Running an ethical tech company is underrated. From fostering a diverse and inclusive company to examining your technology’s impact on society, it all comes down to ethics.
Ellen Pao, who previously served as CEO at Reddit and sued her former employer Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers for gender discrimination, has made it her life’s work to foster diversity, inclusion and ethics in the tech industry.
The same goes for Tracy Chou, who first hit the spotlight when she provoked tech companies to release their data around employee demographics by setting up a database to track such information in 2013. Now, Chou, who is also a co-founder at Project Include, is focused on tackling the problem of online abuse and harassment at her startup, Block Party.
Through Chou and Pao’s work at Project Include, the two have worked with a number of startups that wish to foster diversity and inclusion at their own startups. Sisense’s Harry Glaser was one of the earlier founders to work with Project Include as the founder and CEO of Periscope Data, which Sisense has since acquired.
While the diversity and inclusion movement has made some gains in the last few years, it has still suffered severe setbacks. On one hand, tech employees are recognizing their immense power when they speak up and organize. On the other hand, those accused of sexual harassment and misconduct are too often facing too few consequences. Meanwhile, people of color and women still receive too little venture funding, and tech companies are inching along at a glacial pace toward diverse representation and inclusion.
Tech workers at Salesforce, Microsoft and Amazon have spoken out against their employers for having contracts with military and government agencies, and Twitter and Facebook continue to thrive as platforms where harassment and abuse is prevalent. Meanwhile, gig economy workers for the likes of Instacart, DoorDash, Uber and Lyft have also organized around low wages, wage theft and lack of benefits.
Clearly, there’s still a lot of work to be done. At TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco, you’ll hear from Pao, Chou and Glaser about how they grapple with ethics, and how focusing on diversity can positively impact a company’s bottom line.
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