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How tech companies can work with HBCUs to meaningfully improve equity

Over the past few years, we’ve seen various efforts to address racial disparity in terms of opportunity, access, and financial support for Black entrepreneurs and technologists. This includes everything from big tech company reports that document progress in diversifying their workforce to the onboarding of high-profile diversity and inclusion officers to address and improve the lack of D&I internally. But progress has still been glacially slow.

That’s why corporations need to adopt a “yes, and” approach when it comes to improving diversity in the technology industry. This way of thinking comes from the world of improv, where all actions are supposed to be built upon. Instead of adopting “yes, and,” corporations all too often follow the lead of their competitors or simply dust off last year’s playbook, choosing comfort over innovation—yes, we need a more diverse workforce, so let’s do more of the same.

The technology industry’s engagement with historically Black colleges and universities as a vehicle to recruit talent is one area where a “yes, and” approach would pay significant dividends. Although companies like Google, Apple, and others from the Fortune 1000 have committed more than $66 billion to racial equality initiatives since the killing of George Floyd by police, this funding alone will not solve the issue of bias toward and ultimately lack of access for HBCU students when it comes to getting into the tech industry.

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