Dear Google, Not All Black Computer Nerds Attend Howard

Louis Byrd
Written by Louis Byrd

“We need more diversity!” said the Silicon Valley tech giant executive.
“We need to recruit more black people in tech roles,” another executive shamefully shouted out into the room.
While the disillusioned exec team pondered with fixed, perplexed looks on their faces, beyond the shadows they heard a voice.
“Let’s focus on the black colleges! You are bound to get great recruits there. Let’s make sure not to lower the bar by focusing on the most prestigious and known black schools..and no. Hillman College — the one Denise Huxtable attended — is not one of them. That school was fictional.”

Stepping out into the light was Captain Obvious.

It is logical to focus recruitment on schools that have a broad pool of the exact groups of people you are trying to attract. Casting a broader net in a more concentrated pond does make sense. But is it the right solution?

From LinkedIn. By Louis Byrd, principal and cultural brand strategist at Mellie Blue Branding, a cross-cultural brand consultancy that helps engineering and tech companies enhance their brand systems with cultural competence and intelligence. Byrd is also co-founder of Awari.io, an enterprise app built with cognitive technology, designed to discover hidden bias in performance management and appraisal reviews.

 

This morning I read about great news coming out of Silicon Valley. Google has created a more entrenched effort to diversify it’s workforce by introducing a new program co-opted with Howard University called Howard West—which is a 12 week summer program allowing 25 students from Howard to be trained at Google’s Mountain View, Calif. headquarters and receive mentorship from Google engineers.

The hope is that this program will be a step toward addressing Google’s diversity problem.

While I’m extremely happy for the students at Howard and future historically black colleges and universities that may gain much attention by Silicon Valley in terms of recruitment efforts, I find myself equally envious knowing there are many students of color who attend predominately white institutions who remain ignored. In fact, I was one of them.

As a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a self-proclaimed “Ivy League” state school in the middle of Missouri, I know how often the black student populace, especially in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), goes ignored in campus career recruitment opportunities.

If it wasn’t for a program called INROADS, the likelihood of me earning an internship during college years would have been slim to none.

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About Louis Byrd
Louis Byrd is the Principal & Cultural Brand Strategist at Mellie Blue Branding, a cross-cultural brand consultancy that helps engineering and tech companies enhance their brand systems with cultural competence and intelligence. He is also Co-founder of Awari.io, an enterprise app built with cognitive technology, designed to discover hidden bias in performance management and appraisal reviews.

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