Diversifying the tech ecosystem

Ebony Young
Deputy Borough President
Automatic Summary

Activating Diversity in the Tech Ecosystem: The Queens, NYC Approach

Diversity is more than just a buzzword in the tech industry, it is a necessity for dynamic and innovative growth. We at the Queens Borough President's Office are leading the charge in weaving diversity into the tech fabric of our borough. As deputy borough president and my brilliant chief of staff, Jonathan Imperio, are spearheading efforts to include underrepresented groups in the tech landscape. We want to demonstrate not just the necessity but the power of diversity in tech, right here in Queens, NYC.

Our Vision

Jonathan Imperio, the Chief of Clerk explains that our agenda is to utilize the best of our assets to fulfill our mission - empowering local small business owners and transforming Queens into a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship. Ultimately, our aim is to connect marginalized and underserved community members to opportunities in the tech world, counteracting the existing lack of diversity.

We have based our initiatives on extensive research and data. Our major source of information for the stark reality of the tech world is the 2023 HRNA report, commissioned by NYC. According to this report, the tech ecosystem workforce in NYC is far from being representative of the city's diversity.

The Problem

  • Black or African American representation in this ecosystem is a mere 11% and only 35% of these are females.
  • High-tech jobs, especially developer roles, face the greatest diversity challenge.
  • Despite being residences to a third of the tech workers, boroughs like Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island have minimal growth in the tech sector.
  • Tech jobs are primarily clustered around middle and high-income neighborhoods.

Action Plan

We believe that to solve a problem, it's crucial to ground it in data and conduct thorough research. Our response has been to develop an ecosystem based on information, activation, collaboration, and covert this know-how into wealth-building avenues. We conducted the 'Breaking Barriers to Entry Tech Fair,' aimed at our most marginalized populace, offering exposure to eminent names such as Microsoft and Google. It gave them a broader perspective of the myriad of opportunities in Tech beyond the stereotypical coding or software engineering roles.

We also founded a potent partnership with Sky Hive, an Artificial Intelligence platform that provides a fresh approach towards upskilling. This AI tool has been pivotal in reshaping our perception of how to provide information to the most underrepresented sections of the community.

Inform, Align and Activate

We then integrated this information with our strategic workforce development advisory teams and academic institutions, aligning them to convert information into action. Our goal is to activate in a way that is sensitive and encouraging for brown and black individuals, ensuring they aren't intimidated, but instead, feel empowered to proceed.

Collaborative Measures and Scaling Globally

Besides local efforts, we're also tapping into global hubs of tech diversity. Lagos and Columbia, Mexico City are teeming with tech talent and diversity. We reached out to these locales, initiating communication and collaboration to grow our support base and network for Black and Brown people in the tech ecosystem.

Wealth Building

Our initiatives culminate in the concept of wealth building, enabling individuals to move from being merely participants to thriving protagonists in the tech industry. We aim for the tech ecosystem to be a conduit to wealth creation, powered by individuals' confidence and competence. A glimpse of our efforts can be seen at queensstartup.org.

We're convinced that diversity is the recipe for innovation and dynamism in the tech industry. And our dedication is to advocate for inclusivity and representation in all its forms. We commit to researching, aligning, and activating effective strategies for Black and Brown people to grow in the tech world.

Video Transcription

I'm excited to be here from New York City Queens. I am the queen's deputy borough president and I am here, joined by my chief of staff, Jonathan Imperio.And today the goal is to activate diversity to show you what it looks like in action to include under represented people in tech. And we are gonna show you how we're doing that right here in New York City Queens. So I'm gonna turn this over to my chief of staff because we only have 10 minutes to ground us in the why. And I'll be right back to present Jonathan.

Yeah, good morning. My name is Jonathan Imperial. I am the chief of staff to the deputy borough president. And we just wanna show you some of the things that we have. Grounding our Queen's tech initiatives. All right. So a lot of this is rooted in background of what our borough president, Don Donovan Richards wants to do for our borough. And basically that is to leverage the best of our assets to empower small business owners and transform our borough into a center of innovation and entrepreneurship.

And more importantly, the deputy borough president and I want to d empower marginalized and underserved members of the community to connect to opportunities in tech and innovation. And a lot of that is rooted in data. So we gathered a lot of data to make sure that we really understood the issues that were going on. And we see that there is a lot of lack of diversity in the tech ecosystem in New York City. And here's just a little bit of info that weve gathered from various sources. But the main source of info that we have gathered is from this and this is from the 2023 hr N A report that was commissioned by New York City. Basically, this report is saying that New York City's tech ecosystem workforce is not representative of the city's diversity. And you can see that on the top part, the dark blue represents black or African American. So you can see that the New York City tech ecosystem is only 11% black. And then if you look further down for black females, it's even more of a dire situation. Only 35% of that 11% is only black female. So here at the Queensboro president's office, we are trying to provide a bridge for that problem. And here you see that high tech jobs are especially underrepresented with developer roles facing the greatest diversity challenge.

