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Diversity Equity Inclusion Tech Education

CEOS Discuss Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Tech Education — and Steps to Increase Equity and Access to Programs

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Watch the video below to hear Climb CEO Angela Ceresnie talk with Ludo Fourrage, founder and CEO of Nucamp, and Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia, founder and CEO of Product School, about what their programs have done to increase Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in their tech education programs!

Read the transcript:

Angela: “I’ll start with you Ludo, and then and then move over to Carlos, but how do you guys think at your school about Diversity Equity, and Inclusion, and are there any steps that you’re taking to increase equity and access to your programs that we haven’t discussed already?”

Ludo: “I mean I talked about how we kind of thought about it at the core, but then we also saw as the school evolved and grew and as we reached more people, that we had to have — I think you named it, Carlos — also additional tactics to help. And one tactic that’s really helpful is scholarships. I know it’s a method that’s been around for years, for good reasons, because you can really find an issue and apply your resources to help solve that issue very easily. And so let me give you an example: there were announcements, I think it was four or five months ago, that Best Buy and Fry were laying off employees in their stores. We created a scholarship just for those people … We have one that we’re working with a non-profit organization, to help Native Americans. We’re working with an organization to help provide laptops, and I would say that’s not something I mentioned before in terms of really providing access to coding bootcamps, but there’s a lot of people who don’t have access to powerful equipment. Especially when you think about building a program — you know, writing code — you need powerful computers and laptops, and just that could be a criteria for being able or not able to to enter this field. So yeah, scholarships for us has been really helpful, and and I will say also trying to hire from that diverse audience. More and more, I’m being conscious about actually hiring from within, so we’re bringing past students to help us with being an advisor, and they’re talking to the next student and it’s a part-time gig for them, but really it’s kind of symbiotic. If you want, they can share directly their experience. They understand the audience that we are talking to, and things like that.”

Angela: “Yeah, and they can be also a sort of — again, to this idea of people showing up and not knowing am I going to be successful, I don’t see people that look like me here, I feel old, I look different, whatever it is — and then if you can get a mentor or person who has actually been through the program and was where you were before and has been successful, that can be the difference for somebody in terms of their ability to either have the confidence or get some of the advice to get through something.”

Ludo: “That’s right, it goes so much beyond having just a script, right? When you can actually talk to someone who went through it, who had personal experiences. And we’re actually telling our advisors that they’re not salespeople; we actually do not want them to sell. I want them to be helpful. I think that’s a term that I was told years ago at Microsoft: your goal should be to be helpful, and that’s an under-appreciated term. If you can be helpful, you’re going to go a long way.”

Angela: “Absolutely. And those networks have been proven so powerful in so many different ways. That’s amazing that you’re doing that within your program. Carlos, what about you guys?”

Carlos: “Well first of all Ludo, I love your answer because you are clearly thinking long term and investing in your community, and some of what you said about providing a laptop can be life-changing regardless of what that person ends up doing for their education. Either it’s a coding bootcamp or something else — I like to think about that way as well. For us, we are a community of over one million members, and over 90% of our resources are absolutely free and available right now. You don’t have to be a paid user in order to learn product, and that includes our job board. Tons of companies and potential candidates are there, and if I can help, if I can make a match, hey that’s good for my soul, you know? And I also believe it’s good for the business because ultimately, that creates a good reputation. But I’m very clear that with Product School, there will always be a free version of it that is going to be, as much as we can, to help as many people. And then on the topic of scholarships, we created some scholarships, and I wanted to do it with a twist. I just didn’t want to give something just because it’s free, because I don’t really know the real intention of that person. So we partner with companies that wanted to co-create scholarships with us. And what that means, we did one with a company called Wiz — it’s a unicorn in Europe. They are really investing in their own diversity and inclusion. They wanted to hire more product people from different genders and other types of criteria. So they defined the criteria, we both co-invested in this scholarship, and we basically provided around $100,000. And then we ran this program; the recruiting team at Wiz specifically picked the candidates, so it wasn’t just a lottery, and then as part of the program, Wiz recruiters had first dibs on those candidates — those students in this case. So they were also trying to connect education with employment. From the 20 people that benefited from that scholarship, they ended up hiring two at least, potentially a third one. So there is huge ROI for them, and we also did the right thing because there are many other people who now know more about product and can leverage that experience for something else.”

Angela: “That’s a very creative way. There’s I think a lot of interest and discussion around how corporations play into creating equity within higher education, and in terms of upskilling and getting people career advancement. And that’s a really creative way of approaching that. A lot of times I think the corporations want to invest in people they’ve already hired, and so I think it’s interesting to think about it through the recruiting funnel — and especially if a corporation knows what their needs are, and wants to have a more I would say diverse funnel, they can build it themselves.”

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