Black History Month: Recognizing diversity in technology

Black History Month is the annual time in February observed by the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands to recognize African and African-American events and people. Inclusion is crucial across industries to promote diversity of thought.

The Root, Coding Dojo, and Information Week are just some publications to recognize important black leaders in technology. Some include Granville T. Woods, the 19th-century man who held more than 50 patents like the steam boiler furnace and the synchronous multiplex railway telegraph. Shirley Jackson received the position of chairwoman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 1985, making the theoretical physics expert the first African American to hold the position. Computer engineer Mark Dean helped design IBM’s personal computer in 1981, creating the hardware to allow computers to connect to other devices.

In the present, organizations like Black Girls Code help promote inclusion with a program that introduces young girls from underprivileged communities to coding classes. In 2016, The Network spoke with Black Girls Code’s Program Manager Calena Jamieson, who says that “Women make up 25% of the workers in computer science. For women of color, that number drops to 3%, and it’s even lower for Latina women and Native Americans. So, there is a very distinct crisis in that area in terms of women of color getting into the technology space.”

Part of the offerings include workshops, introductions to building apps and websites, hackathons, and robot expos.

Jamieson says “Girls of color are smart, creative and innovative; they can and will change the face of technology!” It’s a sentiment that Cisco believes as well.

The company’s plans for inclusion means that everyone fits into Cisco’s core values. Chief Inclusion and Collaboration Officer Shari Slate writes that in 2017, Cisco made significant improvements in diversity. Some include the global Executive Leadership Team growing to 38.5% women, advancements in pay parity, attracting diverse talent, and advocating fairness and inclusion. Cisco’s 2017 Corporate Social Responsibility report states the company received a 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2018 Corporate Equality Index.

Learn more about this and Cisco’s work in Corporate Social Responsibility by clicking here.


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