By Victoria Willingham • October 31, 2020•Writers in Residence
With Election Day in just a few days, I am reminded of how policy shapes our society and the way we live. In a one-of-a-kind year that has sparked unprecedented social movements and calls for reform, the way individuals view and conceptualize policy has greatly shifted. As a result, who shapes policies has become more important than ever.
I recently attended a panel discussion that covered the current status of tech policy from a diversity and inclusion perspective in both the private sector and the public sector. There were so many interesting points throughout the discussion, but one overarching theme lingered in my thoughts long after the conversation had ended. One panelist indicated that essentially every company is becoming a tech company. I began to ponder that statement. Since technology is relevant in essentially all facets of our lives, identifying issues and advocating is merely a starting point when change is necessary. In order to really witness progress in these spaces, the people who are directly impacted must be a part of shaping the policies that need reform.
Whether in government, industry, or a particular company, decision makers must consider more than just the existence of programs and initiatives that address disparities in their internal policies or in the product or service they offer. When evaluating areas for change, the first step should be to ensure that as many voices as possible have the opportunity to offer insight and perspective. As it pertains to tech policy on a broad level, I think the topic will continue to evolve and we will have to address its various layers through voting in some instances and by intentionally creating avenues for traditionally marginalized individuals to have the opportunity to gain access to roles of influence.
While I continue to ponder this concept, I encourage individuals interested in the legal aspects of the tech space to think about ways we can create pipelines that diversify leadership and increase representation in policy. Additionally, as technology continues to evolve, I think it important to also anticipate the areas where improvements can be made to ensure diverse voices are heard and issues are tackled in the most productive and efficient manner possible.