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Cracking the Code on the Tech Industry’s Diversity Challenge
JPMorgan Chase is teaming up with HBCUs to create opportunity for black students interested in technology.
Despite a recent uptick in commitments to diverse hiring at tech companies, the technology sector still lags when it comes to hiring and retaining technologists from diverse backgrounds. In fact, a recent report states that people with the title “head of diversity” more than doubled between 2015-2020, while the title “director of diversity” increased by 75 percent. Another recent report found that there was only a 1 percent increase in Black representation in large tech companies between 2014 and 2021.
The pandemic, massive tech layoffs in 2022, fears of a recession, and perhaps a few shortsighted diversity strategies from companies have all contributed to this discrepancy. In other words, there’s still a lot of work to do.
JPMorgan Chase is committed to continuing to work towards a more diverse work force.
One of the ways the bank is honoring its commitment to diversity in tech is through its relationships with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU’s). In order to help create spaces for Black college students to gain exposure to the technology industry, JPMorgan Chase has partnered with universities and organizations—including HBCUs—to sponsor hackathons and promote volunteerism. Organized through JPMorgan Chase programs like Tech for Social Good, these hackathons are designed to help the next generation of diverse workers develop the skills they need to join the technology workforce, while offering current employees the opportunity to give back and lend their expertise.
Diamond Mickle, a JPMorgan Chase software engineer based in the Delaware Tech Center in Wilmington is one of those employees. A graduate of Lincoln University, she was eager to help other HBCU alumni find jobs in the tech sector. “I wanted to go back to any HBCU to help students navigate the transition from college to the workforce," she explains.
One of these events-the 5th Annual #BISONHACKS hackathon, held in March 2019 at the Howard University School of Business, drew more than 80 students from Howard and surrounding universities. The students were tasked with developing technological solutions to address challenges in educational achievement, justice, financial inclusion, and other issues facing members of the Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia communities.
The winning project for the JPMorgan Chase challenge at this hackathon was Startup HU, a marketplace for student entrepreneurs. The team fashioned a website with resources to assist members of the Howard community to launch their own startups. In addition to giving students a chance to put their tech skills to the test, the challenge also gave them an opportunity to connect with tech employees from throughout the D.C. area.
JPMorgan Chase's work with HBCUs extends far beyond hackathons. As part of its Force for Good program, JPMorgan Chase technologists are working with Howard University on the Howard Forward 2024 plan, an initiative aimed at improving Howard's position academically, financially, and within the larger community. Since July 2019 JPMorgan Chase's technology employees have been helping to develop a data analytics dashboard to track the University's progress toward its goals. And, with JPMorgan Chase's Advancing Black Pathways initiative, these partnerships will continue to expand.
Investing in these students’ development of tech skills that they’ll need to advance in the technology field is an important way to ensure that the industry makes better strides in diversity in the future. And that's an investment that will pay dividends for everyone involved.