Mass. High Technology Council Launches New Diversity Initiative
July 9, 2020
Boston Business Journal
By Lucia Maffei – Technology Reporter
The Massachusetts High Technology Council is launching a new diversity initiative that is set to be the main focus of the innovation economy advocacy group for the next five to 10 years, its president says.
Called the Diversity, Equity and Opportunity Initiative, the effort will have the goal of developing ways for employers to further diversity, as well as connecting underrepresented communities with economic and educational opportunities.
Massachusetts High Technology Council (MHTC), a Burlington-based organization of approximately 150 members, was set to announce the initiative during its annual meeting, held online Thursday.
“We want to make sure that technology employers, our economy in general, has workplaces that are opening, welcome and encourage Black and Brown minorities, women to find meaningful careers where they can grow into increasingly better leadership roles,” Chris Anderson, MHTC’s president, said ahead of the meeting. “Part of doing that is looking at what are the root causes that currently contribute to systematic racism. The education component is very important.”
A group of individuals who are both experienced and passionate about diversity, equity and opportunity will be involved in the initiative, led by the council’s executive committee, according to Anderson. Stephen Pagliuca, a member of the committee, co-chairman at Bain Capital LLC and co-owner of the Boston Celtics, plans to play a key role; Corey Thomas, CEO of cybersecurity company Rapid7 Inc. (Nasdaq: RPD) is also participating, Anderson said.
Boston-based private equity giant Bain Capital last month committed to provide more than $100 million over the next decade to nonprofits focused on racial equality and similar issues.
Anderson said that the diversity initiative is designed much like the council’s Women in Leadership Initiative, now in its second year, with the goal of changing the culture.
“This is an evolving effort that will first focus on developing a leadership team,” Anderson said. “We already have many members of that team in place and our executive committee will lead this just like they lead the Covid-19 project … We’re going to take a look at a whole bunch of these root causes. And then determine where we can have impact not in a six-month period, but over an extended period of time.”
The announcement comes as a number of initiatives focused on diversity and race have been mushrooming in Massachusetts and nationwide, as a renovated focus on racial equality and racial justice spurred from the ongoing demonstrations over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
In Boston, executives from General Electric Co., State Street Corp. and other major employers are launching the New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund, a fundraising operation starting at $20 million that takes aim at systemic racism in Boston and across the state. In June, Mayor Marty Walsh declared racism to be a public health crisis in Boston and set up a racial equity fund, with aims to focus on local nonprofits that empower Black and Brown residents.
“Money is good. Money is important, but you can’t just put money into the same systems without understanding how we’re going to change those systems,” Anderson said.
“You get to the point where events make something that was important, an urgent priority,” he added. “And, clearly, the unrest as a result of what happened in Minnesota that has been lingering for over a month now is something that you can’t ignore.”