Los Angeles tech companies make diversity, engagement pledge
- More than 80 venture capital and tech firms have signed onto PledgeLA, a project backed by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Annenberg Foundation to publicly track diversity and engagement with the surrounding community.
- Signatories will have to complete an annual survey on the diversity of their workforce and their civic engagement, including factors like volunteering, offering mentor programs or internships and using local businesses. The data will be made public each year and will inform action items from the mayor’s office.
- "Our City’s diversity is our competitive advantage, so we are always looking around the corner for ways to ensure every Angeleno has a chance to succeed in the industries of tomorrow," Garcetti said in a statement. "With PledgeLA, we will promote transparency in a growing sector and open the doors of opportunity to our diverse base of workers, no matter their race, gender, or background."
Los Angeles’ tech industry is booming. According to the city, there was a 120% increase in venture capital funding between 2013 and 2017, and the 100 largest tech companies in Los Angeles and Orange County reported a 24% employment increase. But the city remains concerned about diversity in the industry, a common criticism as tech grows around the country. A report released in February by the Oakland-based Kapor Center found that nationwide, the tech industry is 75% male and 70% white, with blacks and Hispanics making up less than 6% of the industry’s workforce.
The PledgeLA surveys will not only bring some raw data to the problem, but can also help funders like Annenberg know how best to target money to boost diversity. It’s clear that inclusion will be a policy priority for Garcetti as well. The participants also have to report a code of conduct around diversity and inclusion.
PledgeLA also seeks to ensure that tech companies are a part of the fabric of the community, to head off some of the friction seen in the Bay Area or Seattle, where tech giants have raised rents and thrown around power while alienating or driving out long-time residents. Tech companies can grow to integrate and foster the surrounding community — Phoenix, for example, credits the growth in its nightlife and restaurant scene to the booming tech industry. PledgeLA will have companies report on direct contributions to the community, including investing in Los Angeles-based startups, dedicating a portion of a company’s budget to local impact and giving paid time off for employee community engagement.
Having more transparency on community engagement will push stragglers to do more to re-invest in Los Angeles, and can help the government craft policies or incentives to prod companies in that direction.
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