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Taking the Portland Tech Town diversity pledge

Toby Martin
February 12, 2020

To succeed in business, a company needs to constantly grow and expand to stay relevant. As human beings, we also need to keep pushing forward to reach our potential. Einstein famously said that “Growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”

I’m no Einstein, but I’m smart enough to know a good growth opportunity when I see one. That’s why I’m delighted to announce that Extensis is taking the TechTown: Pledge to expand diversity, equity, and inclusion within the Portland tech community.

What’s the TechTown: Pledge?

The TechTown: Pledge is an opportunity to collectively solve a profound challenge: add more women, LGBTQIA+, and people of color to the tech workforce, infusing the tech community with a new influx of ideas and creative energy.

Portland TechTown is a collective of more than twenty tech companies in our fair city, with over 2300 workers represented. TechTown started in 2013 with a mission to raise awareness of Portland as a place where tech companies could grow and thrive. Since then, TechTown’s vision has evolved to recognize that fostering diverse and inclusive companies benefits our community as a whole.

Simply put, TechTown wants to build a Portland tech industry for everyone.

Over the last decade, the Portland tech industry has grown a whopping 50% and employs more than 30,000 people in the region. But tech is growing faster than the talent base: nationally, there will be a talent shortfall of over a million people in 2020.

Why is diversity and inclusion important to Extensis?

The simple answer is it’s just the right thing to do. According to the latest data from Equal Employment Opportunity Workforce, African Americans make up less than 5% of the tech workforce in Silicon Valley, despite representing 12% of the nation’s population. Women hold a mere 11% of the leadership positions in the tech industry, making just 80 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts (per Business Insider). This is unacceptable. Working together, we can make a difference.

Diversity is also really good for your bottom line. One of the other industry leaders I spoke with recently explained that increased diversity at his company resulted in a huge increase in performance. His employees felt a stronger sense of community and culture. And his company greatly benefitted from an inspired team that understood their values were supported by management.

Extensis didn’t take the Pledge just to check a box—we realized the inherent value of improving our business by introducing fresh perspectives and new insights.

“Diversity strengthens our innovative capacity, unleashes the potential of our employees, and directly contributes to our business success.”

-Janina Kugel, Chief Diversity Officer at Siemens

So…what does taking the Pledge mean, exactly?

Here are the 5 specific actions taken by participating Pledge companies:

  1. Form Partnerships. Align with groups in Portland that can assist with hiring and career advancement for under-represented communities.
  2. Implement Hiring Strategies. Create a game plan to increase hiring of women, LGBTQIA+, and people of color, from intern programs to full-time positions at all levels within the organization.
  3. Offer Training & Education. Educate staff on unconscious workplace biases and implement specific actions designed to alleviate them.
  4. Provide Career Development. Provide internal development and progression programs, and ensure under-represented employees have access to these programs.
  5. Measure Progress. Share collective data on representation with other organizations to gain a holistic view.

Since taking the Pledge, Extensis has been initiating discussions at the corporate level, raising awareness at every company meeting, and finding opportunities to create open dialogues with all of our respective teams. We’ve implemented training programs and attended educational forums, resulting in improvements in our hiring and talent management processes. And we’re sponsoring local events and organizaitons which help advance the cause.

This is just the beginning for us, the tip of the iceberg. We share TechTown’s passion and commitment to take collective action and be accountable. As we continue on our journey, we will continually refine and improve our recruiting, onboarding, performance management, and career building processes so that we can attract, train, and retain the most diverse talent possible.

Join the movement—take the Pledge now.

Watch TechTown’s Building An Industry For Everyone video.

Read more about our Six Core Values.