The Rev. Jesse Jackson kicked off his 18th annual Rainbow PUSH Wall Street Project Tuesday at the Sheraton Hotel in New York. This year’s summit, “Where Wall Street, Main Street & Silicon Valley Converge,” featured sessions on technology, entrepreneurship, best companies for diversity, the role of corporate boards and investing in communities.
Concluded Thursday, the summit brought together political, corporate and religious leaders to discuss the economic parity and concerns unique to men and women of African-American, Hispanic and diverse cultures.
Speakers and special guests at this year’s conference included Rep. Charles Rangel, Rep. Yvette Clarke, President and CEO of Black Enterprise, Earl Graves Jr., New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, the Rev. Calvin O. Butts of the Abyssinian Baptist Church and Cloves C. Campbell Jr., publisher of the Arizona Informant, and chair of the National Newspaper Publishers Association.
“While many strides have been made in America,” says Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and organizer of the Wall Street Project, “the leadership and workforce of too many corporations still don’t look like America or reflect the population and consumers they rely on for success.”
Highlights of the three-day summit included the Wall Street Project Career Symposium aimed at strengthening professionals with the tools, insights, skills and resources to enhance and manage career opportunities, and discussions on ethnic media, parity in public procurement, construction projects, management of public pension funds and the business of hip-hop.
Tuesday night, David Dinkins, former mayor of New York; Prince Author Eze, group chairman of Oranto Petroleum; 1199 SEIU; and Cathy Hughes, founder of Radio One were honored at the Citizenship Education Fund Opening Reception. The event was hosted by actor/comedian Mark Curry. A gala fundraiser for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund was held Wednesday night.
Other honorees at various programs included Butts, Silicon Harlem founders Bruce Lincoln and Clayton Banks and Dr. Lonnie G. Johnson, president and CEO of Excellatron.
The summit comes after Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition applauded Intel’s landmark diversity announcement to transform their workforce to achieve parity, or full representation of Blacks, Latinos and women, relative to the U.S. population, by 2020.
Intel is putting a budget behind its vision, committing $300 million over the next five years. Jackson had a one-on-one conversation with Intel CEO Brian M. Krzanich about the commitment.
“We want to hire more minorities who will be the hiring power to create more diversity within Intel,” Krzanich said. “We want to hire the best and brightest women and minorities to provide opportunities at Intel. We want to create more scholarship programs and make the transition to Silicon Valley much better.”
The Diversity in Technology Initiative will make investments that help build a pipeline of under-represented engineers and computer scientists, to foster hiring and inclusion for women and under-represented minorities at Intel, and to fund programs and businesses that support a more positive representation of women and under-represented minorities in technology and gaming, including increased investments in supplier diversity and venture capital for minority technology entrepreneurs.
The initiative is also collaborating with HBCUs to seek out workers for the technology industry.
“Intel has always been a leader in data transparency,” said Jackson. “For over a decade, they’ve regularly released their EEO-1 and workforce diversity data, long before other tech companies did so last year. Now, Intel’s ‘2020 Parity’ commitment takes the issue to a qualitatively higher level.”
In December, Jackson met with Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft and Tim Cook, CEO of Apple. He is challenging those companies and others to follow Intel’s lead on the “parity 2020” pledge and publicly unveil their own concrete, measurable diversity/inclusion goals, targets and timetables.
Wednesday, several key figures in the music industry gathered for the Business of Hip-Hop session. Panelist included hip-hop artists Rakim Allah, Rah Digga and Ed Lover. The session focused on strengthening entrepreneurship in the hip-hop community.