Announcing the Founding Members of the TechEquity Collaborative
Earlier this year, we announced the launch of the TechEquity Collaborative and a few months later outlined our approach to focus on working with companies (specifically tech companies based in Oakland) to help them build a culture of inclusion, representation and community engagement. Our member companies sign on to a statement of values and make commitments to embedding those values in the way they do business.
I’m so happy to announce that we have signed on our first cohort of corporate members to the TechEquity Collaborative. They are:
- Captricity, a Software-as-a-service, paper-to-dgital technology that provides access to data by using Machine Learning to read paper forms
- Clef,Inc., a customer identity solutions company that creates a password-free authentication product for online accounts
- Comfy (formerly Building Robotics), which develops smart building software to allow employees to individually control temperatures in their working environment
We kept this initial cohort purposefully small so that we could learn as much as possible about what kind of support companies need and how the TechEquity Collaborative can be best positioned to support them. Our plan is to add new cohorts every quarter and for future cohorts to consist of eight to ten companies.
Each of our member company agrees to do four standard things:
- Submit demographic data: Collect and share data about the diversity of the staff and the hiring pool
- Be transparent: Publish an annual report about progress towards their TechEquity commitments and participate in an ongoing way in public dialogue about successes, challenges, and learnings
- Engage at the highest levels of the company: Mandate from the most senior level of the company to invest in meeting commitments and participation from senior staff in an ongoing basis throughout the year
- Invite participation from across the company: Creating broad awareness across the company about membership in TechEquity and creating invitations for all staff members to participate
In addition to the standard commitments, each company makes at least three additional commitments that reinforce the principles outlined in the statement of values above. We work with each company to craft a set of commitments that aligns with their size, specific challenges, unique identity, and growth trajectory. Here are the commitments made by our founding members:
At about 80 employees, Captricity is the largest company in our founding cohort. As such, their commitments reflect their size and relative maturity. Captricity has committed to:
- Expand their existing customer success and engineering internship programs to increase local hiring. They have also committed to documenting their program and their work towards this commitment so it is replicable at other member companies.
- Expand Captricity.org (the half of their social enterprise organization that offers subsidized Captricity products and servics to NGOs and non-profits) to support more Oakland-based organizations and small businesses
- Develop and implement a diversity and inclusion strategy across the company
At seven employees, Clef is the smallest company in our founding cohort but when it comes to inclusion and community engagement it punches well above its weight. Clef is well known for its monthly community dinners and Darrell Jones III, Clef’s Director of Business Development, is a co-founder of the TechEquity Collaborative. Clef has committed to:
- Interview at least one candidate from Oakland (native or long-time resident) for every hire Clef makes
- Active participation from Clef’s CEO (Brennen Byrne) in Mayor’s Tech Advisory Committee
- Interview at least one candidate for entry-level business development roles that are sourced from Hustle [Hustle is a tech bootcamp specifically for business development training]
Comfy is a company on the rise. Currently with 40 employees they plan to add several positions this year. As such their commitments focus on both hiring and developing an inclusive company culture as they grow. Comfy has committed to:
- Hold training for all staff on unconscious bias and inclusiveness in the workplace
- Spend 50% of procurement budget for food and supplies at local Oakland businesses
- Adopt a candidate sourcing and hiring process that increases number of hires from underrepresented communities and communities of color in Oakland into open positions
- Develop a plan for creating entry-level positions and apprenticeships across the organization; apply aforementioned candidate sourcing and hiring process to filling these new positions
We will work with these companies over the course of the next year to help them meet — and hopefully exceed — these commitments. The companies are certainly not limited to what has been scoped out here, and we hope that the process of working towards meeting these commitments encourages a cultural shift within the companies that results in more commitments and actions that promote our values. We already have early feedback from our members that just being a part of the TechEquity Collaborative has caused them to think about everything they do through an equity lens.
We at the TechEquity Collaborative will also learn through the process of supporting these companies about what programming we can create that, at scale, will increase access to the tech-driven economy for all Oaklanders and strengthen the social and civic fabric of the city as it grows and changes. We also hope the Oakland tech ecosystem can serve as a model for cities around the world about how a tech sector can grow while creating opportunity for all.
If you’re a tech company based in Oakland and want to be a part of one of our future cohorts, send a note to eastbaytechequity at gmail dot com and we’ll follow up.