Jesse Jackson To Take On Tech’s Lack Of Diversity

Source: Jesse Washington and Martha Mendoza / AP / theGrio

Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson plans to lead a delegation to the Hewlett-Packard annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday to bring attention to Silicon Valley’s poor record of including blacks and Latinos in hiring, board appointments and startup funding.

Jackson’s strategy borrows from the traditional civil rights era playbook of shaming companies to prod them into transformation. Now he is bringing it to the age of social media and a booming tech industry known for its disruptive innovation.

“We’re talking about a sector that responds to future trends,” says Ronald C. Parker, president and CEO of the Executive Leadership Council, a group of current and former African-American Fortune 500 executives who work to increase diversity at the top levels of American business. “He’s speaking at one organization. I’m sure the people at Hewlett-Packard have and will continue to put some focus on it. Whether it will accelerate is to be seen. But it’s a start.”

Earl “Butch” Graves Jr., president and CEO of Black Enterprise magazine, says Jackson is shining a light on the fact that technology companies don’t come close to hiring or spending what is commensurate with the demographics of their customers.

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