Press Release

Public Knowledge Launches Report Examining Racial Diversity in Technology Policy

February 15, 2021 , ,
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Today, we’re happy to announce our newest report, “Diversity in Early-Career Tech Policy Roles: Challenges and Opportunities,” by Public Knowledge Communications Justice Fellow Tsion Tesfaye. The report stems from a research project supported by the Nielsen Foundation and the Democracy Fund.

It’s more clear than ever that technology will increasingly integrate into our daily lives. From the nation’s digital divide to our lack of a federal privacy law protecting consumers, these enormous challenges have already sparked a debate about what role technology, and therefore Big Tech, should have in our lives. In order to achieve equitable outcomes, people of color must be represented in these debates.

The report explores racial and ethnic diversity in early-career roles in technology policy, offers ideas for increasing diversity in such roles, and outlines the impacts of technology policy on people of color. The report grows the body of knowledge about diversity in public interest groups while raising awareness of the most promising practices groups can implement to attract — and retain — diverse advocates.

This report includes a survey of technology policy organizations and found that:

  • Job opportunities are circulated primarily within the tech policy groups and their networks, therefore making access to these networks crucial for entering the field.
  • Job description content can influence the applicant pool, decreasing or increasing the pool of diverse applicants.
  • There is a lack of data on early-career hiring in technology policy nonprofits; encouraging data collection could increase diversity.

The following can be attributed to Tsion Tesfaye, Communications Justice Fellow at Public Knowledge:

“As technology becomes increasingly integrated into our daily lives, it’s important that people of color are both represented in policy discussions and empowered to raise questions about who benefits — and who doesn’t — by a technology’s use. 

“As we share in this report, many people of color find it insufficient for others to advocate for policies they think are equitable, no matter how well-meaning they are; instead, people of color must also be in the room where organizations are making these policy decisions and be empowered to voice their perspectives on policy. 

“Early-career opportunities offer people of color a pathway to building careers in technology policy, and we hope this report illuminates some barriers and serves as a resource as public interest groups to seek to include more diverse voices.”

You may view the report here. You may also view our latest blog post, “We Need People of Color at the Table if We Want Technology Policy That Works for Everyone,” for more information, or register for our webinar, “A Seat at the Table: How Tech Policy Groups Can Welcome Diverse Talent” to join the conversation.