As White House Hosts Demo Day, Techstars and Others Push Diversity

It’s no secret that the tech industry has diversity problems.

Xconomy has covered the topic extensively, highlighting various allegations of misogyny, sexism, and harassment that occur at startups, as well as folks who are trying to change it for the better. That includes individuals like Robin Hauser Reynolds, who described the work of her documentary, “CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap,” in an interview with Xconomy earlier this week.

Now the White House is trying to make a difference, and it is getting the biggest names in the tech world to join in. As a part of the White House’s first tech demo day, the federal government has garnered commitments from tech-related organizations—ranging from IBM and Google to Indiegogo and Techstars—that attempt to promote diversity in the startup world.

For Techstars, a Colorado-based venture fund, that commitment means it will seek over the next four years to double the number of female applicants for its accelerator program, as well as to double the number of female mentors, according to a statement published Tuesday by David Brown, the group’s co-founder and managing partner. During the same period, Techstars also plans to track and double the number of underrepresented minorities in its program.

The accelerator, which offers startup mentorship programs in some dozen cities around the world, also plans to ensure that its selection committees have at least two women on them. It will also educate its staff on “unconscious bias,” Brown wrote. The organization plans to publish data on its diversity work as it gathers it.

Brown is attending the demo day event, which can be streamed here this afternoon, with dozens of other companies that are making similar commitments, as well as entrepreneurs from across the nation. Other attendees include groups such as San Francisco nonprofit Astia and NY Tech Meetup.

“Techstars wants to improve opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities throughout our global ecosystem and open the door to entrepreneurs everywhere,” Brown wrote.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at [email protected] Follow @xconholley

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