Equity in Tech: How 2020 Became diversitable’s Origin Story

Reposted from Makah Encarnacao’s Soliant Consulting blog post.

2020 was a pivotal year for join::table, a non-profit I co-founded back in April 2019. At the beginning of 2020, everything seemed normal and simple. We only had one initiative: to match up non-profits in need of tech help with developer volunteers from the Claris community. We had great conversations with wonderful non-profits asking for help, such as Abraham Kriel Children’s Home, an orphanage in South Africa, and The ʻŌpio of Nā Wai Ola, a cultural dance school in Hawaii.

In March 2020, everyone’s reality changed when COVID-19 hit. join::table was also affected, as we teamed up with Claris to form the Claris Covid Response Team. We were pushed into high gear to facilitate the creation of pro bono COVID-related apps for frontline workers and organizations directly impacted by COVID. We had very early mornings and sometimes very long days, but we felt like we were making an impact, no matter how small, to fight against a global pandemic.

Chris Kubica facilitated a project in Belgium to help doctors quickly triage patients using a decision tree logic created in FileMaker with the help of a volunteer, Fabrice Nordmann. Molly Connolly led the efforts to build an app for apartment complexes to ensure they are following COVID safe practices when cleaning buildings, developed by volunteer Steve Gleason. I helped a dentist in France find a pro bono development team with V-Hicule Media of Canada, so dental emergencies can be processed while all offices were shut down due to COVID. We gained so many eager and generous volunteers in 2020 that we couldn’t even use them all. A huge thank you to all of the volunteers who were assigned to help.

Our world was shaken again in 2020, on May 25th, with the death of George Floyd. As a non-profit, we paused to reflect on systemic racism. We reflected on our own emotional response and the possibilities we had to take action. We discussed the reality of our world, our bubble, and what options we have to improve it. We knew we had to do something. We decided to create a third initiative for join::table, named diversitable. The goal of diversitable is to increase diversity in the tech space. We immediately got to work, and in the last 11 months, we were able to:

  • Add two new members to our leadership team at join::table: Darrin Williams of Modern Health and Jake Johnson of Angel City Data
  • Create a diversitable committee, which includes: Vanessa Costanzo of NaviCu, Beth Murillo of The Scarpetta Group, Thad Murillo of DRW, and Kate Waldhauser of Portage Bay Solutions
  • Added a marketing advisor to the team: Iliana Andreevska
  • Created a strategy to increase diversity in tech:
    • Mentorship: matching up applicants with volunteers to help with technical and non-technical training
    • Resources: compiling a list of resources to maximize mentorship success
    • Resume Assistance: helping applicants create successful resumes
    • Interview Prep: preparing applicants for job and internship interviews
    • Networking: Connecting our applicants with the people who can most help
    • Tools: Helping our applications build a roadmap for success and track their progress along the way through an app. We also created a resume-building app to allow for efficient and beautiful resume creation.
  • We talked to and partnered up with some amazing organizations that are joining us in our quest to increase diversity in tech:
    • Women Innovating Together
    • Claris International
    • Blacks In Technology
    • Qwasar
    • Boys and Girls Club of Arizona
    • EONXI
    • Courageous Convictions
    • IAm STEM Project

We created a plan, we grew our team, we built the tools, and we grew our support system. And I am super excited that just shy of the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s passing, we have launched, we are spreading the word, and we are accepting applications for diversitable.

2020 forced us to pivot, and we had no choice but to adapt. With the reflection of our reality, we change to build a brighter reality for the future. The launch of diversitable is just the start, and the real work is about to begin.

If you’d like to volunteer to be a diversitable mentor, please sign up here.

If you are interested in applying for diversitable, please sign up here.