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Adan Faudoa, 24, grew up in the Bay Area, near Silicon Valley, but he didn’t always think he’d be a tech guy. His dad had other plans for him.
“As a kid, my dad was a big gear head,” Faudoa says, “so, he was pushing me in the direction, like ‘You have to be an auto mechanic, Adan, because this is where the money is at.’ ”
But over time, Faudoa began to see things a little differently. He noticed the people moving into his neighborhood were programmers and people working for tech companies. He decided he’d fight hard to become one of them even though there aren’t too many people of color in the industry. In the end, he landed a job at the music streaming service Pandora, one of the first tech companies to set up shop in Oakland. Now, there’s an emerging startup scene.
Tech pioneer Mitch Kapor also gambled on Oakland. Kapor says that in the not-so-distant past when he told people that tech would come to Oakland, they were skeptical. “Five years ago, people thought I’d grown a second head,” Kapor says.
But Kapor and his wife, Freada Kapor Klein, saw Oakland as the perfect place to carry out their shared mission: to create diversity within tech.
“There’s all of the platitudes that diversity’s good for business,” Kapor Klein says. “But you look around tech, and you look at how hugely profitable companies like Google and Facebook — all these behemoths — and they’re staggeringly undiverse, and they’re doing just fine. So we need to focus on different strategies.”
The Kapors invest in strategies that eliminate bias in the tech industry, whether it’s through new training programs or by redesigning the application process and performance reviews. Kapor says that sometimes the culture of the workplace itself can be the problem.
“If a company is made up entirely of, let’s say, recent Stanford graduates, maybe fraternity brothers, and there’s sort of a bro culture, you’re going to feel left out,” he says. “You can’t actually be who you are.”
Read and listen to the rest of the story by Pendarvis Harshaw here.
IMAGE: Adan Faudoa (photo credit) Pendarvis Harshaw/Youth Radio