Tristan Walker: Diversity can work in — and for — Silicon Valley

Tristan Walker: Diversity can work in — and for — Silicon Valley

PALO ALTO, Calif. — Walking into Walker and Co. is like visiting any other local start-up. Workers toil away on huge Apple iMac computers at a long desk, as music beams from the other room.

The huge difference: a diverse staff.

Walker and Co. is led by African-American Tristan Walker, and his team is full of men and women of color, not the white and Asian men who dominate most start-ups and major companies here.

“We have a good way of finding the best talent, and they just happen to be people of color and women,” Walker says.

Walker and Co. is building a line of personal care products for people of color, tapping a vast potential market around the globe. Its first product is Bevel, shaving gear aimed at men of color on a subscription basis, starting at $59.99.

Walker says a diverse workforce helps his company reach a diverse consumer base, giving him the competitive advantage over major Silicon Valley technology companies that employ mostly white and Asian men.

With dismal diversity statistics released by Google, Apple, Facebook and others, how can Walker’s company be so diverse when others in his neighborhood are not?

He says technology giants aren’t trying hard enough to find qualified minority talent, by reaching outside their comfort zone of top schools such as Stanford University.

“We’re able to find those engineers at places like Stony Brook University, where I went to school, or University of Maryland,” Walker says.

Walker runs a non-profit organization called Code2040 that helps technology companies of all sizes find qualified black and Hispanic engineers.

Last month Code 2040 was one of three non-profits addressing the lack of diversity in tech to share a $500,000 donation from venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and his wife, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen.

“Not all start-ups have as many resources to go out to as many schools,” he says. “We can help fill that gap.”

Technology companies are working to make their employee ranks more diverse so their businesses will be more competitive in a global marketplace, but this is a problem that will take years to fix, Walker says.

Fewer than 4% of black and Latino students study computer science, and only one in 14 technical employees in Silicon Valley is black or Latino.

But, says Walker: “Change is coming.”


  • michaelhallM4
    Posted at 17:59h, 07 December

    Tristan Walker: Diversity can work in — and for — Silicon Valley. #ii395 #digigrass

  • KaliqRay
    Posted at 18:57h, 07 December

    RT @michaelhallM4: Tristan Walker: Diversity can work in — and for — Silicon Valley. #ii395 #digigrass

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