The flurry of news — from open letters, to apologies, to media exclusives — about racial and gender imbalances in Silicon Valley, the self-proclaimed tech innovation capital of the world, has sent shockwaves across the community. In June, for instance, the New York Times ran a story that shone a light on the corrosive culture of sexual harassment in the tech startup scene. This reality has affected the community’s workforce: Many women and minority entrepreneurs now seem to be turning away from Silicon Valley, launching startups away from the epicenter of innovation.

All of this speaks to a key question: What might this unfolding workforce shift mean for underrepresented entrepreneurs across the country?

To understand the change afoot, it’s helpful to get a snapshot of the tech landscape. And what we see, regrettably, is that for many underrepresented entrepreneurs, the above grim news isn’t surprising. There’s a reason why the Silicon Valley investor community has been called a “good old boys network.” This is also borne out in the numbers. Data shows that women-led companies receive less than 5 percent of all venture capital funding, that African-American and Latino founders receive only 1 percent of funding, and that just 0.2 percent of it goes to black women founders. Compare this to the fact that tech companies led mostly by white, male founder receive over 97 percent of all venture capital funding, and the landscape becomes particularly bleak. With data showing that almost 45 percent of total global venture-capitalinvestment resides between San Francisco, San Jose, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you’d think that only white men and people who live in California or northeast America are capable of being a tech entrepreneur or raising venture capital.

For an industry that lives off of and trumpets disruption, it’s time for it to disrupt its own patterns of entrenched bias and elitism.

Fortunately, women and minority entrepreneurs aren’t sitting idly by. Over the past three years, Silicon Valley has seen the rise of underrepresented entrepreneurs such as…[continue reading]

Wayne Sutton is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Change Catalyst and its Tech Inclusion programs. Change Catalyst is dedicated to exploring innovative solutions to diversity and inclusion in tech through the Tech Inclusion Conference, training and the Change Catalyst Startup Fellows program. Wayne is a New America CA Fellow.