In 2017, our CEO and Co-Founder Catherine Bracy was struck by the stark divide between the Silicon Valley tech industry and the surrounding communities in the Bay Area, epitomized by Google buses and reinforced by high-profile missteps by tech companies and their leaders.
She wondered: how did we get to a place where a booming economy was seen as a threat to many and, more importantly, how could we move to a place where a growing tech economy is a boon for everyone, not just a few? What would need to happen for tech to be felt as a force for widespread opportunity instead of displacement?
As we got to work answering those questions, we quickly realized that it wouldn’t be enough to focus solely on fixing the problems of the tech industry. While tech was clearly exacerbating inequality, the seeds for these economic injustices were planted long before the tech industry reigned, back when Silicon Valley was still farmland.
Tech workers and companies had largely been absent from conversations about how to fix these problems, despite their prominence in the economy. They needed to come to the table to work alongside policymakers and community stakeholders to drive long-term, meaningful solutions.
Our work now is to guide the tech community and its civic strength into existing movements for justice.
We became a conduit for the tech community to do just that. When we put out the call, tech workers answered. They rolled up their sleeves in partnership with community organizations to advocate for economic equity in city halls and the State Capitol, and we won major victories as a result.
The more we focused on the interaction between tech and their neighbors, the more we understood how tech is also building inequity into their internal practices, products, and business models—with global consequences. From the industry’s labor practices to the ways fintech companies build bias into their algorithms, tech is gaining massive control over our economy.
While the tech industry consolidates power, its workers have the opportunity to use their political leverage to ensure that their industry is a force for equity and justice in the larger economy. Our work now is to guide the tech community and its civic strength into existing movements for justice. By doing so, we advance public and corporate policy that enables the tech industry to create real prosperity for everyone.