Op-Ed: How the business and tech communities can help erase the digital divide

The computer science industry is filled with talented techies, most of whom are white or Asian. Black professionals make up only 5% of the tech workforce, a segment that increased by only 1 percentage point between 2014 and 2020, according to a recent report. That’s unacceptable.

Much is made of the digital divide, but little has been done to eradicate it. Bias in artificial intelligence, its algorithms and its training data are direct byproducts of the divide. These biases are more dangerous than ever because they can impact decision-making on a massive scale and at breakneck speeds, hindering business in all sectors of the economy.

To help solve this problem, we need to get more underrepresented communities into careers in computing and engineering, especially data science. More, and different, perspectives can only help lead to better products and services. At the same time, we can truly advance a Black and brown middle class, and create generational wealth, boosting economic growth and providing an entire new set of industries and opportunities across the nation.

It won’t be easy to grow such a culture of tech producers in underrepresented communities, but it is absolutely doable.

The organization I lead, Memphis-based CodeCrew, and others such as the California-based Black Girls Code, are working to build that culture into the heart of Black and brown communities.

The potential economic impact is significant. Computer science graduates of CodeCrew’s adult codi