Two Start-up Founders Talk Diversity in Tech

Two Start-up Founders Talk Diversity in Tech

Despite President Obama’s announcement on Monday that more than $240 million in new private-sector commitments will be going toward preparing youth to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers, there still exists a very clear lack of diversity in the tech field.

According to Change the Equation, a Fortune 500 collective focused on increasing STEM education, the number of African-Americans and Latinos in the U.S. in STEM jobs has been about the same since 2001.

Rodney Williams, 31, founder of a mobile tech company called Lisnr based in Cincinnati and André Walters, 35, who founded a social commerce company called Yuno out of Charlotte, North Carolina, have been vocal about the need for diversification within their industry. They recently expressed the state of the tech world with Huffington Post.

Rodney Williams: There’s absolutely no diversity in technology — there just isn’t — in the technology that we’re doing. We’re creating a technology startup, which we hope to be a technology company that will create high value and high growth. That’s a very different aspect. I think diversity hasn’t touched that market.

There are groups like “Blacks In Tech” and black professionals at technology companies — but there is a complete lack of diverse tech founders. Technology leaders that are taking on an industry, taking on a vertical, building a product, launching it, gaining interest from investors and being on the forefront of technology. That’s where the current lack of diversity is.

I’ve been in the Valley, I’ve been in a couple other different markets. Our company is three years old, and I probably can mention all the other top technology companies that are led by a minority. It’s a small number.

André Walters: You look around and you don’t see a lot of diversity in tech. I think, as far as how it’s affected my journey, for me it’s really motivating. I look at it and I say, here’s a chance to break down some walls and open the tech game up just like other areas of our world and country have been opened up, whether we’re talking about sports or another arena.