Congressional Black Caucus pushes tech associations on diversity

Congressional Black Caucus pushes tech associations on diversity
© Greg Nash

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is pushing technology and telecommunications lobbying groups representing major firms like Google, Facebook, AT&T and Verizon to address diversity within the ranks of their policy teams.

“On behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus, we write today to express our concerns with the diversity recruitment efforts of the member companies within your associations,” members of the caucus wrote in a Feb. 22 letter obtained by The Hill.

The caucus explained in its letter that according to recent data African-Americans tend to over-index on different technology platforms and with smartphone usage.

“For these stated reasons, it is imperative that the communications workforce reflect its consumers who drive the industry, especially African-American consumers,” they wrote.

In their letter, addressed to the Internet Association, USTelecom, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and CTIA, the CBC pressed the lobbying groups for information on how many black board members they and their member companies have. The letter also requested information on how many black individuals serve on their executive leadership teams and how many black employees they have on their government relations teams.

The CBC’s letter comes amid a larger push to increase diversity efforts at technology companies and among general Washington, D.C., lobbying groups.

As a part of its Tech 2020 initiative, CBC members grilled Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg on the social media company’s lacking corporate diversity. Separately in May, CBC members urged D.C. lobbying groups to improve diversity within their staffs.

Facebook has since hired a black board member and pledged to add an African-American to its government relations team in D.C. The Internet Association also announced that it is creating a “director of diversity and inclusion" role.

Members of the CBC have been pushing other companies and groups to take similar steps.