As we head into a new year, DC’s tech and business leaders are gearing up to support a year of growth for the District’s diverse founders.
The Washington DC Economic Partnership (WDCEP), a nonprofit for the city’s business sector, just launched a survey alongside Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development to gauge the city’s diversity and inclusion efforts within the tech scene. The goal is to gather perspectives DC’s tech inclusion efforts, and determine any pain points that the District could help address.
The new survey will be an update to Mayor Bowser’s Pathways to Inclusion report, originally published in 2016, which was the first-ever measurement and roadmap of the city’s efforts. Kevin Morgan, WDCEP’s director of tech sector talent attraction and retention, said the initial report led to the development of Project 500, a business development program for diverse founders; the Inclusive Innovation Incubator and Inclusive Innovation fund. The feedback from this survey will be incorporated into an updated report,released in 2022.
The future of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion in the District tech ecosystem needs your help! Share your voice on this quick, 5-minute survey. Let's make a difference today, together. We value your time and feedback. Thank you! #TechInclusion https://t.co/6kQw34ttEd
— WDCEP (@WDCEP) December 8, 2021
Since it has been five years since the initial report, with massive changes in the meantime including a racial reckoning and a pandemic, Morgan said District officials thought it was time to update the report and its roadmap — especially since, in 2016, it was much more unusual for cities to be measuring these efforts.
“The moment has caught up with that initial roadmap, meaning the reality and the situation back then, it seemed to be pushing the boundaries more,” Morgan told Technical.ly. Now, he said, “this is a minimum required as a society that we need to do.”
The survey, Morgan said, is anonymous and designed for any and all tech workers in the region, from CEOs and executives to entry-level employees. He hopes to understand what’s improved from 2016 and the roadblocks still in place, particularly issues among the talent pipeline, company culture and the work to uplift DC’s diverse tech talent.
“The community knows itself better than any set of experts or researchers ever will,” Morgan said. “So, the goal is to create these on-ramps so that we can really begin to understand what’s really going on on the ground.”
An accurate portrayal of the District’s efforts and pain points, Morgan thinks, is crucial to being agents of long-term, lasting change that will help the overall growth and resilience of DC’s tech scene. Despite the city’s strong achievements so far, he noted that improvement and change are a constant necessity.
“If we become stagnant and self-congratulatory and believe that we’ve solved the issues, we don’t progress, and standing still in this time, in this age, is not an option,” Morgan said. “We need feedback, we need honest truth…[and] individual experiences of, ‘This is my story, this is what works, this is what doesn’t, here’s where I need help and here’s where I can contribute.'”-30-