We’ve made a commitment to baking diversity, equity, and inclusion into TechCongress from day one of the organization. Accountability is a core part of those values. As such, we’re publishing key metrics of diversity at each stage of our recruitment for our 2019 class.
As we started the 2019 application cycle, we had three key communities that were priorities for our recruitment: women, Latinx, and veterans. Two of those communities— women and Latinx— are where we had, to be frank, fallen short of where we needed to be to date.
Through 2018, we’d had thirteen fellows in the program, but only four of the thirteen identified as women— just 31% of our fellows in total. The reasons for our lackluster gender diversity in our first three years are complicated. We’d absolutely fallen short of our goals, but the reasons why deserve some unpacking.
For one, women candidates have turned down the program at more than double the rate of men— a challenge we think that may have roots in the lack of flexibility in the work culture of the Congress. Capitol Hill— with almost no remote work options, or flexible hours— is an extraordinarily hard place to work for anyone with family obligations. This rigid work style results in is what TechCongress Advisor Brooke Hunter describes as “hard-coded structural barriers to entry for some of our most promising candidates.”
Although we’d worked hard to find candidates where they are, partnering with groups working directly with women in tech, and adopting the recommendations from groups like Project Include, those efforts weren’t enough. In addition to our challenges building a truly gender diverse class— parity is and always will be our goal— to date we’d also failed to have a fellow from a Latinx background.
In the end the numbers were what they were. We’d fallen short of where we should be, and as a founder, the buck stops with me.
We began the 2019 recruitment cycle determined to improve.
We distributed labor, with each of the three TechCongress recruitment staff responsible for outreach to a priority community. We paid for ads on job and message boards. We built relationships with influencers. We measured and monitored our diversity metrics every week of recruitment, and course-corrected when our numbers were falling short. And we launched a diversity referral award— to our knowledge a first in Washington or in politics.
Our work paid off. Although this is just one application cycle, the 2019 class is by many measures our most diverse yet. And we achieved gender parity for the first time.
We won't know if this success will hold for the class of 2020, but we'll be working hard to make sure it does. We recognize that building a truly equitable and inclusive organization means always striving to improve, and are always looking for new ideas. If you have thoughts, feedback, or suggestions please reach out and let us know.
Here are our diversity metrics at each key stage of our 2019 recruitment.
Total Eligible Applicants
People of Color: 45.17%
Top 60 Candidates
People of Color: 45.00%
Top 30 Candidates
People of Color: 53.33%
People of Color: 37.50%