Black lawmakers will travel to Silicon Valley to push diversity

Black lawmakers will travel to Silicon Valley to push diversity

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) will travel to Silicon Valley on Oct. 16 to press tech leaders to increase the diversity within their companies.

Co-chairs of the CBC Diversity Task Force, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Rep. G.K. ButterfieldGeorge (G.K.) Kenneth ButterfieldBlack lawmakers give tech sector low marks amid Silicon Valley trip Week ahead in tech: Black Caucus takes diversity push to Silicon Valley Overnight Tech: Black lawmakers press Sandberg on diversity at Facebook | Dems want hearing on Trump tweets about media | Watchdog to probe alleged FCC cyberattack MORE (D-N.C.), will meet with major technology firms in the Bay Area during the trip.

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Lee and Butterfield will kick off the meetings with a press conference at the headquarters of Hustle, a mass messaging app that was popular for campaigns during the 2016 election. Technology firms participating in meetings after the press conference have not been finalized.

Brandon Nicholson, founding executive director of the Hidden Genius Project, an organization that aims to increase the participation of black male youths in the technology sector, will also attend the press conference with the lawmakers prior to the meetings.  

The aim of the meetings is not just to have conversations about diversity but to get technology companies to move forward with action on the matter, a Congressional aide with knowledge of the meetings said.

News of the meeting follows the CBC’s separate meeting with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg on Thursday. During the meeting, members, including Butterfield and Lee, pressed Sandberg on the lack of diversity at Facebook, particularly among its executives and on its board.

“The fact that no African-Americans serve on the board of directors, there are no African-Americans in their C-suite. That is unacceptable,” Butterfield told reporters after the meeting.

Sandberg committed to bringing a black director onto the company’s board “within the foreseeable” future, according to lawmakers in the meeting.

The aide said the California trip was in the works before the CBC’s meeting with Sandberg was planned and notes that increasing diversity and inclusion in Silicon Valley has been a longstanding priority for the caucus.

A separate aide told The Hill prior to the meeting that some members of the CBC had formed a coalition dedicated to drawing the line on lack of racial inclusion at technology companies.