How To Ensure Tech Economies Are As Diverse As Their Regions? Focus On Early Talent And Local Funding

Four ecosystem builders on two big ideas for bringing more people into local tech.

Social justice-minded tech stakeholders often wax poetic on the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in the majority-white industry. But if intentional steps aren’t being taken to ensure a local tech economy’s constituents look like those in the region where it’s based, then it’s not serving that region’s needs, and that feel-good language is just lip service.

But what are the gaps and solutions to building more equitable ecosystems, from technologists to entrepreneurs? And how can stakeholders shift mindsets to prioritize the work it takes to get there?

Focus on early talent

It wouldn’t be possible to change the way the tech ecosystem looks if there isn’t a workforce to support it with adequate tech education. Ecosystem leaders need to think about where the next generation of tech workers is coming from, and how to train them.

Tony Green, chief scientific officer at Philly’s Ben Franklin Technology Partners, believed there are two approaches: Start with education and create opportunities for people to learn new skills. During a Builders Conference panel at Philly Tech Week 2023 presented by Comcast, he pointed to two Greater Philadelphia programs, youth nonprofit Coded by Kids and coding bootcamp Zip Code Wilmington, as examples of where this work is happening now.

He also cited the importance of looking at company management teams, because investors invest in the team just as much, if not more, than they invest in the technology.

“Where are we getting this next generation of management teams? How are we going to build that? A lot of people think you can import it by bringing in more venture money,” he said. “We’re gonna have to build this organically. Each region is going to have to develop programs and opportunities to build that next generation of management.” 

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