20 Jan What would MLK dream of today?
“I Have a Dream,” he said over fifty years ago. And yet today Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would still be dreaming of that day when this nation will “live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.” MLK’s dream is also what the historian James Truslow Adams referred to as the American Dream in 1931 as “That dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement.”
So what would MLK’s dream look like in our world today? Coming from the Tech industry, I can only imagine that for our industry it would include closing the equity gap that women and under-represented groups still suffer. He would question why Black and Hispanic students are earning computer science degrees at twice the rate that they are hired by leading tech companies, and why the workforce at “Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter — according to those companies’ own reports — were just 3 percent Hispanic and 1 percent black.”
MLK’s dream is not only relevant today, but perhaps it’s more relevant than ever before. In the recent two decades, the Tech industry has been the biggest producer of high paying jobs. Unfortunately, these high paying jobs have also resulted in the largest equity gap in generations, with women, African Americans and Hispanics, and other under-represented groups not benefiting proportionately.
Consider the median pay at Facebook, roughly $240,000 as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle through their analysis of the first year of public company pay disclosures. Meanwhile, the median pay was a little over $66,000 at Wells Fargo, and about $140,000, even at premier companies like Chevron and PG&E.
It’s clear that a career in Tech provides a significant opportunity for prosperity and success. When the opportunity to get those jobs is limited or unavailable to certain groups, there is indeed a threat to MLK’s Dream. By going mostly to elite US universities and ignoring community colleges, lesser-known universities, and specific sources of diverse candidates (for example, HBCUs), the Tech industry is doing just that!
On this start of another decade and in honor of MLK, let us once again recommit ourselves to the ideals, and perhaps more importantly to the actions that we can all take to make the MLK dream come true in this land of opportunity. Let us make the sacrifices that may be needed on a smaller scale of our immediate individual interests, in order to build a society and an economy where life is “better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement.”