Microsoft Chairman Addresses Rainbow Coalition Conference on Technology Diversity
SAN JOSE, Calif.
Addressing the third annual Rainbow/PUSH Silicon Valley Project conference, Microsoft Corporation chairman Bill Gates pledged to help bring digital technology to people regardless of their position on the economic ladder.
“I think the solutions here involve both creating the demand and creating the supply. And creating that supply means getting more involved in the educational system,” Gates told conference attendees.
He noted that he wanted to ensure that schools around the country keep up with the rapid growth of his industry.
“Making sure (schools) have the latest in technology. Making sure that the employees of our companies are reaching out to those schools and getting involved in getting the computers and getting the technology there,” Gates said.
The brainchild of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rainbow/ PUSH Silicon Valley Project conference was begun to push the U.S. technology industry to increase opportunities for underrepresented minorities in technology firms and to facilitate tech industry involvement in digital divide issues.
Jackson, speaking at the conference, said Silicon Valley corporate boards are no more diverse than when his organization initially raised the issue three years ago.
The Rainbow/PUSH Coalition currently owns stock in 43 Silicon Valley companies. Of the 342 directors on those company boards, there are 31 minorities — compared with 28 minorities among 356 directors in the previous year, an increase in representation of one percentage point.
“I’m disappointed it’s not more. It’s to the detriment of Silicon Valley. The companies lose by locking us out,” Jackson told the San Jose Mercury News.
Jackson noted that the group’s goals have expanded to issues such as increasing opportunities for minority-owned firms to do business with large corporations and increasing access to capital for minorities and women.
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