Diversity & Inclusion continues to be at the forefront of conversation at CES 2021, thanks in part to the contributions made by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).
According to the CTA’s 2019 Economic Impact Study, women and traditionally underrepresented groups hold one-third of all tech jobs. Despite the increase in tech jobs over the last 30 years, there hasn’t been much change in the composition of the workforce. In fact, the proportion of women in computing jobs decreased by five percent between 1991-2017. The CTA hopes to change this statistic by offering dynamic panel discussions, pitch competitions, luncheons, and networking events that connect industry professionals and tech founders from underrepresented groups.
In 2020, CTA partnered with the New Voices Foundation, Anitab.org, National Society of Black Engineers and the Society for Professional Hispanic Engineers to discuss how partnerships can retain and advance diversity while building an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Evidence shows startups founded by women and people of color struggle to receive funding from venture capital firms. In addition to CTA’s partnerships, more than 30 companies from major tech companies like Google, Uber, and LinkedIn have invited members of their employee resource groups to CES for the first time.
See also: CES 2021: LG Announces OLED Lineup
“Using the power of ‘yet’ can be a powerful tool in this work,” says Lesley Slaton Brown, Chief Diversity Officer of HP. “Getting organizations to say, ‘I’m not there yet, but I’m willing to learn and correct problems and then hold them accountable.”
Diversity-of thought, experience, background, skills, and ideas-is the bedrock of innovation, so believes the Diversity and Inclusion Working Group. Made up of executives from a plethora of companies, ranging from Airbnb to Walmart, the working group strives to build diversity and inclusion programs and to create positive and inclusive workplaces. Key Initiatives of the group include positioning the consumer tech industry as a significant contributor in building a more diverse and inclusive tech sector, communicating the business case for creating a diverse and inclusive sector, and informing topics for CTA’s diversity and inclusion-related research.
“Fix the inclusion piece first, grow leaders that create inclusive environments, and the other pieces will move forward,” says Ben Hasan, Senior Vice President and Chief of Global Culture at Walmart.
Opening the diversity & inclusion conference sessions at CES 2021, Dawn Jones, CDIO at Intel, and Monica Poindexter, Chief Diversity Officer at Lyft took to the CES digital stage on January 12 with their keynote, titled “Keys to Success: How D&I Helped Us Survive 2020.” The topics of discussed included how diversity and inclusion have become more than a business imperative and are becoming an essential tool in creating innovative solutions to some of 2020’s biggest business challenges. The panel was moderated by Tiffany Moore, Senior Vice President of Political and Industry Affairs at the CTA.
According to data from Pitchbook, all-women teams in the U.S. received just $1.9 billion of the $85 billion total invested by venture capitalists last year. Additionally, the average deal size for a woman-led company in 2017 was just over $5 million. For a male-led company, that number is a little less than $12 million. To advance positive change and greater diversity and inclusion, the CTA is committed to improving investment opportunities for women, people of color, and other underrepresented startups and entrepreneurs. Current investments include MaC Venture Capital, Harlem Capital Partners, Rethink Impact, SoGal Ventures and Founders First Capital Partners.
The CTA is also dedicated to engaging with allied organizations to create a diverse and inclusive tech ecosystem and partnering with programs to develop a diverse K-12 STEM pipeline. Each year, the CTA invites local Las Vegas-area high school students to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges and develop critical skills as future entrepreneurs. To get to the contest’s final round, the Las Vegas students completed the Future Innovators entrepreneurship program.
By teaching entrepreneurship earlier, CTA’s Future Innovators program is helping a younger generation–many who may choose to forgo the traditional, four-year college route for the chance to become entrepreneurs at an earlier age–gain the skills they need and find better routes to success. Since its 2015 launch, CTA’s Future Innovators program has reached more than 5,100 Clark County students in nearly 100 classrooms, two-thirds of which are in low-to-moderate income schools.
While this year’s CES is all-digital, CTA’s goal of creating an inclusive experience shows no signs of slowing down. Alongside the latest product launches and cutting-edge technologies from dozens of global tech giants and upcoming entrepreneurs, the CTA is committed to continuing the advancement of positive change toward greater diversity and inclusion at CES and beyond.