Inclusion Clearinghouse is a platform that helps you spend less time searching for diversity and inclusion information and more time using it. Whether you’re a corporate leader, practicing or aspiring tech professional, founder, journalist, or philanthropist, Inclusion Clearinghouse has the data and insight you need to make informed decisions.
Black Enterprise caught up with founder Cynthia Overton to find out why she started the company and how it’s being received and utilized by other tech organizations.
Black Enterprise: Why did you decide to start Inclusion Clearinghouse?
Cynthia Overton: I built Inclusion Clearinghouse to help tech companies enhance computer science with social science to fuel its innovation. As an African American, I want to use technology that doesn’t perpetuate negative stereotypes about my race. As a woman, I don’t want to be excluded from innovation that overlooks gender-specific issues. And as a person with a disability, I’m always looking for tech solutions that can help me do things easier and more efficiently. Having a diverse workforce increases the likelihood that innovative products and services will meet the needs and interests of everyone. It also better positions tech companies to communicate products and services to different market segments. Inclusion Clearinghouse helps by bringing together resources like reports, professional practices, and even organizations, that can help tech companies understand the issues that feed into the problem, and also solutions that can address it.
How did you develop your partnership with PUSHTech2020?
I wanted to go beyond the numbers and gain a deeper understanding of the lack of diversity in tech, and how the issue came to the forefront. I’d read about Rev. Jackson’s 2014 visits to tech shareholder meetings to push industry-wide transparency around demographic data and wanted to learn more. So I reached out to PushTech2020 and they agreed to meet with me. They actually identified the need for a compendium of resources to guide the industry on making the tech workforce more inclusive—I just executed the vision. There have been a lot of changes in tech since Rev. Jackson’s initial call for transparency surrounding workforce demographics—from the creation of new diversity and inclusion positions to the establishment of talent development programs. Now, PUSHTech2020 is really focusing on collecting workforce and corporate board member data to understand progress. We want Inclusion Clearinghouse to help support innovative practices that work toward making that progress we aim to see.
How has it been received by tech or other organizations?
The tech industry has really embraced Inclusion Clearinghouse. One executive at a large tech company emailed to tell me that he sent it to everyone on his global diversity and inclusion team. Another sent me a message asking if she could send along information to post as it came her way. I’ve spoken to a lot of people in the diversity and inclusion space who have expressed great appreciation and even enthusiasm for having the resources that are important to their role in one central location at their fingertips.
What are some of the changes that you are seeing based on the feedback from companies implementing your practices?
I just launched the site a few months ago, so it’s hard to speak to change quite yet. There is so much great work out there to learn from and support—research like the Kapor Center’s Leaky Tech Pipeline report; talent-sourcing organizations like HBCU20X20; and pipeline programs like The Social Engineering Project. The resources are available—it’s just up to the tech industry to tap into them to support their efforts to create a workforce that reflects our society.