Tech Stands Up: A Manifesto

By: Brad Taylor & Mckenzie Lock

Walk into many tech firms, and you are likely to see a set of company values hanging on their walls. Some of those values are inclusion, transparency, innovation, diversity, openness, ownership, and empathy. Today those values are under attack. Now is the time for all tech companies to stand up for these values and prove that those values are more than just hoodie slogans.

From semiconductors to search engines, Silicon Valley has given rise to some of the greatest technological innovations of the century. It is this history of invention and progress that has inspired thousands of entrepreneurs to risk it all for that big idea and attracts some of the world’s most creative and talented people to our industry.

However, the pace of change is accelerating and, unfortunately, not everyone is equipped to keep up. Throughout history these changes have been generational; however, today entire industries and communities can be disrupted in the matter of years, not decades. We can not sit idly by while this happens. We saw throughout the U.S. presidential election what can happen when people are ignored and left behind.

Tech Stands Up is a grassroots movement formed to encourage the tech industry to defend our values within our companies, our communities, and our country.

We believe that:

  • Tech has a responsibility: With great power, comes great responsibility. With its talents and resources, tech has the duty to stand up and be a leader for progress, especially when there is a lack of leadership in Washington.
  • Our country is our most valuable startup: Participation, the idea that those who contribute control outcomes, is not only a principle of the Open Source movement; it’s also critical to democracy and progress. We believe that the best way of participating is by stepping outside your comfort zone and investing your time, money, and skills into the causes that you believe in.

Our goal is to encourage and enable members of the tech community to:

  1. Participate: Devote their time, money, and skills to improving their communities and our country. We do this by connecting tech workers to civic organizations and causes that are making a difference.
  2. Empathize: Build bridges between the tech industry and people whose lives have been disrupted by it. We do this by partnering with local organizations to identify and respond to current concerns and partner on developing solutions to mitigate the impact of future disruptions.
  3. Mobilize: Join companies that share their values and organize from within to work with, and, when necessary, put pressure on tech leaders to:
  • Promote social equity and inclusion in the workplace and public policy. This includes setting specific goals to fight discrimination and bias on the basis of gender, race, religion, nationality, disability, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation; recruiting and advancing diverse talent (including in executive leadership and boards); and building truly inclusive cultures.
  • Protect at-risk employees, contractors, and neighbors, including providing legal support and training and, when necessary, using political and legal resources to prevent unjust deportation or restriction of visas.
  • Encourage tech companies to address the industry’s impact on economic inequality:
  • Internally, by ensuring contractors earn a living wage and decent benefits.
  • Locally, by financially and politically supporting affordable housing.
  • Globally, by finding creative solutions to economically empower communities who may be displaced by technology.

We have been forced to confront some uncomfortable truths head on: that while technological advancement has improved lives, it has also disrupted livelihoods. That bubbles don’t just form in the stock market but within societies — and that everyone suffers when they pop. That “changing the world” requires more than building apps and algorithms, but rather leveraging those technologies for good. And finally, that economic and social progress is not only the responsibility of those in Washington but of everyone, especially those with the ability to affect them.

If there is one thing the garages and basements of Silicon Valley have proven it is that small groups of determined people can change the world. Now is the time that tech stands up.

For more information about speakers, organizations and activities at our March 14th Pi Day Rally, Please visit www.techstandsup.org.

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