The Biden Administration’s Impact On Inclusive Technology

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden fist bumps newly sworn-in Vice … [+] President Kamala Harris after she took the oath of office on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Biden was sworn in today as the 46th president […]

January 20, 2021 will forever be a historic day in United States history, and for all the right reasons.

In his Inauguration speech, President Joe Biden reflected, “What are the common objects we as Americans love, that define us as Americans? I think we know. Opportunity, security, liberty, dignity, respect, honor and yes, the truth.”

Each of these identifiers recall the American identity many have questioned, or even lost, many times before – and especially during this harrowing coronavirus pandemic and period of political, social and economic strife. Perhaps it is the power of remembering who we are in the context of what this nation must become that will lead us to a more just, equitable, anti-racist society. Seeing this mission come to fruition is seen as possible now largely because, in his call for unity, President Biden did not forget the work that needs to be done.

To this end, we finally witnessed the historic swearing-in of Vice President Kamala Harris as the first woman, and a Black and South Asian woman born of immigrant parents at that, to hold one of the highest offices of power and influence. While legacy does not begin and end with the great representation her identity shoulders, the status of being the first will stand the test of time.

What I don’t want to be lost on anyone is that, right away, with clear challenges to the launch of his administration, President Joe Biden displayed a clear commitment to build diverse teams of leadership that represent all kinds of people. Not only did he show initiative, but he also showed that it wasn’t hard to do. This new administration sets the new standard of how to recruit female excellence, Black and Asian female excellence, gender and ethnic diversity excellence – providing a stark visual and tactical shift for other leaders to follow.

In Biden and Harris’ Inauguration ceremony itself, Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old Black woman, took her place in history as the youngest ever Inaugural poet to give her poem to America, ‘The Hill We Climb.’ On her finger, she wore a gold ring in the form of a caged bird, a tribute to Maya Angelou who had previously been an inaugural poet, too. An administration not even 24 hours old has demonstrated what diverse peoples have known forever: inclusion is not hard. Excellent diverse talent exists in abundance. And it doesn’t take “a long time” to make it happen. To CEOs and other leaders who have been questioning if it could be done, now you know. No better example is needed. No more time needs to be wasted.

These demonstrations of commitment do great work beyond the symbolism they hold. In addressing the needs of a diverse population, healing can take place, and the rebuilding of our success as a nation can begin. It’s the stuff that innovation is made of. For businesses, it’s the stuff of better bottom lines. In a healthier democracy where more people get to engage, contribute and benefit from the progress we will make, more and different pathways to success are legitimized. For one, the need for a good education comes into focus. Dr. Jill Biden’s legacy of education is likely to shed a much-needed light on the role of schooling and showcases community college education as a critical and meaningful pathway for anyone, including women and underrepresented folks, to get degrees and good jobs.

Through the nominations and appointments of those that develop the diversity of the administration, the life paths of those who have always been overlooked, including women in tech, are legitimized.

Two weeks ago, the world saw the former U.S. President de-platformed across social media in a flood of decisions that were nothing short of revolutionary. It became painfully clear that the role technology can play in writing American history and determining the future of our democracy in one. That’s not to mention the influence it has over the success of virtually every industry. Because of the inherently enabling nature of technology, the definition of ‘regulated’ power – whether it be governmental or otherwise, is changing – but far too slowly. The skillsets and qualifications and collective diversity needed from people in positions of power who make these kinds of groundbreaking calls are transforming at an even slower pace – perhaps, until now.

The need for the tech industry to address the homogeny in its leadership teams with action is showing now more than ever. After yesterday, there is no excuse. As technology continues to take an increasingly firm hold on the world – from the state of American democracy, to the success of businesses of all sizes and beyond – it is my hope that the swiftly changing standards of what America’s leaders now look like will influence the technology industry to prioritize diversifying their makeup, and quickly. And is here to help.

Inclusive technology is more than a mantra advocating for representation. In the closing words of Amanda Gorman, “The new dawn balloons as we free it… If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

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Minneapolis could soon join a small but growing number of American cities that have banned most uses of facial recognition technology by its police and other municipal departments. The proposal, which has been quietly discussed for months among a coalition of progressive groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, was […]