TechEquity Wrapped: Our Organizing & Advocacy in 2022

December 13, 2022

We’re weeks away from saying goodbye to 2022 and welcoming the new year! Grab yourself a warm drink, cozy up, and accompany us as we look back on our journey.

Over the past year, we’ve seen the impacts of the ongoing pandemic and an impending recession on our communities. Housing remains out of reach for many. Thousands of tech workers, including contract and immigrant workers, have been laid off. Many of us feel uncertain about our future. Yet, tech workers have continued to show up to tackle inequities within and as a result of the tech industry.

Through calls of support, online petitions, and policy research, our community of tech workers has championed some of the strongest housing and working research and policies in California. Read on to learn about our greatest hits from 2022.

Contract Worker Disparity Project

This year we released breakthrough research for the Contract Worker Disparity Project, investigating how an entire class of tech workers has been locked out of tech’s prosperity. Temporary, contract, and contingent workers, who are hired through contracting agencies, are often doing the same work as their directly-employed peers while making less money, receiving fewer benefits, and experiencing career immobility.

The Contract Worker Disparity Project is a comprehensive look at the scale of these inequities. We’ve used our original findings to build policy solutions and a responsible contracting standard to close this hidden equity gap in tech. Through this research, we had some shocking findings:

  • People of color are overrepresented in contract roles compared to the overall tech workforce
  • Contract workers receive fewer benefits and less pay than tech employees while doing the same work as their directly-employed counterparts
  • Contract workers of color are more likely to be paid hourly than annually and are more likely to receive lower pay than white coworkers 
  • Contract workers of color are less likely to be converted to direct employment than white contract workers

Using these findings, we published a responsible contracting standard that tech companies can adopt to change working conditions for contract workers overnight. Check out our case study with LunarLab to see it in action.

Pay Transparency for Pay Equity Act (SB 1162)

As a result of our findings from the Contract Worker Disparity Project, we built a strong coalition of contract workers, full-time tech employees, state legislators, and on-the-ground organizations to craft and pass the Pay Transparency for Pay Equity Act, SB 1162, into law. 

This legislation does two big things: it requires companies to share salary ranges in job descriptions and expands pay data reporting to include contract workers. By increasing pay transparency and requiring more equitable hiring practices, SB 1162 will help us better understand—and close—gender and racial wage gaps.

Community members like you called in to give statements of support during committee hearings and joined a list of hundreds of tech workers who showed California legislators and employers why this bill was crucial for workers.

On Tuesday, September 27th, 2022,  Governor Newsom signed the Pay Transparency for Pay Equity Act into law, taking us one step closer to equal pay for equal work for all Californians.

Tech, Bias, and Housing Initiative

We believe that technological innovations in the housing space should not reinforce the racist housing systems and policies of the past. So we launched the Tech, Bias, and Housing Initiative to examine the promise and perils of housing technology and to craft public policy and corporate practice solutions to potential harms. 

This year, TechEquity released three papers that explored tech’s impact on tenant screening, corporate homeownership, and alternative financing models. Here are some of the key takeaways from our research thus far:

  • Opaque tenant screening tools are increasingly prevalent, creating harm through their inaccuracy and incompleteness.
  • Tech-driven housing financialization is pushing homeownership further out of reach and widening wealth inequality fast—we need to move faster to create systemic solutions to the housing crisis.
  • In the face of an inaccessible housing market, would-be homeowners are turning to alternative home financing options such as rent-to-own. But rent-to-own companies report that only 38% to 50% of rent-to-own “buyers” actually convert to homeowners. 

Our research sparked conversations on and offline about tech’s role in the housing market—and this is only the beginning. Stay tuned for more research and recommendations in 2023.

The Tenant Protections Rent Calculator

To round the year out, we launched the Tenant Protections Rent Calculator, the most comprehensive anti-gouging rent calculator in California. 

Millions of California renters are eligible for local rent control or statewide rent stabilization under the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (AB 1482). However, our research revealed that 60% of rental units relisted on Zillow exceeded the rent hike threshold, suggesting price gouging in California. With a patchwork of local rent control laws and convoluted eligibility requirements for both local and state policy, it quickly became apparent that we needed a tool that was comprehensive, clear, and easy to use by any renter in California.

The Tenant Protections Rent Calculator builds on the original site’s coverage of AB 1482, to include location-specific information for the 20+ CA municipalities that have local rent control measures. It combines the Tenant Protection Act and local laws into a single quiz and calculator, helping you understand what protections you’re eligible for and which laws your landlord may have violated.

What’s Next?

Your advocacy this year has fueled our work to tackle inequities within tech and as a result of tech—and we’re just getting started. We’re ramping up for our biggest year yet, but we can’t do this without you! 

In 2023 we’re expanding our contract worker advocacy, sunshining murky proptech practices, and working with community partners to close loopholes and strengthen the implementation of housing policy. Take a powerful step to be part of the solution by sustaining our work.

Thank you for joining us in the effort to build a more equitable tech industry and ensure everyone can benefit from the economic prosperity that tech has created.