INDIANAPOLIS — (October 18, 2022) — Too few Black Hoosiers are working in or working toward a career in the Indiana tech sector. TechPoint, Indiana’s nonprofit, industry-led tech sector growth initiative and InnoPower, a community development organization that works to increase opportunities for Black Hoosiers, are working to change that.
Through a series of grassroots-based gatherings, the two organizations will facilitate “Design Thinking” sessions focused on developing Black tech talent in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Gary.
“We are committed to inclusively growing Indiana’s tech sector by 41,000 people by 2030, and this partnership will be key to reaching Black Hoosiers to let them know that we welcome them; in fact, we need them, to be part of our community,” said TechPoint President and CEO Ting Gootee. “Our tech companies will be the better for their participation, insights and leadership.”
“The launch event showcased the thoughtfulness and the dedication TechPoint has put into this effort, and it was energizing to see so many people focused on creating an equitable and inclusive approach to hiring,” he said. “Collaboration and a continued focus on doing the hard work to develop, attract and retain more Black talent in this field will be key.”
Design thinking is an approach to systematically teach, learn and apply human-centered techniques to solve societal problems in a creative and innovative way. It starts with people – human-centered design – and applies the creative tools of design, like storytelling, prototyping, and experimentation, to deliver breakthrough innovations.
The three-phased sessions are designed to learn first from the target audience what obstacles exist keeping them from tech careers, develop ideas for how the obstacles can be overcome and then implement the ideas. The sessions are open to the public and will be held:
- On November 14, in Gary, Ind. at the Best Buy Teen Tech Center at the John Will Anderson Gary Boys & Girls Club in partnership with the Center of Workforce Innovations.
- On December 5, at Eastern Star Church at 5750 30th St. in Indianapolis, and at Job Works at 7230 Engle Rd., Ste 213, in Fort Wayne.
“A lot of people in Indiana are working to address equity in tech, but their efforts are fragmented and separate from each other,” Ekiyor said. “It will be better for all of us if we adopt a systems approach to collectively leverage the valuable efforts that have been made and create scalable impact in growing opportunities for access to tech careers for Black and Brown Hoosiers.”
TechPoint EVP for Talent Dennis Trinkle notes that “This systems approach, which prioritizes building trust, communication, and shared resources, will better empower the state to maximize available resources and close the existing wealth gaps.”
The tech industry nationwide, as well as in Indiana, has long grappled with an overwhelming lack of diversity among employees, executives, venture-backed founders, venture capital firms and board members. Despite recent efforts to increase diversity throughout the industry, tech still remains predominantly white and male. For example, research shows:
- Black workers comprise just seven percent of the Indiana tech workforce, while making up 10 percent of the overall Indiana workforce.
- Statistics show that in 7th grade, 19.6 percent of current college-age students in Central Indiana were Black or African American and 18.2 percent of Ivy Tech Community College enrollments were Black. But only 5 percent of the software developers in Central Indiana are Black.
- Data from the Indiana Commission on Higher Education shows that 23 percent of Hoosiers complete a college degree on time, but only 11 percent of Black students complete a degree on time.
Indiana’s post-secondary attainment patterns mirror national trends. Over the past several decades, racial and ethnic disparities in higher education enrollment and attainment have increased, along with gaps in earnings, employment, and other related outcomes for communities of color, according to the U.S. Department of Education report on “Advancing Diversity and Inclusivity in Higher Education.
Nationally, research shows that 10 million out of 16 million Black workers currently active in the labor market, possess relevant skills obtained through routes like military service, certificate programs and community colleges that qualify them for higher-paying jobs. Yet, when it comes to accessing well-paid, family-sustaining career opportunities in the tech sector, these high-potential candidates are left sitting on the sidelines. Research shows that when an employer requires a bachelor’s degree screen for a job, they screen out 70 percent of Black workers. In fact, nonessential degree requirements exclude two-thirds of all adults in the U.S., regardless of race, from securing a job that pays a family-sustaining wage.
TechPoint is also working with companies throughout the tech sector to update their hiring practices to make them more inclusive and welcoming and to adopt new pathways to careers like youth and adult apprenticeships.
About TechPoint: TechPoint is the nonprofit, industry-led growth initiative for Indiana’s technology companies and overall tech ecosystem. The team is focused on attracting talent, accelerating scale-up companies, activating the community and amplifying stories of success. For more information, please visit www.techpoint.org.
About InnoPower: InnoPower Indy is a nonprofit community development organization that works with communities and stakeholders to create capacity-building opportunities for underrepresented ecosystems, businesses, and professionals in education, workforce development, and entrepreneurship. For more information, please visit https://innopowerindy.com/.