And then here we can see that Queens Bronx and Staten Island have had very minimal growth. You've seen a lot of growth in Manhattan and in Brooklyn. And on this slide, you'll see that Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island have minimal growth in the tech ecosystem since 2023. And a third of those tech ecosystem workers reside in the boroughs. But even though they reside in the boroughs, a lot of those jobs aren't there. So we again want to provide access and opportunities in our borough of Queens. And then the final that I want to show you here is basically saying that the tech ecosystem workers tend to live in the middle and high income neighborhoods that are approximate to the tech job clusters. But again, a lot of those jobs aren't there. So again, we've got to provide some sort of solution for that. So that is why we have come up with this our ecosystem to change.

So we are very clear on that you have to ground your problem in data, make sure that you do the right research so that you can solve the right problems. So along with that data, we put together a group of 12 advisers working in the tech ecosystem with our most marginalized people and found that a lot of brown and black people were pivoting out very quickly, very fast. Why? Because in their mind, they assumed that um looking at coding and software engineering were the only means of working in the tech in tech. And so we said, hey, no tech is everything. And so what we wanna do is inform you a little bit differently. And so what we decided to do was throw a breaking barriers to entry tech fair, which included our most marginalized people, big names like Microsoft Google, et cetera to help expose people to the why to how they could come into tech in a way that works for them in whatever industry.

And so we partnered with Sky Hive, which is an Artificial intelligence data platform that helps to look at skills and upskilling in a different way. This is what you do in your skill level. Here is how you can enter into the tech field and this is what it could look like in the next five years. This artificial intelligence data tool has really helped us to think about how we inform our most marginalized and underrepresented people differently. So we took the information piece and then said, hey, you can't just inform people without activating it appropriately. So what we've done is partnered with those workforce development advisory teams along with academic institutions and said, hey, we are gonna inform people differently.

They'll have a data report on how they see the the tech ecosystem and how they should enter. What I need for you to do is align them appropriately. And so we work with these workforce development partners and our academic institutions to align in a sophisticated way, which is very important when you're talking about dealing with Brown and black people because you don't want them to get nervous and scared and pivot out, inform differently, align and activate in a way that is productive for brown and black people.

And then look at collaborative efforts that really work. And so here in New York City, I did the research looking for uni unicorns, unicorn level status organizations at mass scale. And I didn't find it at mass scale. Did I find it absolutely here in New York City? But I just don't live in New York City. I live in an entire world that feeds this ecosystem and could support brown and black people in mass scale. So did the research found that late for Black people, Colombia Mexico City for our Brown folks, specifically Latin X were the booming pieces to the tech ecosystem. And so I emailed the Governor of Lagos and said we'd like to start with you because our report states that Black people in New York City sit at the very bottom of this problem. And so emailed the governor of Lagos. He was really good with us coming in and exposing our most vulnerable people specifically in our public housing areas to mass quantity of people that look like them. So they feel supported and their confidence and competence level begins to elevate in a way that is extraordinaire.

And so we looked at information activation, collaboration and now you can talk to Brown and Black people about what wealth building is and what it really means, just telling them that wealth building is gonna take you from point A to point B doesn't matter if you don't ground them in something if you don't ground them in a system.

So in our ecosystem, it leads our, our most vulnerable people, constituents to thriving careers that create entry points to wealth building, right? So people build their confidence and competence and when you're competent is built, confidence comes absolutely natural. And so what we wanna do today, Jonathan is show a quick video on what that looked like in implementation. And our queen start up.org our wealth building piece to this is something that I would encourage you to take a look at queens start up.org to see how we're doing this and the results of that work, Jonathan,

how many of y'all excited about tech been describing? And of course, we want to continue to create uh the jobs of tomorrow, wealth building and opportunities. And that's why we're all here today. Today, we expand an even wider lens by extending a hand up to the queen's tech seekers. Those who are stepping into this space, we see you, we acknowledge you. And this is why I'm proud to be here at Greater Nexus holding our inaugural breaking barriers to entry

are able to touch people where so that means that if you are looking for a job, you're looking for entry points into tech, this tech there provided that Excellent. Thank you so much, Jonathan. We will open this up for questions. We have one minute seeing that there are none. What we ask you to do is number one, do the research, make sure your date is correct. Align that with stakeholders advisor that matter in your community that care about brown and black people create a system that works very well for entry points into tech so that Black and Brown people build their competence and confidence. Thanks so much for your time.

Thank you.