How the tech industry is uniquely positioned to solve our biggest societal challenges


Lauren Sato, CEO of Ada Developers Academy

When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, While depriving millions of Americans of our basic right to critical health care, I was having breakfast with a group of female executives during a strategy retreat in the Pacific Northwest. We cried together as we digested the news, then quickly focused our grief and anger on the question, “What can we do about this?” Like many people affected by this decision, our brainstorming ranged from quitting our day job to working on campaigns. We discussed what action to take, given our areas of expertise and the unique positions we hold in our communities. We are leaders of a coding school for women and gender expansive people, which gave us the idea of ​​a hackathon. we have a alumni community of more than 700 people, along with their managers, mentors and colleagues, meaning we are surrounded by a large number of tech talent who are also deeply affected by the Dobbs decision.

The problem

When people of childbearing potential are not allowed to control whether and when they will have a baby, health, education and economic well-being are at stake. When more than 50% of our population is at higher risk of pregnancy-related illness, disability and death, we all suffer. As people with unwanted pregnancies drop out of school or delay their educationleave the workforce, or are overlooked for promotions, our economy can slow down and lag behind, for which we will all pay the price.

The solution

Technology is the cultural engine of our time. Since the start of the technology boom, the industry has focused on solving a very limited number of social problems, because it is largely built and managed by a small and exclusive demographic of white males. As a coding school for women and people of more gender, with over 70% of our cohorts from underrepresented racial communities, we are in a position to harness the power of technology to solve the problems our communities face: the deprivation of our reproductive, transgender and gay rights, and the continued racial oppression of the BIPOC communities. That is the goal of our hackathon: to create a big bang in the scope of problems that technology must solve, and have a meaningful impact on today’s most pressing societal problems.

Technologists and tech leaders everywhere can make an impact at this moment of unprecedented social pain in our country. Here are some ways to leverage your highly influential positions and skills.


• Volunteer your coding, UI, UX, security, and marketing skills with a social impact organization that may do a great job, but doesn’t have the scalable impact of a robust website, social media strategy, etc.

• Join an existing hackathon or create your own. I love this guide by Joshua Tauberer to get started.

• Devise new ways to educate and engage voters, raise money for charity, etc.

Technical leaders:

• Create ongoing channels for affinity and employee resource groups to inform your business strategy. You may be missing critical opportunities to make a meaningful impact on your consumers. Influencing women up to 80% of consumer purchasing decisions, but only about 25% of the technical staff are women.

• Build partnerships with organizations that do great work, but lack the scalable leverage of technology. Give them visibility, donate employee time (including loaned executives), and traditional fundraising support.

Much is already being done within the tech sector to influence critical social issues. For example, Microsoft has been working to identify, study and tackling the spread of misinformation. One of our alumni led the technical work of an organization that used technology to stop human trafficking for many years. There are also organizations such as Ecosia, which links your daily search engine use to global conservation efforts, and Syndio, which uses technology to evaluate and close the gender pay gap at large companies.

After the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, I heard of many people quitting their jobs to work for grassroots organizations. To be honest, I’ve considered this myself. However, I realized that I can have the biggest impact where I am now. I believe that’s true for so much of the tech community; we just haven’t built the muscle to respond at this critical moment. So it’s time for a catalytic and direction change. I hope our Take Haction! hackathon can serve as a model for impact-driven working with critical voices at the table. Business Council is the leading growth and networking organization for entrepreneurs and leaders. Am I eligible?


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