In the fall of 2015, Change Catalyst launched its first Tech Inclusion Conference in San Francisco with the goal of creating safe spaces to have conversations around diversity and inclusion in the tech industry. Change Catalyst co-founders Melinda Epler and Wayne Sutton spent nine months leading up to the conference analyzing the issues and found that there were systematic problems in the tech ecosystem — primarily in four main areas: workplace, policy, education, and entrepreneurship. The Tech Inclusion Conference was born specifically to focus on solutions to these issues.
But one Tech Inclusion Conference in San Francisco was not enough. The demand was too high, the need too urgent, and the solutions too crucial for the conference to stay confined in one geographical location. People wanted Change Catalyst to bring the conversations across the United States and the world. So we did. In 2016, there were five different events in four cities, and now, in 2017, the Tech Inclusion Conference is expanding to 14 cities across the country and the world — starting in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday, March 15 as part of the South By Southwest Festival.
Driving An Inclusive Future!
Why is bringing the Tech Inclusion Conference around the world so important? Because both our history and our future are being defined by people who work in the tech industry. It’s undeniable that the tech industry has and will continue to have a global impact on all of our day-to-day lives. It’s integral to nearly every market imaginable — from transportation to communication to healthcare — and we hear about it all over the news every day. And yet the data show that the tech industry is not diverse and inclusive.
It’s vital that this trend reverses so that we can all have a future where we thrive. Something radical needs to happen. The numbers need to change; there needs to be more investment in diverse startups, more funding and support for entrepreneurs who come from underrepresented backgrounds — such as women, people of color, and the LGBT community. The tech ecosystem is broken for many in these communities. Change Catalyst is bringing the tech industry to the table to address these issues, pushing it to change its culture, and challenging it to change its exclusive ways — offering solutions one city at a time.
Change Catalyst is going around the world to change the tech industry. We’re bringing what we’ve learned at home in San Francisco and Silicon Valley to different places, and facilitating conversations that will lead to inclusive change. We are eager to learn about what’s happening in other communities, and amplify what they’re doing well. And by bringing our education and expertise into the dialogue, we want to implement on a larger scale what people re doing locally.
In the larger markets — such as San Francisco, New York, Seattle and Atlanta — the Tech Inclusion Conference will include career fairs connecting tech companies with diverse candidates , as well as highlight diverse entrepreneurs and connect them to investors.
The state of diversity and inclusion in our tech hubs is critical — things need to change quickly. Too many people are not being included in the conversation; do not feel safe and welcomed in the workplace; do not have access to opportunities; and are not able to contribute their talents, knowledge, and perspectives. To be clear, a lot of great work on diversity and inclusion is being done — but much has been done in silos. Change Catalyst facilitates conversations that encourage people to do this work more effectively and collaboratively. This will create more satisfied and productive teams and more profitable companies.
When we come to your city, come be part of these conversations, share what’s working for you, and be open to learn from others. Together, we have a great opportunity — and responsibility — to radically shift the tech ecosystem to be a much more inclusive place for all of us. We hope you’ll join us!
About Change Catalyst:
Change Catalyst empowers diverse, inclusive and sustainable tech innovation — through events, consulting, research and training.
Our Tech Inclusion programs explore and develop innovative solutions to tech diversity and inclusion.
Our Startup Ecosystem programs help underrepresented entrepreneurs and investors to start, scale and fund worldchanging businesses.
Change Catalyst is a Certified B Corp, winning the “Best for the World” award for community impact in 2014 and “Best in the World” overall in 2015.