Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

How these 4 corporate and nonprofit partners are supporting DEI in their local tech communities

For Racial Equity in Tech Month, we asked our Technical.ly Ecosystem Builders what programs and initiatives they provide for underrepresented technologists and entrepreneurs.

Zip Code Wilmington students.

(Courtesy photo)

The past two years have seen an increase in commitments related to diversity, equity and inclusion, but for some organizations, that’s long been a focus area.

Supporters of local tech communities like universities, law firms, accelerators, coding bootcamps and corporate partners have often recognized that entrepreneurs and technologists from underrepresented backgrounds need additional resources and assistance. A renewed push for social justice since 2020 has resulted in expanding those efforts. There are many different types of programs and initiatives directed at this cause, and there is still much work to be done to close the racial equity gap, but these organizations support a foundation upon which a thriving and inclusive ecosystem can be built.

For the month of June 2022, Technical.ly’s reporting has explored the theme of Racial Equity in Tech for our editorial calendar. For some additional perspectives, we asked our Technical.ly Ecosystem Builder organizations the following question:

How does your organization support DEI in your local tech community?

This could include partnerships with community organizations, specific resources for founders of color, or any other programs and initiatives related to racial equity.

Here are their replies, and if you like what you see, follow the links to organizations’ Directory Pages to learn more.

Ballard Spahr

“Ballard Spahr supports diversity, equity and inclusion in tech within our walls and our local community. We are exploring the use of AI to reduce bias in the lawyer performance evaluation process and in 2022 was named to the inaugural ‘AI Visionaries’ list for adoption of artificial intelligence in business. In 2020 and 2021, Ballard lawyers incorporated, applied for tax exemption and offered trademark registration advice for Philly Tech Sistas, an organization empowering women of color with skills and leadership to succeed in Philly’s tech community.

Through our BASE (Ballard Academy for Student Entrepreneurs) program, we work with student entrepreneurs on tech and various other undertakings to help them grow their ventures and become market leaders. This year’s program is 65% inclusive of people of color.” — Virginia Essandoh, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer

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TEDCO

“TEDCO, Maryland’s economic engine for technology companies, continues to elevate and build on its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work with a series of new initiatives, including a DEI webpage, a TEDCO diversity rider and a company registration process. TEDCO is committed to ensuring its programs and funds are utilized by a broad array of underrepresented innovators and entrepreneurs — while also providing an exceptional work environment and enhanced organizational results.

As part of an updated company registration process, TEDCO will be collecting race and ethnicity data. The aggregate data will then be used in planning and prioritizing TEDCO’s new programs or making program modifications, with the goal of better serving stakeholders and ensuring TEDCO’s programs and policies fairly and equitably serve the needs of all diverse groups — and are in compliance with the requisite anti-discrimination laws, regulations and policies.

TEDCO was also one of the first organizations to sign the Maryland Tech Council’s DEI pledge, which is a public commitment to DEI and in keeping with TEDCO’s core value of accountability.” — Tammi Thomas, chief marketing and communications officer

Verizon 5G

“Diversity, equity and inclusion continue to be integral to Verizon’s commitment to build and deliver world-class technology, networks and services to the diverse communities we serve. We fulfill this commitment by enhancing community partnerships that advance broadband availability, access, affordability, value and proficiency to customers in and around Philadelphia. We are proud to partner with organizations — including the Digital Literacy Alliance and The Fund for Leadership, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (FLIE) — addressing issues that help underrepresented entrepreneurs, innovators and small businesses not just participate in the digital economy, but thrive in it.” — Pedro Romero, technology and public policy, state and local government affairs

Zip Code Wilmington

“Zip Code Wilmington recognizes that talent is distributed equally while opportunity is not. For that reason, since its inception in 2015, our software training program has made this opportunity accessible and affordable to anyone with the raw talent to become a software developer or data engineer. Approximately a third of our over 500 graduates have been women and a third of our graduates have been African American/Latinx. To build on that success, we partner with community organizations to create an awareness of the software developer community and careers for those underrepresented in tech.” — Desa Burton, executive director

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Want to help advance racial equity in your local tech scene? Check out all the Ecosystem Builders and Technical.ly Talent companies here, and learn more about their missions.

P.S. If you’re curious about Technical.ly Talent to help grow your own org, find more info here and connect with us.

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