CollabNet, #YesWeCode, and Making a Difference in Tech

InformationWeek recently ran an article I wrote that describes CollabNet’s work with non-profit #YesWeCode. This Dream Corps initiative aims to help young adults find careers and success in the tech industry.

In the article, I address the growing need for new talent in the tech industry:

“The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that there will be one million more IT jobs than computer science students in the U.S. by 2020. The software development field in particular is expected to see a much higher than average growth rate of 17 percent.”

As a software executive, I see how taking responsibility to solve this challenge rests partially on the shoulders of the organizations that are hiring technology professionals.

In other words, we need to look for ways to train and inspire the right individuals to fill our job openings. However, the best talent doesn’t always come from the most obvious places, and as an industry, we really need to work on diversifying our workplaces.

I pointed out this statistic in the InformationWeek article:

“Although the lack of diversity is clear in high tech across the country, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has recognized that Silicon Valley (San Francisco Bay Area) is particularly plagued with low employment rates for people of color in tech jobs.”

After learning about #YesWeCode, I knew there was a way for CollabNet to get involved and make a difference. I shared more about this experience and how CollabNet took action to help these young adults:

“I was thrilled to learn that #YesWeCode not only taps into unreached talent but is dedicated to making an impact that will extend beyond simply filling open jobs. My CEO, Flint Brenton, was also passionate about this initiative, as he is involved in driving many nonprofit community activities and programs, and he enthusiastically agreed to partner with #YesWeCode and asked me to lead the charge.

To kick things off, we led a Scrum training course for a group of #YesWeCode students, or “Coding Corps” members, who had applied successfully to participate. Since then, 75 percent of the Coding Corps Scrum training graduates have been placed in industry jobs or apprenticeships in the San Francisco Bay Area. Now certified ScrumMasters, they left the training with management-level skills to facilitate the organization of a product development team.”

Our decision to partner with #YesWeCode resonated with our tech community.  When we shared the news of this partnership in May 2016, the announcement was CollabNet’s number-one-most-viewed news release all year. Plus its accompanying tweet received more likes and shares than any other in 2016.

The task of increasing diversity in tech careers can seem overwhelming, but these numbers tell us that many folks, like us, are passionate about doing just that.

It’s also encouraging to see that our community takes interest in addressing important cultural issues like this and goes beyond just focusing on the next shiny new object.

Our peers are also asking questions like, “Are we being inclusive?” and “How can we make our workforce more diverse?”

To sum it up, I explained the impact #YesWeCode had on these students and on our organization internally:

“CollabNet’s Coding Corps participants get a unique opportunity to develop skills that will advance their careers. As a company, we have the privilege of nurturing and hiring new talent. Further, we are contributing to our industry by teaching hirable skills that will open new doors for a young and diverse tech community of the future.

This program has also inspired CollabNet to refine existing in-house training processes and develop new practices that will enhance the knowledge and skill sets of our employees.”

To read the full story, “CollabNet, #YesWeCode, and Making a Difference in Tech,” visit InformationWeek.

Eric Robertson

Robertson is responsible for the DevOps product line at CollabNet. Prior to CollabNet, Eric served as Director of services and portfolio management for enterprise solutions at Unisys. Eric joined Cisco through a company acquisition, where he led product management for Cisco's cloud automation and SAP ALM extension offerings. Eric has successfully held product development, services and management roles with enterprises and start-ups and has provided consulting services to Fortune 500 companies. Eric holds a patent in the area of virtualization and a Master's Degree in Electrical and Software Engineering from University of Texas in Austin and continues to further his research in domain- specific languages, and intelligent automation.

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