Press Releases

Remarks by CBC Chairman G. K. Butterfield from CBC TECH 2020 Initiative Launch

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Washington, DC, May 20, 2015 | comments

Today, Congressman G. K. Butterfield, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), led the CBC in the launch of its CBC Tech 2020 Diversity Initiative.  His statement, as prepared for delivery, follows:

CBC TECH 2020 Launch

Friends, we are here to unite around a common vision for the future. 

For more than 44 years, the Congressional Black Caucus has been on the frontlines of fighting for opportunity and equality in education, healthcare, housing, and many other areas.  Today, that fight expands to technology.

The CBC and the tech industry share a common goal: To transform our society by unlocking the human potential to develop solutions that will improve our lives and those of generations to come.

But, as we try to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges, many of our best and brightest problem solvers are not being included.  America has yet to unlock the full potential of innovation because of the lack of African American representation in the technology industry. 

Together, we have the opportunity to change that!

That is why, today, we are launching CBC TECH 2020, an initiative to bring together the best minds in the tech, non-profit, education and public sectors to increase African American inclusion at all levels of the technology industry.

According to the Level Playing Field Institute, there will be an estimated 1.4 million new tech jobs by 2020, and 70% of those jobs will remain unfilled at the rate U.S. universities are producing qualified graduates for these roles.

We invited you all here today to forge a path forward of mutual accountability and commitment to addressing diversity in the tech workforce.  We can only achieve real, measurable success as solutions-oriented partners.  We are calling on each of you as stakeholders—whether you represent a nonprofit, a company, a school or you’re a Member of Congress—to commit to working with us to achieve full representation of African Americans at every level of the industry by 2020.  We are confident that if we work together we can reach this bold goal by taking specific steps.

First, we are calling on tech companies to adopt a TECH 2020 Diversity and African American Inclusion plan which includes:

  1. Making African American inclusion a priority for the company’s Board of Directors and executive leadership, and integrating its commitment to inclusion of underrepresented minorities in the company’s values statement
  1. Setting clear, public goals to measurably increase the number of African Americans at all levels within the companies, with external contractors, and with its affiliated venture capital investment. These goals should also include short-term solutions to increase African American representation in non-engineering or tech roles such as communications, legal, and accounting.  Companies should report annually about their progress toward achieving these goals and disclose EEO-1 data
  1. Providing significant financial and human capital resources to achieve these goals
  1. Sharing best practices to ensure broad success and long term viability of the tech sector
  1. Increasing the use of African American-owned vendors and requiring majority-owned vendors to meet specific diversity goals

We recognize that some companies have made progress in many of these areas, but we also know many others have a long way to go.  We are confident that if the industry uses the same entrepreneurial spirit it used to make America the leader in innovation, tech companies can certainly implement innovative approaches to African American inclusion.

Second, we call on tech focused non-profits to adopt a TECH 2020 Diversity and African American Inclusion plan that will:

  1. Evaluate specific programs that seek to increase African Americans in the technology sector to determine which programs are most effective
  1. Identify challenges that are unique to the African American community that may be stifling their inclusion in the tech sector and identify specific strategies to remove these obstacles
  1. Collaborate with nonprofits and the private sector to scale their efforts to increase African American inclusion and to develop best practices for increasing African American representation

Additionally, educational institutions must join in these efforts and work with the private sector to develop curriculum that will close the skills gap and ensure our students are competitive for tech and non-tech jobs in these companies. 

Third, the government has a role to play as well. Educating the next generation of innovators must be a national priority. Congress in particular is integral to this effort, so we call on our colleagues to join us in addressing this critical issue, particularly as it relates to building and strengthening the STEM pipeline, and fighting against cuts to STEM education in the No Child Left Behind Act.

But as we work to strengthen this pipeline for the future, there are many qualified African Americans with marketing, engineering, accounting, law, and computer science degrees ready to get to work right now in the technology sector. So, as a first step, we invite you to partner with us to host job fairs in targeted CBC member districts to recruit people where they are.

Work with us on legislation to invest in education, job training, and expanding Internet access. 

Invite us to your companies to meet with your Board of Directors and senior leadership.

And, CBC members will hit the road and take our message to Silicon Valley, and beyond, to meet with CEOs and leaders of organizations to engage more partners in this important work.

We call on everyone here, and those watching us live, to take the first step by going to the CBC’s new tech webpage and sign up to be a CBC TECH 2020 partner.

Join us in this historic opportunity to transform the tech industry, transform our country, and develop solutions that will change the world.

Thank you.


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