The tech industry is facing a diversity gap in its workforce, prompting some companies to take part in recruitment and retention initiatives.
A study by the Kapor Center and the NAACP finds that between 2014 and 2021, there was only a 1% increase in Black representation within technical roles at large tech companies. It also found that Black talent represents 3.7% of those technical roles despite accounting for 13% of the labor force.
The trading firm DRW, located in the West Loop, started its technical apprenticeship program in the summer of 2020 to train people for a career in tech and widen the pipeline for a diverse group of candidates.
“The apprenticeship program is one of those programs trying to make a concerted effort to make a change,” said Brawnski Armstrong, senior software engineer and engineering manager at the trading firm DRW. “We’re not counting on folks magically learning how to program computers overnight.”
The Chicago-based software company Five to Nine helps companies manage their events and also provides analytics on how well company initiatives are helping retain employees. Co-founder and CEO Jasmine Shells has raised over $5 million from investors for the company.
“It’s about representation,” Shells said. “It’s about defying the odds.”