Here are the people making serious changes to the way we talk about and build inclusive cultures in tech.
This story is part of "The Inclusive Workplace," a Protocol special report. Read more here.
There are a lot of people making change in the tech workplace world these days, but here are 10 we think are really walking the walk of inclusive culture. This list is by no means exhaustive — there's so much good work happening in this space — but it represents a handful of the people we'd really like to highlight. They've all created innovative approaches to building workplaces that thrive on a wide range of viewpoints and perspectives, or they've shuffled up traditional ways of thinking about how we fund, manage and build tech companies.
Kimberly Bryant <span>Black Girls CODE</span>
Founder and CEO, Black Girls CODE
Most major tech companies have only a handful of Black female engineers. Kimberly Bryant, once an electrical engineer, a program manager, and now an advisory board member at places like Nielsen and Glitch, has founded a company trying to change the very beginning of the pipeline, introducing Black girls all over the country to the software, engineering and entrepreneurship skills they might not get in school.
Byran Dai and Rahul Mahida <span> Daivergent </span>
Finding a job in tech can be difficult for neurodiverse people who don't know where to start, and Daivergent exists to change that. The company, founded and led by Byran Dai and Rahul Mahida, is creating skills and vocational training opportunities for neurodiverse people, while also providing companies with connections to a network of neurodiverse talent especially qualified for data and remote-work projects.
Arlan Hamilton <span> Backstage Capital</span>
Founder and Managing Partner, Backstage Capital
Once a music producer and famous blogger, Hamilton has made a name for herself as one of the first women to look at the venture capital world and decide to do something about the fact that most VC investment goes to white male founders. Backstage Capital invests in "underestimated founders" — women, people of color and those who identify as LGBTQ+ — and companies at any fundraising stage. Only 2% to 3% of all VC funding goes to women founders, so a firm focused just on these folks provides a whole lot of much-needed change in corporate culture, straight from the top.
Wes McEnany <span>CODE-CWA</span>
Leader of the effort to unionize tech companies, CODE-CWA
A whole lot of tech workers believe that unions could be the real solution to building a company that responds to the needs of its workers. Tech unionization has grown from an impossible, unbelievable fantasy just two years ago to a big-time trend today, and Wes McEnany, who leads the most successful unionization effort so far in the industry, gets some of the credit. CODE-CWA has helped the Alphabet Workers Union, Glitch, Mobilize, Mapbox, the New York Times tech workers and many other tech companies form unions so far, and more are reportedly on the way.
Chris Redlitz <span> The Last Mile </span>
Co-founder, The Last Mile
The Last Mile has completely changed the conversation around formerly incarcerated people in tech. When the company was first founded almost a decade ago, the idea of giving a computer to someone in prison was controversial. Now, formerly incarcerated people get tech training from The Last Mile and go on to highly successful jobs at companies like Slack and Zoom. With Redlitz at the helm, The Last Mile is now making waves with a nationwide career training and reentry program.
Aniyia Williams <span> Omidyar Network</span>
Principal, Omidyar Network
The Omidyar Network is looking for ways to invest in cultures and tools that promote responsible tech workers who are focused on equitable workplaces that produce fair and ethical tech. Williams, an entrepreneur who also formerly led an organization that supported Black and brown tech founders, has helped tech whistleblowers come together at Omidyar. She also provides support for people looking to create culture change at their companies, and examines how early startups can build good cultures and technology from the very beginning.
Joelle Emerson <span>Paradigm IQ </span>
Founder and CEO, Paradigm IQ
When tech companies like Spotify, Slack and Airbnb wanted to create new diversity and inclusion policies and trainings, they turned to Paradigm IQ. Paradigm's founder, Joelle Emerson, has a background as an attorney who defended women in sexual harassment and discrimination cases, and she's taken that experience and turned it into a business that tries to prevent the issues she used to see in court.
Candice Morgan <span>Google Ventures</span>
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Partner, Google Ventures
Morgan learned how to lead inclusion and diversity strategy for over a decade as a consultant for Catalyst, eventually becoming the first head of diversity and inclusion at Pinterest. Now, every portfolio company at Google Ventures can seek advice from Morgan and her team on building inclusive cultures as they grow, and Morgan also helps the venture firm seek a wide range of diverse founders to fund.
Joey Womack <span> Goodie Nation </span>
Founder and CEO, Goodie Nation
The Atlanta startup scene is one of the most thriving, diverse places for new tech companies in the country. Goodie Nation, led by Joey Womack, takes the unusually rich vein of diverse founders in Atlanta and helps them build the relationships they need to level up their ideas and very early-stage companies. Womack also coaches founders on how to build their companies and their networks in a way that can foster healthy and inclusive business models.
Y-Vonne Hutchinson <span> ReadySet </span>
CEO and founder, ReadySet
ReadySet is a boutique consulting firm that has worked very closely with tech companies like Google, Amazon and Salesforce. Y-Vonne Hutchinson worked as an international human rights lawyer before launching the company, and she's big on finding ways to take research and data on workplace culture and applying it in practical, usable ways.
Images provided by respective employers.
Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (Twitter: @ anna_c_kramer, email: firstname.lastname@example.org), where she writes about labor and workplace issues. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.