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Jesse Jackson Gets Silicon Valley to Talk Diversity

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Jesse Jackson.

Jesse Jackson told technology industry companies that "there's nothing we can't do" to resolve the lack of gender and racial diversity in the technology sector.

Credit: Eric Guo/Flickr

Representatives from across the technology industry on Wednesday attended a Silicon Valley summit on the issue of diversity in the tech workforce organized by Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition and hosted by Intel.

Jackson told representatives from Google, Cisco, Pandora, Microsoft, and many others, that although a lack of gender and racial diversity in the tech sector remains a nagging problem, "there's nothing we can't do," noting the industry is a solutions-oriented business.

Many speakers at the event, including Rosalind Hudnell, Intel's chief diversity officer, acknowledged creating a more diverse tech sector would take time.

Gwen Houston, general manager of global diversity at Microsoft, said there has been little progress to date because tech leaders are often not held accountable for diversity issues. Houston said commitment to diversity has to come from the top, noting her own experience getting Microsoft's then-CEO Steve Ballmer on board with a program to increase diversity.

Many speakers also emphasized diversity is good business, including activist and #YesWeCode project founder Van Jones, who said tech companies are leaving "too much genius on the table" by not pursuing diversity.

From USA Today
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