The tech industry in the United States has been, perhaps, the most successful contributor to the development of the economy for the last couple of decades. Giving America an unparalleled edge that only a few countries can match, the tech industry has provided us with a plethora of innovations and technologies that we all benefit from on a day to day basis. Whether it be the computers and cell phones that we use or the new medicines being designed to help fight diseases, technology companies have made our lives substantially easier.
This is how the technology industry is typically portrayed by most individuals, but unfortunately, it is not without its faults. Throughout the history of the industry, much like other fields, it’s largely been favorable to one demographic. Irrefutably, since the beginning of the country, whites, specifically white men, have held dominant positions of power in almost every facet. The individuals who have suffered the most, people of color, have long been marginalized and excluded from these opportunities of power thus ensuring that the compositions of most places of work remain homogenized.
Fortunately, as contemporary ideas begin to shape public perception, people are beginning to understand the ramifications and injustices of such practices. This is one of the main reasons why the founders of Code2040, a relatively new startup that was established 2 years ago, decided to take the initiative and assist people of color in taking to steps to penetrate these previously unattainable fields of work.
While the co-founders of Code2040, Laura Powers and Tristan Walker, both grew up in New York City with different upbringings, they each had the same vision of the world around them. Powers and Walker both believed that the bridges between education and employment were lacking, especially for people of color. They believed that people of color aren’t equipped with necessary resources to assist them in obtaining jobs after college. Filling in that void, Powers and Walker decided that they would commit their own resources and time to helping people of color become productive and successful members of society.
Recognizing that there are many talented people of color in the United States with untapped potential, Powers and Walker began this journey in creating Code2040 by creating a paid internship program that helped black and Hispanic students gain valuable experience that would help propel them into tech companies. Some of their interns, as a result of participating in their program, have received jobs at tech companies like Slack and Lyft. In total, Powers and Walker are working with over 75 companies that are spread all across the country, providing their interns with many options to advance their careers upon graduation.
Companies like Google have realized the potential that Code2040 could offer for the future and as a result, they have given Code2040 a grant for over $775,000 to fund different programs. Powers and Walkers’ company has even captured the attention of the tech giant Apple, resulting in Apple offering paid internships to a handful of Code2040’s fellows. Another company named the “Knight Foundation” also donated a hefty $1.2 million, allowing Code2040 to expand and reach more students than they imagined possible.
Code2040 is one of the many people of color startups that are beginning to pop up across the United States as of recently. However, what makes Code2040 so special is the fact that it was started by people of color who left esteemed jobs, like at Foursquare and Twitter, to help other people who aren’t so privileged. Seeking to narrow the gap in employment between people of color and whites in the technology industry, Powers and Walker created Code2040 as a way to help funnel POC into the insulted technology industry with hopes that it will begin to transform it into a more diverse place for work. Time will tell how successful these measures will be, but it is positive seeing people trying to change the status quo and bring about formative change to the composition of the traditional workplace. After all, there are many talented POC that are waiting for their turn, eager to help move this country forward.