Reaching Out: Tech Companies Tapping African-Americans
If TechAmerica announced it would sell tickets to a banquet for African-American CEOs of public technology companies, the response would be so small the national tech trade body would likely cancel.
RSVPs might come from Xerox's Ursula Burns. Until recently, there would have been Openwave Systems' Ken Denham. Symantec Chairman John W. Thompson might attend, although he's given up the CEO job there to head private Virtual Instrument, a private storage company.
Still more RSVPs might come from CEOs of major technology leaders IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Intel, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Texas Instruments, AMD, and Nvidia that have minority recruitment programs.
Just below the CEO level, there are several prominent African-Americans who may be future CEOs, including Google's David Drummond, EVP and general counsel; IBM's Rod Adkins, Senior VP for Systems and Technology, and General Electric's Lloyd Trotter, president of GE Industrial Systems.
In Washington, the most prominent blacks in technology are Charles Bolden, the former astronaut and electrical engineer who heads NASA, and Lisa Jackson, the chemical engineer who is administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
"The important thing is not to be the CEO of Xerox," eAccess founder John W. Templeton told IBTimes. "The important thing is to be the one who creates the next imaging device."
Templeton, a Silicon Valley veteran and expert on diversity, believes that seeding the black community with young engineers and scientists is the best way to create opportunities. Still, he acknowledged to IBTimes, the community lacks access to venture capital, financing and contracts.
Private African-American businesses, especially in areas with large black populations like the greater Washington, D.C., area and Los Angeles have done well, winning fat federal contracts for critical IT projects.
By David Zielenziger
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