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Diversity Digest: January 17th, 2019

At WTIA, we believe diverse representation is crucial to moving the tech industry forward. This roundup of local and national stories will give you an idea of which way the needle is moving.

Female Founders Alliance Raises Cash from Angel Investors, Inks Deal with WeWork

GeekWire | Taylor Soper | January 17, 2019

“FFA today announced a new partnership with WeWork Labs, the startup incubator concept from WeWork that opened in Seattle last month. FFA will house the second cohort of its accelerator, Ready Set Raise, at the incubator this summer. It will also host events at WeWork Labs locations across the country; provide its members one free month of coworking at any WeWork office; and offer benefits to WeWork members.

FFA also just raised investment from a group of backers that includes Seattle-area angel investors such as Sarah Imbach and Dennis Joyce.

‘They are investing in FFA’s potential for system-wide impact, out of a belief that FFA needs to exist and that when female founders thrive, the whole economy will benefit,’ Leslie Feinzaig, founder and CEO of FFA, told GeekWire.”

Living the Tech Dream, Thanks to a Novel Apprenticeship Program

Reuters | Beth Pinsker | January 15, 2019

“While growing up in Seattle, Enrique Rico’s mom cleaned the posh homes of Microsoft employees. When Rico tagged along on sick days from school, he dreamed of having the life of a technology worker.

Now, at 26, with no college degree or background in STEM, Rico is working as a developer at Avvo, an online marketplace for legal services.

He is a graduate of a program called Apprenti that provides education and on-the-job training for tech jobs to non-traditional recruits.

‘I never really thought I could do it. But once I dug deep, I gave it my all,’ said Rico.”

Building a Diverse Workplace Doesn’t Stop at Recruitment: 4 Crucial Steps to Retain That Talent

GeekWire | Michael Schutzler | December 21, 2018

“Inhospitable work cultures, isolation and lack of upward mobility. With the job market as strong as it is today in the tech industry, it’s unthinkable that anyone would tolerate those conditions. Yet that’s exactly what thousands of women and people of color must be willing to tolerate if they want to work in the companies driving our state’s most vigorous growth engine.

Researchers have repeatedly highlighted the much higher rate of attrition among women and people of color in the tech industry. While this data set has been openly discussed for years, the numbers aren’t improving. A recent report from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission noted that 80 percent of women in STEM say they love their work and yet 32 percent say they are likely to quit within a year. For black women, this figure rises to 75 percent…So what can companies do to get women and other underrepresented minorities to stick around?”

Amazon’s D.C.-Area HQ2 a New Beachhead in Battle for Tech-Savvy Vets

Wall Street Journal | Doug Cameron and Ben Kesling | January 1, 2019

“Amazon already employs more than 18,000 U.S. veterans and their spouses, about 3% of its global workforce. The company has said it wants to increase this to 25,000 over the next three years. Last year, Amazon expanded a partnership with the Labor Department to train 1,000 veterans in cloud computing. Some who have completed the program are now working for Amazon Web Services.

“We’ve found members of the military community are a great fit at Amazon—bringing a bias for action and customer obsession that fit in well with our culture,” said Ardine Williams, the company’s vice president of Worldwide People Operations, and an Army veteran.”

Silicon Valley Pledged to Break up the Boys’ Club of Investing in 2018. How Did It Do?

Recode | Theodore Schleider | December 31, 2018

“Diversity in venture capital matters perhaps more than any part of the tech industry because of just how much weight investors carry in Silicon Valley. The people who control the cash — mostly, for decades, small partnerships of white men — determine the types of entrepreneurs that are backed. This, in turn, shapes the types of products that we use in our daily lives. Plus, investors are some of tech’s biggest celebrities, with profiles and influence that outstrip even their hefty wallets.

So, what has happened? Firms removed high-profile alleged sexual harassers like McClure, Pishevar and investor Justin Caldbeck. Some have announced a rapid-fire spate of hires and promotions for women investors.”

Facebook Invests $1 Million to Diversify Tech Talent Pool

Chief Learning Officer | Theodore Schleider | December 31, 2018

“Facebook recently announced they are investing $1 million in, a nonprofit education technology organization that partners with colleges and major technology companies to help prepare students, especially underrepresented minorities, for future technology careers. The investment will help expand from serving 400 students to more than 1,000 students per semester in the next year, according to the nonprofit. It will also allow to create courses that target underrepresented minorities and women during their freshman year and expand their number of college partners.

‘This partnership will bring together thousands of students with professors, administrators and companies to collaborate on transforming U.S. computer science education,’ said Seaon Shin, founder and director of growth operations at in a press release. ‘Our shared goals are to inspire more underrepresented students to pursue computer science and bridge the gap between traditional CS [computer science] and practical software engineering.”

Forget Mentoring, Sponsorship Is What’s Needed to Keep Women in Tech

Forbes | Kelly Hoey | December 20, 2018

“Advancing and supporting women in technology is at the core of everything we do, Brenda Darden Wilkerson tells me. Wilkerson is the CEO and President of, an organization dedicated to connecting and inspiring women in computing, as well as the organizations that view technology innovation as a strategic imperative. Wilkerson knows a lot about ‘best practices’ to attract and retain talent and what I sought to glean from her was insights on the elusive ‘sponsor,’ the vital and powerful career-advancing advocate.”


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