Laura Gomez has worked for some of Silicon Valley’s most influential companies. From Twitter and Google to YouTube and Hewlett-Packard, she has over a quarter-million Twitter followers and she belongs to the miniscule 3 percent of Latinos in the tech industry.
In an effort to increase the meager number, a couple of years ago Gomez and seven of her female colleagues started getting together to come up with a plan. After all, they had over 150 years of tech experience between them.
The result was Project Include, in essence a go-to online manual with solutions for the very challenging issue of diversity in tech.
“Silicon Valley has fallen into a pattern of what an engineer looks like. That’s worked for decades. Those conversations are now shifting,” Gomez told Fox News Latino.
For now Project Include, which launched earlier this month, focuses primarily on start-ups – an industry the group believes would be the most open to change.
The backbone of Project Include (PI) is a comprehensive list of seven customizable recommendations for CEOs, leaders and managers that can be used to help accelerate diversity.
“The framework is an inclusive and holistic approach to have a more complete environment,” Gomez said.
Gomez explained PI is not simply focused on gender, but race and age as well.
“It’s a multidimensional approach. What was established decades ago on how to build a tech company has to change,” Gomez told FNL.
“And we want a buy-in from everyone from employees to investors to CEOs.”
Like any tech company, Gomez said, PI is no different. They’re highly focused on metrics and data.
“You have to know where you’re starting, and then you can implement changes,” she said – and the first step is to open it all up.
From hiring to attrition and pay raises, they are looking to get even what she calls the “uncomfortable data.”
Gomez said she’s overwhelmed by the interest in PI — currently there are over 800 interested companies in getting their guidance, she said.
“We’re still trying to figure out how not to be watchdog, but a recommendation initiative, offering a variety of voices, all thinking about this on a collective level.”
All the women involved in PI are have a second job.
“Silicon Valley should be on par with the national average and at least reflect the demographics of California. We’d like to have it be older mothers returning to work, veterans, the disabled, and LGBT people,” Gomez said.
“Then Silicon Valley benefits,” she added.