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Can the private sector save the world? Part II

Problems like equal opportunity

The big picture, Part II

No combination of private and public institutional forces will ever fully resolve the vexing global problems that define our era. That said, positive change is progressing rapidly on some issues while regressing on others…

–This is especially evident when comparing social-economic problems like equal opportunity with broader environmental/technical challenges. (I’ll cover the latter in Part III of this article).

Moving towards equal opportunity

Even in the tech industry, progress has been more evolutionary than revolutionary on most equal opportunity fronts. For example, in the U.S., female full-time workers make approximately 78 cents for every dollar earned by men. Though the difference is less in high tech, female representation in industry’s leadership positions still lags.

In addition, the current wealth gap between whites and blacks has increased to a factor of 13–while the white-to-Hispanic wealth ratio is the highest it’s been in 15 years. That said, when income/social class is factored in, differences decrease significantly for race/ethnicity. And, speaking more broadly, there is no clear solution to the global income inequality pandemic between the top-tiered ultra rich and everyone else.

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Many tech leaders still maintain that theirs is a pure meritocracy, where talent and hard work are the only determiners of advancement. Critics, however, disagree… In a recent statement, spokespeople for the Kapor Center for Social Impact in California claimed that Silicon Valley has a ‘dismal representation’ of women and minorities in their workforce. In fact, until recent social pressure from civil rights leaders, tech industry employment statistics were not disclosed.

A few activist tech companies have been working to increase representation of women and minorities in certificate and degree-related computer programming. Similar efforts, plus better training for hiring managers are promising developments.

Of course, even the best intentions can backfire as we all saw with Starbuck’s recent ‘Race Together’ effort to stimulate constructive dialogue.

In Part III of this blog, I’ll provide an overview of Private Sector’s environmental initiatives and corporate efforts to help fund the repair of our crumbling infrastructure.

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