Rev. Jesse Jackson pushes for more diversity in Silicon Valley

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, tireless crusader for civil rights and the rights of minorities, has been pushing for more diversity within Silicon Valley firms.

A summit was held in the region on Wednesday, hosted by Intel and organized by the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, in order to change how most tech companies have been predominately staffed by white and Asian men. Jackson, who has campaigned tirelessly for the rights of African-Americans, Latinos and women to be included in these endeavors, said during the event that with the talent surplus in the room of Silicon Valley executives he was addressing, there's nothing that can't be accomplished. Jackson give his speech to around 300 representatives from 25 different companies such as Microsoft, Pandora, Cisco Systems and Google.

Intel's chief diversity officer Rosalind Hudnell said that it's a difficult thing to change the industry. These companies exist in environments that are large, complex and quite fast moving, Hudnell said, remarking that a ny progress is going to be difficult and will take time.

Jackson, who had already met with Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella and Apple chief Tim Cook, is scheduled to have a sit down with Brian Kzranich, CEO for Intel. The impetus behind these talks, Jackson said, is to help realize the American Dream for anyone. There needs to be a partnership consisting of two way trade, not one that seeks to destroy one or the other. With the tech industry a market sector centered around solutions, J ackson said that should prove stimulating indeed.

Google's global diversity director Yolanda Mangolini said that it was especially important to widen the pipeline of talent at the company, especially in light of how a full 50 percent of the company's staffers are computer engineers.

The talent is surely out there, according to Van Jones; it just needs space to strive. Jones is t he founder of an ambitious project named #YesWeCode, which seeks to provide opportunities to 100,000 low income students to learn to code. By not including more diverse talent and ideas, Silicon Valley is leaving genius on the table, Jones said.


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