Atlanta's Black Techies Are Cultivating a Space to Compete With Silicon Valley's Tech Giants
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Atlanta's Black Techies Are Cultivating a Space to Compete With Silicon Valley's Tech Giants

Silicon Valley’s tech giants are looking to prioritize diversity in their companies, and so they’re setting their sights on Atlanta’s hub of Black talent populating the industry.

In light of last summer’s nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, big-name American corporations scrambled to pledge their support toward more diversity, equity, and inclusion —  common-use terms that have become core values more popular than ever before.

Among these corporations, the tech world also realized they had a major diversity problem to fix. As a result, companies like Microsoft, Airbnb, Apple and Google all announced expansion plans or major investments in Atlanta, AJC reports.

Why some may ask? Simply put, Atlanta has historically been known for being a majority Black city and now it’s emerging as tech’s leading driver of economic growth as Black techies migrate to the city.

“People are walking around Silicon Valley and other cities trying to solve diversity, but those aren’t diverse cities to begin with, right?” Paul Judge — an Atlanta entrepreneur who invests in Atlanta companies with minority founders — told AJC.

In the past year, we’ve seen more Black college graduates pursue and obtain degrees in computer science and engineering and Atlanta’s HBCUs have proven to be a huge draw for tech companies.

According to the American Society for Engineering Education, Atlanta is the leading city responsible for awarding Black undergraduates engineering degrees — specifically Georgia Tech who awarded 153 bachelor’s degrees to Black students in 2019.

According to Tim Renick — executive director of the National Institute for Student Success — Facebook, Twitter and Uber have all begun recruiting at Georgia State University this year for jobs in their West Coast offices, AJC states.

With these numbers seeing an uptick, Silicon Valley’s tech giants are making plans to bolster the number of Black and brown hires to make their companies more competitive and well-rounded — including Airbnb who recently cited Atlanta’s Black talent pool as the reason for opening a tech hub in the city, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

According to reports from AJC, Apple has also joined the bunch — partnering with Southern Co. — to develop a $50 million tech hub at the Atlanta University Center Consortium, which caters to the city’s HBCUs.

Additionally, Google has announced a plan that would more than double its Black workforce outside of senior-level executives by 2025, partly due to hiring 10,000 new employees in Atlanta, Washington, Chicago and New York.

One of their most recent notable hires was Atlanta tech entrepreneur Jewel Burks Solomon, who was tapped to lead Google for Startups to help advocate for increased representation in the industry.

The main reason tech companies are ramping up on hiring more Black and brown folks for their offices is to avoid the risk of losing those they previously recruited for and not providing them with equal advancement opportunities to move up the ranks.

“A lot of companies have made commitments to hire Black talent with no commitment to adjust their processes to help those hires thrive and grow,” said Joanne Stephane — a principal at Deloitte Consulting who advises corporations on human resources issues — to AJC.

The hope for these tech giants now is to commit to additional DEI efforts that prove this just isn’t a temporary fix to the public outcry. A step toward a better future could help Black techies thrive later down the line outside of their own regional hubs.

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