Making Iowa’s Entrepreneurial Communities More Diverse // The Gazette 2018-03-11T16:44:49+00:00

Project Description

Tech communities around the country are confronting inequality and a lack of diversity in their incubators, accelerators, co-working spaces, and start-ups. In Iowa, the tech community has launched several diversity initiatives. But Ini Augustine, president of the Iowa Black Business Coalition, said these haven’t effectively addressed the needs of African-Americans in the state.

She blamed this disconnect on a tendency among tech organizations, social researchers, and academics to hand down solutions rather than engaging directly with people in disadvantaged communities.

“It’s hard to formulate a solution to a problem when you don’t include the people you’re trying to help,” Augustine said.

As a member of the Fairfield CoLab board, I’ve seen firsthand how homogeneous a space can become when you don’t actively work toward recruiting a wide range of members. The CoLab’s membership represents a diverse age range, but the majority of members who use the space day-to-day tend to be white males. All of them are model co-workers and valuable participants in our community.

But in order to grow, we need to connect with more women and people of color as well. The CoLab is designed to be an inclusive, collaborative space, and we welcome anyone who wants to join. Now it’s a matter of finding out how that space can serve even more people within Fairfield and how to get a greater variety of people in the door.

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