raceAhead: Europe’s Tech Industry Has a Diversity Problem Too

December 12, 2018, 8:09 PM UTC

Grace Donnelly, raceAhead’s fearless editor, traveled to Finland recently to moderate a discussion about the future of feeding a growing global population at the Slush startup conference in Helsinki.

She also found an ecosystem where inclusion was top of mind.

“This year 93% of funds from venture capital firms in Europe went to startups founded only by men,” she writes. But investors there seem to be taking responsibility for the lack of diversity among the founders they are funding.

“The VC industry has failed on this,” Skype co-founder and Atomico CEO Niklas Zennström said on stage as he and Check Warner, co-founder of the nonprofit Diversity VC, introduced the Diversity and Inclusion in Tech Guide, a toolkit they created in collaboration with about 60 experts and entrepreneurs that aims to help founders grow their startups into diverse organizations.

Companies hoping to secure funding from Atomico should expect questions about their culture, Zennström said. “And if they don’t care about diversity, that’s going to be a big red flag.”

A diversity policy is also one of the requirements in the firm’s term sheets, he added.

Warner said that while many founders understand diversity is important, they don’t know where to begin.

“I think there’s a massive disconnect within the tech industry,” Warner noted. “A lot of people working in it come from these very privileged places and they don’t necessarily realize that about themselves, so there’s a sort of lack of self-awareness.”

You can read the rest of the conversation here and find the free guide online. It offers tips (from understanding bias to getting buy-in from leaders across the company) as well as case studies highlighting how other organizations have implemented their own diversity strategies, that are valuable to those working toward inclusion on any continent.

“I think because the European tech industry is so young, it might be easier for us to make sure we’re getting on the right course early on,” Zennström said.

Time will tell, but let’s hope he’s right.

On Point

Stacey Abrams: Yes, I will run againIn an election marred by voter suppression, Abrams made history by receiving the most votes ever for a Democratic candidate running for governor in the state of Georgia. "We turned out voters who had never been engaged in the body politic,” Abrams said. “We tripled the number of Latinos who voted. We tripled the number of Asian-Americans. We increased African-Americans by 38%. Increased the youth vote.” She spoke with Fortune's Beth Kowitt about her voter-focused campaign, her decision not to concede, and why you'll certainly be seeing her on a ticket again.  Fortune

Superstar YouTuber PewDiePie in trouble again
Late last week Felix Kjellberg (who posts under the name PewDiePie) published a video that accidentally shouted out a known white supremacist YouTuber whose entire career is based on racist and anti-Semitic content. Kjellberg, who has 76 million subscribers, has been in trouble for this sort of "cluelessness" before; in an attempt to defend himself, he published a subsequent video to address the backlash, saying that he simply couldn’t be expected to review every video ever created by every digital creator he mentions. ”[He] apparently likes to have hidden and not-so-hidden Nazi references in his videos and obviously if I noticed that I wouldn’t have referenced him in the shoutout,” said Kjellberg. The endorsement for the white supremacist who goes by the handle “E;R”, received tens of thousands of new subscribers as a result.
Huffington Post

Indian men being arrested for sharing the kind of political memes that your kid cranks out every day
Meanwhile in India, people are increasingly being jailed for sharing online memes that offend powerful figures. According to the publication Mint, some 50 people have been arrested for social media posts with “derogatory remarks” leveled at elected officials in the last year; most are men, poor, illiterate, Muslim, and recent internet users. Some spend as long as six months in jail. At issue seems to be the “dizzying pace” by which poor Indians are getting online with smart phones and who are sharing memes and posting commentary that runs afoul of regulations. Families are shocked by the aggression with which the police are cracking down on the unpopular speech.
Live Mint

Microsoft calls for laws to prevent bias in AI
The new legislation should aim to reign in artificial intelligence software for recognizing faces. “This includes where decisions may create a risk of bodily or emotional harm to a consumer, where there may be implications on human or fundamental rights, or where a consumer’s personal freedom or privacy may be impinged,” Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said in a related blog post. In addition to regulation, safeguards should include transparency and the ability to be audited by outside groups, they say. 


The Woke Leader

Algorithms are opinions
“I was struck by what I thought was essentially a lie,” says US data scientist Cathy O’Neil, author of Weapons of Math Destruction in this compelling short animated video. “Namely that algorithms were being presented and marketed as objective fact. A much more accurate description of an algorithm is that it’s an opinion, embedded in math.” It’s a scaled up version of what we do in our brains, which is take an experience you regularly have—like making dinner for your family—and making a series of decisions to optimize that experience according to a variety of variables. Or in her terms, “a historical dataset and a definition of success.”  The power embedded in who gets to collect and curate that data and define success is where the problems come in, which any kid who won't eat their vegetables can tell you.

TIME’S UP is one year old, let’s go shopping
To mark the occasion, the advocacy group is partnering with eBay to raise fund for the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, which helps anyone who is experiencing sexual misconduct in the workplace of any kind with legal and public relations expertise. Now, through December 20, savvy shoppers can bid for all kinds of interesting experiences with their favorite woke celebs, like a trip to meet Ava DuVernay on her creative campus ARRAY, or other celebrity memorabilia. It’s not eBay’s first foray into progressive philanthropy. “Equality, safety, diversity, inclusion and purpose are integral to eBay’s culture and business,” says Brenda Halkias, General Manager, eBay for Charity.

Can blind people be racist?
Sure, they found the wokest blind people around for this short video, but that doesn’t change the fact that these good-natured, mostly white folks took the question seriously and had real insights to share. It appears to be from a series that seeks to deconstruct blindness, not race, so the same crew were asked a bunch of questions in subsequent videos. But the race question is interesting for reasons beyond the obvious. While their blindness does, for some, take racial cues out of their interactions at least initially, most were honest about the fact that “seeing race” had nothing to do with eyesight. Most had been tempted to stereotype others, and one was said that her blindness did little to negate her white privilege. “Yes, I’m racist, I think every white person is racist,” she said. “I participate in institutions, I benefit from capitalism which was built on slavery and racism.”


I shall not go to the polls. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say. There is no third party. On the ballot in a few states, a “Socialist” Party will appear. Few will hear its appeal because it will have almost no opportunity to take part in the campaign and explain its platform…Anything he advocates by way of significant reform will be called “Communist” and will of necessity be Communist in the sense that it must advocate such things as government ownership of the means of production; government in business; the limitation of private profit; social medicine, government housing and federal aid to education; the total abolition of race bias; and the welfare state. 
W.E.B. Du Bois

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