Creating educational opportunities, opening access to capital, and embracing equity as a business imperative are recommended as routes to help Latino workers and entrepreneurs engage in U.S. tech industry
Contact: Carner Derron
Washington, DC, October 13, 2021–– In a new report, the Aspen Institute Latinos & Society Program (AILAS) and Aspen Digital call on a cross-section of tech industry leaders, educational institutions, and policymakers to work in new and creative ways to help Latinos adapt to the ever-increasing digital nature of the U.S. workforce. A Roadmap to Empowerment: The Future of Latinos in a Digital Economy makes a declarative case for expanding focus beyond solely the recruitment of more diverse talent toward the holistic self-actualization of entire Latino communities.
The report offers a series of policy recommendations for how key stakeholders can create educational opportunities, open access to capital, and embrace equity as a business imperative to support Latino workers and entrepreneurs in engaging in the tech industry. It debunks myths that specifically lead to the lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion of Latinos in U.S. tech organizations, and draws attention to the needs of these diverse Latino populations, by geography and ethnic origin, in recruitment, hiring, and retention.
Among the report’s key findings are:
- Employee Resource Groups depend on the volunteer time of employees, and they lack financial resources and executive buy-in. To achieve a robust, diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace, full organizational support, compensation, and funding are necessary.
- The definition of “tech jobs” is expanding beyond science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and skillsets. There are numerous talents that are necessary to the digital economy and that provide higher wage jobs, such as technical writing, marketing and communications, and business development.
- By examining the needs of regional tech organizations and understanding local Latino communities, business ecosystems can create practical solutions for employing underrepresented workers.
- Even as the percentage of Latinos in tech gradually increases, the wealth gap continues to widen at a faster rate. For real change within the industry, there is a need for networks of investors and mentors to support Latino entrepreneurs with access to capital.
“Systemic racism clothes itself in myths to perpetuate the status quo. Only by debunking myths about the lack of Latino talent in tech can we have honest conversations about equity and inclusion that lead to systemic change in the tech sector,” said Domenika Lynch, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Latinos & Society Program. “We are delighted to partner with Aspen Digital to surface executable next steps to drive the holistic empowerment of Latinos across the tech continuum, from STEM education to executive roles.”
There is a misconception that there is not enough qualified Latino talent. In 2020, 47% of Hispanic students reported an interest in STEM careers. What is more, one of the largest demographics of young people in the U.S., Latinos have also been identified as early tech adopters and prolific tech users. Yet, the Latino tech consumer is rarely a tech creator. Such discrepancies can manifest in real world harms, like the use of surveillance technologies on immigrant populations.
“No discussion on the future of our digital economy is complete without taking a hard look at which communities are disproportionately excluded, and why,” said Vivian Schiller, Executive Director of Aspen Digital. “Aspen Digital is proud to join AILAS in this initiative, and we hope the recommendations in our new report help to expand the ways we can collectively support those communities while simultaneously holding the tech industry accountable.”
Leaders from across business, government, nonprofit, advocacy, education, and philanthropy contributed to the findings of the new report. Its roadmap was developed from interviews and roundtable conversations with over 30 experts, who represent leading tech companies, nonprofit organizations, and education institutions.
AILAS and Aspen Digital are committed to acting on the steps identified in this report. In particular, the AILAS research initiative Latino Digital Inclusion will continue to source solutions to and public-private partnerships for upskilling Latino workers and entrepreneurs at scale.
A Roadmap to Empowerment is available here.
View this release in Spanish here.
The Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Program (AILAS), founded in 2015, provides a non-partisan, unbiased platform for shared learning across communities of influencers on the critical barriers preventing greater Latino achievement, and jointly surfaces new, innovative, and actionable solutions for a more prosperous future for all Americans. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org/latinos-society
Aspen Digital empowers policy-makers, civic organizations, companies, and the public to be responsible stewards of technology and media in the service of an informed, just, and equitable world. A program of the Aspen Institute, we shine a light on urgent global issues across cybersecurity, the information ecosystem, emerging technology, the industry talent pipeline, tech and communications policy, and innovation. We then turn ideas to action and develop human solutions to these digital challenges.
The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.