America is currently at an intersection of public health and racism. The nationwide protests against police brutality have sparked conversations about racism across societies and industries. For the tech industry, especially, there is a long way to go. Technology social issues are critical to evaluate and reevaluate to see where the industry must do better.
The Boiling Point
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, the United States is facing a boiling point. The coronavirus pandemic was a national, and global, crisis on its own. However, the murder of George Floyd triggered hundreds of protests across the country as well as other continents. These protests and riots are the repressed feelings of decades of police violence and systemic racism.
The overlap between COVID-19 and police violence exposes the ways the tech industry has perpetuated racism. Contact tracing has shown that the virus disproportionately affects black and brown communities. Though this tracing is one way tech sheds light on systemic racism, the industry has a racist history of its own.
Technology Social Issues: How Tech Perpetuates Racism
Though it can be hard to see, different types of technology play a role in racism — including profiling, stereotyping and marginalizing.
Facial recognition technology has come to the center of the tech-race conversation. Recently, IBM vowed to quit facial recognition production due to the tendency of the devices to racially profile. Amazon put a one-year moratorium on facial recognition tech as well. In several instances, the software has led to the disproportionate arrests of innocent black and latinx individuals.
Credit scoring, too, has a racial bias. Research has shown that some credit scoring algorithms will wrongfully identify risks within black communities, especially in low-income areas. These factors can prevent people of color from applying for loans and jobs as well as buying homes.
In the video game realm, representation is lacking. If you’ve ever played a video game with limited character representation, you’ll know most players are white males. That lack of representation extends into the industry, too. Women of color, across different countries, make up small percentages of video game developers.
The content reflects the workplace. Gender is a key factor in discussions about race — the tech industry lacks gender equality, especially with women of color.
Of black employees that work in big tech firms, racism is a daily ordeal as well. With the current movements and protests, more and more black employees are speaking out about their experiences with racist employers or corporations. However, there are steps you, and all tech companies, can take to help
Ways Tech Companies Can Help Solve Social Issues
Actions are the key to helping during this time. Whether it’s through education, donations or spreading resources, everyone can play a part in encouraging the momentum.
Police have arrested thousands of protestors who currently need financial help. The National Bail Fund Network allows you to donate to various communities, resources and individuals who need the funding.
For legal defense, you can donate to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, which will provide better resources for those who need to defend themselves.
If you’d like to help black trans women, you can donate to the Black Trans Travel Fund — an organization that provides resources for black trans women to safely travel and relocate.
These funds are only a few resources that keep the support going. When tech companies donate to actionable organizations, they show a dedication to equality through giving to black communities and individuals.
- Black-Owned Tech Companies
Additionally, the tech industry has black leaders all across the country. Here are three examples of black-owned tech companies that you can support:
AbiliLife takes a helpful approach to disability assistance with its Calibrace+ backpack. This company focuses on elderly patients with neurodegenerative illnesses. The backpack helps with balance, posture, the ability to swallow and pain reduction.
Kiverdi is a sustainable, green tech company that seeks to reduce carbon emissions. It uses single-cell organisms in its food conversion process so that carbon dioxide becomes food.
Black Girls Code focuses on young black girls, ages 7-17, to help them in the STEM field. With programs, workshops and classes, this company helps black girls learn and take an interest in the industry.
Taking Steps Forward
The tech industry has a role to play in building a more equal world. Technology social issues, across the board, overlap — from race to gender. The first step is to acknowledge the past and move forward with actionable steps. Speaking up, donating and educating yourself and others are the current paths to making a difference.