Recap: Austin’s Inaugural Inclusive Innovation Summit

BLNDED Media had the opportunity to attend the Inclusive Innovation Summit presented by Capital Factory and The Center of Inclusive Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Texas for a day filled with insightful panels, interactive workshops, and intentional networking.

The event kicked off with a keynote speech by Lisa Pearson, CMO of Big Commerce. She spoke about the issues most companies deal with when it comes to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace.

“The struggle isn’t getting people bought into why inclusive work environments are valuable, but how to get started and expand on what you’re already doing,” said Pearson.

She also shared that business leaders can start implementing change in their companies with several tactics such as changing the way you write job descriptions to accurately portray company culture, asking employees what an inclusive work environment looks like, making sure your interview panel is diverse, and acknowledging your own unconscious biases.

Ruben Cantu, Director of Inclusive Innovation and Entrepreneurship at University of Texas at Austin

Driving Diversity

The next discussion was focused on how Austin’s top entrepreneurs and tech professionals are driving diversity within their companies. The panel featured Angelica Erazo of Oracle, Janice Omadeke of The Mentor Method, Woan-Yoke Lau of KEY Concierge, David Fossas of WP Engine and was moderated by Virginia Cumberbatch of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at UT Austin.

Everyone candidly shared how they’re pushing the needle forward to drive tech and diversity to the forefront and the importance of being intentional when doing so. Erazo then emphasized how Oracle is serving the community and helping entrepreneurs scale their businesses.

“At Oracle, we’re providing support at every level. From partnering with local and national organizations to increase STEM outreach to supporting startups through our accelerator program. It’s important to not only take a stance, but move with intention and acknowledge where we’ve come and where we have to go.”

Ada-Renee Johnson, Head of Sourced Staffing Channels, Tech at Google

Unconscious Bias

Ada-Renee Johnson and Shelley Clifford Geoffrey of Google led an insightful workshop on the importance of confronting unconscious biases and how they have navigated difficult situations to confront biases as black women in leadership roles at Google.

“No one gives you your voice, you give people your voice. Get comfortable with courageous conversations. Diversity and inclusion is not a destination it’s a journey. Invite others to join you because you can’t do it alone,” said  Johnson.

Accelerate Your Promotion Velocity

Tanya Tarr of Advantage Spring spoke about the power of negotiation and shared how to seal the deal with every personality by knowing the best ways to communicate effectively by understanding your personality type. It’s no secret that women face pay inequality challenges and historically have been raised to not negotiate and that’s what she’s on a mission to change.

Promoting the Pipeline: Youth Entrepreneurship

The last panel focused on empowering young people to think differently, especially people of color, about tech, media and being entrepreneurs. The panel featured Laura Donnelly of Latinitas, Carl Settles of E4 Youth, Amber Wakem of Austin Startup Kids Club, Kristen Gossett of Junior Achievement of Central Texas and was moderated by Wendy Howell of Girls in Tech.

“We’re not giving these students a technical manual on how to be an entrepreneur, we’re showing them a style of thinking and presenting a mindset that they can use down the road,” said Gossett.

Thank you to the amazing speakers, partners, and sponsors who created this space to have the necessary and thought-provoking conversations on how we can work together to create a more inclusive ecosystem in Austin.

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