Jesse Jackson Urges Diverse Hiring in Silicon Valley at PUSHTech2020 Summit

Jesse Jackson Urges Diverse Hiring in Silicon Valley at PUSHTech2020 Summit

Rev. Jesse Jackson took Silicon Valley to task with his Rainbow PUSH Coalition’s PUSHTech2020 Summit held in San Francisco Wednesday.

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Among the top-level executives in attendance were Hewlett-Packard’s Chief Diversity Officer Brian Tippins, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich and Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environmental Initiatives, according to reports.

Nearly 400 participants were in attendance, The Associated Press reports, including black and Latino founders of startups that participated in an elevator pitch-style competition to win funding for their initiatives. The winner of that competition was won by eHarvestHub, which helps food growers handle business operations.

“There’s not a talent deficit, it’s an opportunity deficit,” Jackson said, according to a tweet from the event. In fact, diversifying Silicon Valley has been one of Rev. Jackson’s biggest initiatives over the past year, first calling on firms in the region to release their diversity figures and then encouraging them to hire more minorities at all levels within their organizational structures.

Jackson also praised efforts by Apple to add more color to its workforce, but during PUSHTech2020, he tied the recent unrest in Baltimore and the deaths of black men arrested by police as sign of the “despair and disenfranchisement” in communities being torn apart by a widening income inequality, according to The Associated Press.

Jackson believes Silicon Valley and technology can bring more financial stability to minorities and women, seen as one of the fastest-growing and best-paying sectors of the economy, according to the report.

Intel Corp. has committed to spending $300 million to diversify its workforce during the next five years, the AP reports, and during PUSHTech2020, CEO Brian Krzanich announced $5 million would go to finance computer science programs at an Oakland, Calif., school district with a demographic that’s nearly two-thirds black and Hispanic.

“We knew we wanted to do something in K-12 education that targeted underrepresented minorities and we thought we should start in our own backyard,” Krzanich told USA Today.

This comes as Google announced plans to spend $150 million in 2015 to diversify its workforce, with one program embedding some of its engineers in Historically Black Colleges and Universities.