As the tech industry takes a hard look at its culture of systemic bias and sexual harassment, leading companies make a commitment to changing it.
Bridge Foundry today announced the official launch of its Industry Partner Program, based on a successful track record of increasing diversity in tech communities through its innovative training programs. The Industry Partner Program will enable research into successful diversity and inclusion initiatives.
In order to be successful, tech companies need to create environments where their engineers can succeed. Too often those environments only work for some people. Bridge Foundry trains experienced software developers in the skills needed to create a respectful working environment for all of us.
Tech companies which host workshops and include staff participation are creating a significant shift in culture with lasting effects. Bridge Foundry’s 2018 sponsors with a track record of supporting this work include Autodesk, Balsamiq, Carbon Five, Lightbend, Linode, StitchFix, Stride, Thoughtbot, Travis, and Twilio.
What is unique about the Bridge workshops are the influence they have on the software developers who teach as well as the students who learn. Participant engineers learn how to build inclusive work environments that work for all people. Workshops offer training in specific technologies, with outreach to individuals who are underrepresented in tech.
Experienced software engineers and beginners alike use open source curriculum to build the same app. The difference is in the teachers who adapt to the level and needs of the class. Volunteers learn effective teaching strategies as well as how to model more inclusive behavior in peer interactions. Students learn that they can expect to be treated with respect, which is substantially different from common experiences in the software industry.
While Bridge Foundry’s programs focus primarily on technical skill development, participants report that they also learn leadership skills that contribute to workplace transformation by creating change agents within the tech industry.
“I’ve worked in the tech industry for years, and have seen how inhospitable it can be for anyone who doesn’t conform to the dominant tech culture. Many in our community are committed to changing that, and they are showing their commitment through supporting our programs, which not only teach people new coding skills, but also help tech employees transform their workplaces into environments where everyone can thrive.” — Sarah Allen, Bridge Foundry co-founder and CEO.
Bridge Foundry’s innovative approach to teaching coding is effective for experienced engineers as well as those new to software development. Local communities engage expert software developers as teachers and mentors, creating network effects. Repeat participants volunteering as teachers accumulate skills which support their own professional growth as software developers and leaders, as well as creating a sustainable model for the group.
“RailsBridge promotes diversity in technology, not only for women but for all races, sexual orientations, classes, and skill levels. I am greatly encouraged by the development of more organizations devoted to promoting diversity in technology; as a woman, I am proud to be a part of the movement.” — Debbie Madden, CEO of Stride.
In 2017, Balsamiq’s sponsorship enabled this grassroots organization to establish its presence as an independent non-profit 501c3 organization in the United States. Its international efforts are driven by a network of independent communities who share open source curricula.
“Balsamiq has looked to Bridge Foundry for guidance and inspiration on how to bring diversity to the tech industry in the properly inclusive, grassroots and sustainable way. We are proud to have helped Bridge Foundry take the organization to the next level.” — Peldi Guilizzoni, CEO.
Long time supporter Autodesk committed to sponsoring four Boston-area workshops in 2018. Like many Bridge Foundry sponsors, this work is reflective of their corporate culture:
“At Autodesk, we believe diversity fuels new ideas, creativity, and growth. As a company committed to building a diverse and inclusive environment, it’s our responsibility to create opportunities for as many people as possible to participate in the future of work. We are thrilled to sponsor Bridge Foundry’s mission to create environments for underserved communities to learn critical technical skills.” — Galia Traub, Senior Software Engineer and RailsBridge Boston organizer