. “We look forward to working closely with Google to implement a holistic solution to fix them.”

Fixing the problem involves three primary steps:

1.      Fostering an unbiased and inclusive workplace. Hidden biases impact all workplace cultures; despite our best intentions to be fair and create meritocracies, we still are more likely to see talent in those who look like us.

2.      Working to increase the diversity of their hiring pool in the short-term by ensuring that they’re looking for real talent and not just recognizing patterns of who’s familiar.

3.      Big investments fixing the pipeline to tech.  A long term view is necessary to create new generations of talent and building a robust pipeline that looks like America.

In sum, the Kapor Center for Social Impact and Google will work to address both the pipeline problem and the leaky pipeline problem that result in poor representation of people of color and women from all backgrounds in tech.

The Kapor Center will be working with Google to set up a “Big Tent” later this year to bring the Silicon Valley community together to make a real plan for improving these numbers within Google’s workplace, but also for the larger tech community as a whole. Google convenes Big Tents around the world to bring together the tech community to address issues of importance to the community.