December 28, 2018
As 2018 ends, we reflect on a year of both progress and promises yet to be fulfilled. Many of our accomplishments are tied to the TechTown Diversity Pledge. And as we look back, we also see a path forward – toward greater engagement in creating an equitable tech community and building a broader community committed to diversity and inclusion.
In welcoming growth-stage startup Torch 3D, the established firm Janrain, and multinationals Vacasa, Autodesk and SurveyMonkey, TechTown is helping additional companies build more inclusive workplaces and diverse workforces. We expect to see more companies join us in the coming year.
With the anticipated addition of a company in early January 2019 the number of employees employed by TechTown companies will surpass 3,000, accounting for one in every five tech workers in Portland. If you work at a company not already part of TechTown and are interested in learning how to join, let us know.
In August, TechTown, through support from Prosper Portland and Puppet, brought in Frame Shift Consulting to lead an all-day training. The 20 attendees received the skills to co-lead three-hour sessions for 20-30 individuals from TechTown companies. The pool of trainers has now grown from four to twenty-four, with a refined training program, defined goals, and a process to help ensure that those trained use the skills they’ve acquired. In total, more than 100 people received training in 2018.
In 2019, we hope to train 300 people who will be able to use their new skills in specific workplace interactions and positively shape workplace culture overall. The latter is less tangible but an important long-term goal.
Twelve TechTown companies supported the Advancing the Careers of Technical Women (ACT-W) Portland Conference, led by Marcus Carter and Cloudability, enabled 68 high school girls to attend the conference. These students joined more than 500 women in tech to hear speakers, participate in hands-on workshops, one-on-one coaching, and a career fair. TechTown companies hosted both a VIP lunch where high schoolers met in small groups with employees from TechTown companies, and a standing-room-only session with panelists from TechTown companies speaking to the high schoolers and other attendees.
The Tech Inclusion Conference in San Francisco drew 10 employees of TechTown companies. The conference is a two-day event followed by a career fair with more than one thousand attendees. Jama Software, AWS Elemental, New Relic and Puppet participated under the TechTown umbrella with representatives of each company taking the stage to share their experiences with the collective action approach of TechTown.
2018 saw TechTown deepen partnerships with leading member organizations in tech, in particular PDX Women in Technology (PDX WIT) and the Technology Association of Oregon (TAO).
Internally, TechTown modified its approach to better support companies and their employees. In 2018 TechTown touched more than 1,600 tech workers, held 28 internal TechTown sessions with 350 attendees, and modified the morning sessions (open to all employees of all TechTown companies) to improve engagement and learning. The TechTown website, Resource Library and Slack channel saw enhancements and increased traffic, a quarterly CEO Roundtable debuted, and the 2018 Company Scorecards have more usable information for companies. Data scientists and industry cluster experts weighed in on how to adapt to do even more in 2019 and beyond.
Any progress we have made is due to the commitment of many dedicated individuals at TechTown companies who prioritize this work. Equally important are the resources Prosper Portland has devoted to this effort. Prosper Portland brings the group together regularly, provides staff and financial resources to support partnerships and develop programming, and has stepped in to lead when leading has been difficult but necessary.
We have much more to solve but this look back reminds us of how much was done in 2018. We leave the year more optimistic about Portland’s progress on building a more inclusive and diverse tech industry. TechTown and member companies have played a role in this optimism as well as countless individuals and organizations. As we leave 2018 even more is planned for 2019.
While further development is needed, here are a few things you should see more of in the year ahead. First, you should see significantly more engagement by TechTown with people and organizations throughout Portland. We will be more visible at community events and will work with more organizations connected to Portland Tech as well as those focused on supporting the workforce of tomorrow.
Secondly, you will see expanded visibility and information on the News & Stories page with the goal of information sharing and increased transparency. 2019 will see more companies joining TechTown, more training focused on improving the work environment, and finally a streamlined focus on the core TechTown tenets within the five actions: recruiting diverse talent (Actions 1 & 2) and retention (Actions 3 & 4).
Wishing everyone a happy and prosperous 2019.
– Jared Wiener
Technology Industry Liaison
Portland tech companies have joined the Diversity & Inclusion Pledge since its initial launch in 2015.