Jesse Jackson to Bring Attention to Lack of Diversity in Technology Field

Jackson will lead a delegation at a Hewlett-Packard meeting to address the issue.

Posted: 03/19/2014 12:05 PM EDT

The technology field continues to grow at a rapid pace, but African-Americans and Latinos are being left out of the mix. Rev. Jesse Jackson is calling attention to the lack of diversity Wednesday by leading a delegation at a Hewlett-Packard's annual shareholders meeting.

Jackson is expected to address the poor representation of Blacks and Latinos in hiring, board appointments and startup funding, according to the Associated Press. He is not targeting HP specifically, but is instead using the meeting to address a wider industry issue.

"Technology is supposed to be about inclusion, but sadly, patterns of exclusion remains the order of the day," Jackson wrote in a letter released Monday to Apple Inc., Twitter Inc., Facebook Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Google Inc. and others.

Associated Press reports

It's widely recognized that the tech industry lacks diversity: About 1 in 14 tech workers is black or Latino, both in the Silicon Valley and nationally. Blacks and Hispanics make up 13.1 and 16.9 percent of the U.S. population, respectively, according to the most recent census data.

Yet as recently as 2011, The Allstate Corp., in alliance with Jackson's RainbowPUSH organization, recognized HP for its commitment to diversity.

"While we certainly agree that diversity is an important issue in corporate America, we're puzzled by Rev. Jackson's sudden interest in HP," HP Executive Vice President Henry Gomez said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. "Today, HP is the largest company in the world with both a female CEO and CFO, and nearly half of our leadership team and board of directors are women and minorities. Additionally, nearly 50 years ago, HP established the first minority business program in the United States."

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(Photo: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Africa-America Institute)

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