Remarks by Rev. Jesse Jackson at Dec. 10 Technology Forum
Remarks as prepared for delivery by the Rev. Jesse Jackson on December 10, 2014, at Intel Corporation:
A 21st Century Technology Innovation Diversity and Inclusion Campaign
A moment of silence for Trayvon Martin; for Eric Garner; for Oscar Brown, Amadou Diallo, Michael Brown and the dozens of unarmed Black men shot and killed with no punishment for their killers. We pray that the scourge of violence and racial fears will be wiped away, that our hopes outdistance our fears. Where there is hurt and hate, there must be healing and reconciliation.
I want first to thank Ms. Rosalind Hudnell, VP and Chief Diversity of Intel Corporation – one of the true pioneers and trailblazers in re-designing the technology industry to mirror the world in which we live.
And I’m reminded that Intel, for years now, have voluntarily and publicly released their EEO-1 Reports and diversity data – paving the way for the wave of companies that released this data this year.
Rainbow PUSH (RPC) successfully challenged companies to release their workforce diversity data. We researched the racial and gender composition in their boardrooms, c-suites and workforce. The data is undeniable, and underscores the systemic under-representation of Blacks, Latinos, and women in the industry.
Most companies have between 0-3% Blacks in their tech workforce; virtually the same for their non-tech workforce. Of the twenty companies we researched, there were only 3 African Americans out of 189 total Board Directors; just 1 Latino. 153 men and just 36 Women. 11 (over half) have all-white Boards. Of 307 top “c-suite” leaders, there are just six African Americans and 3 Latinos. 244 Men and just 65 Women. 7 of the 20 companies have all white leadership.
Equality leads to justice. Justice leads to peace. Peace leads to the best environment for investment and growth.
We should be disturbed by this data, because it is disturbing. We should be outraged, but it is outrageous – that in 2014 Blacks and Latinos, Asian, women are being left out of the tremendous economic growth, wealth creation and opportunity generated by the technology industry.
Can you imagine baseball without the Asian, Latin and African American players. without Mays, Marichal, Cepeda or Clemente? Can you imagine basketball with Steph Curry or Derrick Rose or Dkembi Mutumbo or Hakeem Olajawon?
Not so long ago, sports was segregated and it was illegal for these great players to play. Scouts could not see. They thought they were the world’s best. If we look at the world, look for talent, through a door and not through a keyhole, our best days will be ahead of us.
They said they didn’t see us, want us, and couldn’t find us.
So let’s imagine technology being the best it can be, where all are included and nobody is left behind.
But we should also be inspired to become change agents. We cannot be quieted by fear or shame – but invigorated to work, to push the envelope, and generate a new or innovative inclusion, disruptive diversity.
You are the new leaders. The new innovators. Not just consumers. Not just users. Let’s rally together today and commit ourselves to change the face of technology to mirror the world in which we live.
That’s why our Rainbow PUSH Silicon Valley “Digital Connections” Project is sponsoring this forum – to accelerate the dialogue on the “next steps” required to concretely move the diversity and inclusion needle in the industry.
The entire tech eco-system is here today: 25 technology companies, and over 300 people representing civil rights organizations, entrepreneurs and VC’s, labor and community technology groups, the minority business community, even the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance.
When people say “we can’t find them.” Look around this room – there is nothing we cannot do. There is a talent surplus in this room. Anything and anybody the tech industry needs to grow and innovate is in this room!
We’ve met with the titans of the tech industry recently: Tim Cook in Cupertino on Monday, Satya Nadella last week in Washington; we’ll meet with Intel’s Brian Kzanich tomorrow and HP’s Meg Whitman in the coming weeks.
Yes, we pressure and PUSH – because doors often times do not open on their open. They need a little pushing.
So we come here today to create to partner, to create two way trade, a mutually beneficial relationship. We come not to destroy but to fulfill the laws of justice and fairness, to realize the American dream for all.
We want to meet with you and your leadership teams in the immediate period ahead to design and implement initiatives to expand diversity and inclusion in Silicon Valley and the technology industry.
Look at Rainbow PUSH as your bridge builder. Your connector to talent you are looking for. There is nothing technology wants and needs that we cannot find.
Many people ask me, Reverend, why are you in this tech thing? Well, it’s because access to technology – full participation in the technology revolution, is this era’s civil rights imperative.
It is the fullness of time. This is the requirement for this stage of national and global development.
This is the 4th stage of the civil rights movement: 1st, to end slavery; 2nd, to end Jim Crow segregation; the 3rd stage was the fight for the right to vote. In this 4th stage, beyond slavery, beyond segregation, beyond the right to vote, we need access to capital, industry, technology, deal flow and relationships.
You partner with people you know like and trust. We must expand the circle. So often we are not rejected, we are not even considered.
We cannot fulfill this stage of our struggle unless we honor the challenges of economic justice, diversity and inclusion of this day.
You may not have marched with Dr. King; you may not have marched from Selma to Montgomery for the right to vote; you may not voted for me in 1984 or 1988, or President Barack in 2008. But today, you must stand up – – – all of you, insiders and outsiders, corporate representatives, community organizations, businesses – all of you must stand up for this moment.
What Trayvon Martin shows. What Michael Brown and Eric Garner show is that our struggle continues. Racial injustice. Income inequality. Poverty and economic disparities. We are free, but still not equal.
So as we seek to expand participation in the tech industry, we must also tackle income inequality – to measure character by how we treat the least of these….our low wage workers: security guards, janitors, cafeteria workers, gardeners. They too deserve fairness, and to share in the economic opportunity of Silicon Valley.
Injustice and sores and wounds are rubbed raw, this condition can lead to anarchy and chaos. Justice leads to peace and investment.
When the Giants played Kansas City in the World Series – there were players on the field who spoke different languages, but had the same message. There are players from Cuba and Japan and Europe – white, black, yellow and brown. They were bound by common message and rules, not separated by race.
The joy is that when the rules are public, the goals are clear, the umpires are fair, and the score is transparent, we can all win.
We are in a propitious moment, a special moment in time. I often say to tech leaders, “The tech industry has demonstrated that it can solve the most challenging complex problems in the world. Inclusion is a complex problem – if we put our collective minds to it, we can solve it, too. There’s nothing we can’t do, together.”
So let’s dream.
Dream of an Infrastructure / Innovation Development Bank that funds start ups, produces a world class education, the new moon shot for technology, diversity and inclusion.
Dream of repatriating trillions of dollars held in offshore accounts – bring that money back home to create an Infrastructure / Innovation Development Bank that funds start ups, produces a world class education.
Dream of the next moon shot for technology, diversity and inclusion.
Dream of what the piano has – take Black and White and make music together.
Dream of futures for our youth, not funerals.
Dream of making Lady Liberty smile again. We did the right things for the right reasons.
We’re not naïve. There is darkness, injustice and inequality.
But we must let the darkness get us down. Sometimes we study at night to pass the exam in the morning. It’s difficult because it’s dark. We strategize in the darkness.
The point is – keep plowing. Keep planting seeds to sow.
Dr. King – climb the mountain. First round of the mountain, you see the city.
Keep driving. And it’s dark. Don’t get disappointed. Keep rolling.
Further up the mountain to a higher angle. The light appears again.
On one bright morning, we will choose co-existence over co-annihilation – shared celebration where we are all winners.
We must keep on PUSHING.
And most of all, Keep Hope Alive.