Diversity & Inclusion
DEI / Hiring / Municipal government

How the State of Delaware is trying to recruit more people of color

On the heels of a new effort to train more Black software engineers, we talked to Delaware CIO James Collins about hiring a diverse staff.

James Collins, Delaware's CIO. (Courtesy photo)

Whether it involves politics, civil rights or the workplace, “diversity” and “inclusion” are two words that often take center stage. When it comes to the tech field, diversity, or the lack thereof, is a major issue.
African Americans make up a small portion of the workforces of many technology companies. Some say African Americans and Latinos are getting overlooked by recruiters, others say recruiters just aren’t being exposed to this sector of talented individuals. Many agree that it’s a pipeline issue.
Either way, Google is trying to tackle the problem. Last month, Google announced a partnership with Washington, D.C.-based historically Black university Howard University. The two entities will come together and open Howard University West at Google this summer. The program will take between 25 and 30 juniors and seniors from the university and move them to Silicon Valley, where they will spend 12 weeks learning from Google executives and Howard faculty members.
We had a chance to speak with James Collins, Chief Information Officer for the State of Delaware and the chair of Governor’s Council on Equal Opportunity Employment, to get his thoughts on Howard University West and learn what state executives have planned to gain more diversity in Delaware.
How do you think the creation of Howard University West at Google, will affect diversity in the tech industry?
I applaud Google for taking deliberate steps to address diversity and inclusion in its organization! The collateral benefits of this investment will have far-reaching effects. Exposing Black students to the seemingly limitless opportunities in the innovation economy and realizing the untapped potential of the participants will benefit our society overall.
Why do you think it is beneficial for students of color to be exposed to businesses, such as Google?
Similar to a number of other professions that have historically had very little participation by people of color, technology companies have also struggled to recruit them. The hope is that the exposure to the work occurring at Google will stir interest by Black students in pursuing careers in the technology field. These types of efforts can eventually eradicate the underrepresentation issue by creating a natural pipeline of future innovators from many backgrounds. It is also important to note that we will all benefit from the value that diversity brings.
Is the state of Delaware doing anything specific to become more diverse when it comes to state hiring, especially in the tech field?
Governor John Carney has made it a strategic priority to ensure that the State workforce reflects the citizens that we serve. Taking that stance at an executive level will ensure that Delaware takes deliberate steps to increase diversity and inclusion. One example from the Department of Technology and Information is our expansion of the places where we recruit, specifically targeting institutions in areas with greater concentrations of females and people of color. We have also created entry-level positions to overcome the “experience gap” allowing us to recruit students from colleges and other accelerated training programs.

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