Following growing attention on the lack of diversity in the tech industry, a group of black millennials are taking the initiative to ensure that more people of color are employed by tech companies.
A recent survey of 1,400 employees in the industry showed that 94 percent gave their companies a passing grade when it comes to diversity, despite the fact that black and Latino employees make up only 5 percent of the workforce. 76 percent of tech employees are men.
Atlanta University Center students and alumni are hoping to change these statistics.
Tech Groove 2017 organizers are promoting the event where students, alumni, tech companies such as Mozilla and LinkedIn, and local musicians will converge as “#TechMeetsTurnUp” on social media.
Held at the Morehouse College Leadership Center on April 28, the free day-long event will feature a series of panels and workshops, touching on topics such as “Coding 101" and “Building Your Startup with $500.” Recruiters from Amazon, Google, Tinder and other companies will be on hand to make connections that could lead to potential internships or jobs.
Candace Mitchell, founder of Atlanta-based personalized hair care service Myavana, will serve as the keynote speaker.
Panelists will include people of color in the tech industry such as Giphy’s culture editor Jasmyn Lawson and Noirbnb co-founder Stefan Grant. The latter company was created after Grant and his friends tweeted a now-viral photo after being mistaken for robbers while staying in a Decatur home they'd rented through Airbnb in 2015. Noirbnb company is expected to launch within the next few weeks.
TechGroove will end with a free concert and cookout.
The concept for a tech meet up where people of color can network and celebrate their cultural similarities was formed by four men with AUC connections. Morehouse alumni Ras Asan and Derrius Quarles co-founded Breaux Capital as a “creative agency and social justice startup incubator” that not only utilizes financial capital, but cultural and intellectual capital, too. Maurice Wilkins also graduated from Morehouse and currently works as a sales and outreach leader with a focus on diversity and inclusion at Outco Inc., a software engineer interview prep company in California. Clark Atlanta University student Isaiah Grigsby met the other Tech Groove organizers through his cousin, Wilkins.
Wilkins said the idea for TechGroove came from his own personal experience with networking in the tech industry. He quickly realized that many of the events geared towards people of color in the industry were created by the same people and lacked diverse ideas.
He said hosting the inaugural event in Atlanta makes sense because of the large concentration of minority entrepreneurs and students who are based here.
“I think [Atlanta] represents Black Excellence,” he said.