Politics & Policy

Jesse Jackson Compares Lack of Diversity in Tech to Segregation

It reminds him of when baseball had no black players.

Reverend Jesse Jackson compared the lack of diversity in the tech industry to segregation during a speech at an inclusion workshop, which was sponsored by his own Rainbow Push Coalition and attended by more than 20 of the industry’s companies.

He cited the industry’s low numbers of female and minority employees, called it “disturbing” and “outrageous . . . that in 2014 blacks and Latinos, Asian [sic], women are being left out of the tremendous economic growth, wealth creation and opportunity generated by the technology industry,” then immediately asked:

“Can you imagine baseball without the Asian, Latin, and African-American players . . . not long ago, sports was segregated and it was illegal for these great players to play,” according to the text of the speech published Friday by RPC.

“Scouts could not see . . . they said they didn’t see us, want us, and couldn’t find us,” he continued. “So let’s imagine technology being the best it can be, where all are included and nobody is left behind.”

The reasons behind the lack of diversity in the industry have been debated since RPC pushed tech companies to release diversity reports earlier this year.

In May, Google’s senior vice president of people operations Laszlo Block said that hiring more female and minority candidates wasn’t all that easy.

“Women earn roughly 18 percent of all computer science degrees in the United States,” Block wrote in a post on the company’s official blog, adding that “blacks and Hispanics each make up under 10 percent of U.S. college grads and each collect fewer than 10 percent of degrees in CS majors.”

Two percent of Google’s employees are black, 3 percent are Hispanic, and 30 percent are women, according to a diversity report based on January 2014 data.

Wednesday’s training was held at Intel’s Santa Clara campus, and was just one part of RPC’s ongoing “Technology Innovation Diversity and Inclusion Campaign.”

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.

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