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Women in Tech Band Together to Track Diversity, After Hours


The creators of Project Include: Project Include, from left: Susan Wu, Laura I. Gmez, Erica Baker, Ellen Pao, Tracy Chou, Y-Vonne Hutchinson, Bethanye McKinney Blount, and Freada Kapor Klein.

Eight prominent women activists from Silicon Valley have unveiled an employee diversity campaign to draw attention to diversity issues in technology as the industry struggles with criticism about the composition of its workforce.

Credit: Damien Maloney/The New York Times

Eight prominent women activists from Silicon Valley on Tuesday unveiled Project Include, an employee diversity campaign that seeks to draw attention to diversity issues in technology as the industry struggles with criticism about the composition of its workforce.

The project's participants intend to obtain pledges from tech firms to track the diversity of their workforces over time and share that information with other startups. The initiative will concentrate on startups that employ 25 to 1,000 workers, in the hope of encouraging them to consider equality sooner.

"If companies start early with diversity and inclusion, they don't have to bolt it on later, which is much harder," says project participant and former Google engineer Erica Baker.

The project also will court the participation of venture capital firms to advise and mentor the startups.

After a seven-month interval to define and track metrics, Project Include will publish results detailing the progress--or lack thereof--of the startups.

Fellow Project Include collaborator Freada Kapor Klein says the prevailing industry culture promoting meritocracy above all is doing a disservice to women and minorities. The group's members hope the campaign will lead to more open discussions about inclusion.

"A lot of these conversations are very uncomfortable for people," says former venture capitalist and project participant Ellen Pao. "These are exactly the types of uncomfortable conversations that we need to have."

From The New York Times
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