At the 18th Annual Rainbow PUSH Wall Street Project Economic Summit, the focus on technology opportunities for women and minorities was highlighted by the speakers like Google’s Allison Bernstein, and actions of companies like Intel.
Black Enterprise sat down with Silicon Harlem co-founder Bruce Lincoln to get his take on the presentations and the opportunities for minorities in technology.
Bruce Lincoln has experience in Silicon Valley, working at companies like Apple, designing software. Lincoln stressed the importance of having these companies compete and show off their talents, and how essential diversity is to the technology industry.
Q: I want to talk to you about the tech meetup and what you thought about it?
A: Well it says a couple of things. A tremendous amount of talent who have pushed their companies where they are need some type of public recognition and support. So we had 30 companies that applied. We chose 6 and they were the best, but it’s an indication of how good these companies are and the kind of talent that we have out there.
So we have to figure out, how do we really support this community of technologists? I think we did a good job of presenting diversity. Cause that was the point right? We come together with New York Tech Meetup and we put out a call for presentations that will basically capture an applicant pool of companies that are headed up by people of color, women, and we made that part of the criteria. You know it was cool, it was more a demo day than a meetup. At meetups you hang out, you network. So to see these sorts of things be incorporated into these programs like Wall Street Project or the Hackathon at Essence, that’s starting to show adoption of this way of doing things in places where historically they didn’t do these things.
Q: What do you think of Intel’s big announcement? How does that affect you?
A: Once again, it’s indicative of the recognition and the work of Rev. Dr. Jackson, of what he’s achieved. No small feat to get the disclosure of those employment numbers, but then again you’re able to get these kind of affirmative commitments from companies so that’s important. So now the idea is, as he put it, we do this all the time in tech, we set these huge goals, we don’t know how we’re gonna do it but we end up doing it. We achieve something that turns into something of benefit. So the fact that they’re able to translate that into how they think in that world you know that they live and work in is cool to what begins for us in many respects as an economic and civil justice issue.
Q: So how does that affect what Silicon Harlem does?
A: Well I mean it basically says Silicon Harlem is highly relevant to what is being discussed at this point in time and how that then turns into real opportunities in the future. We’re putting together a programmatic set of initiatives that make sense based on where the innovate economy is going but also back up against things that are coming out of the corporate sector. If you hear what Comcast is focused on all these things connect in some way, so now the job is how do we make all these things connect, how do we make them all connect in a positive way that not only benefits Silicon Harlem but also benefits who we’re working for, the companies we’re working with, or the goals to increase STEM.
So it’s always good to be in an environment where everybody’s kind of seeing your idea because then it means you don’t have to sell, it’s very conducive to starting to move forward and make things happen. We’ve been around 2 years, so in 2 years a lot has happened, there are 5 co-working spaces in Harlem and there were zero when we started. I’m not saying we’re directly responsible for them but we are saying we’re part of the environment where these things are starting to take hold and these groups reach out to us, so it means you did something right when it came to developing your visions and it actually could be put into practice.
The five companies listed below presented at the event:
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