During Politic365’s 6th Annual Blueprint Policy Forum, a cross section of leaders from across the public and private sectors united to explore strategies for Ensuring Equity in the Innovation Economy. At a time of growing social unrest, heightened partisan tensions, and increasing racial, income, and wealth disparities, leaders in attendance sought to identify solutions for increasing the participation of women and people of color in the digital economy.
As noted in the report released at the event, “there is an inextricable link between economic inclusion, growth and sustainability for American cities and towns, and continued national productivity and global competitiveness.” Further, “achieving equity in the Innovation Age requires ubiquitous access to and adoption of high-speed Internet, which can enable communities to better connect with high-quality jobs, education, and healthcare options.” Likewise, “full participation in the digital economy necessitates access to rich, robust network, but it is not enough to merely close the digital divide…[it] requires ensuring the benefits of the Internet of Things and the rise of smart cities flow to all people.”
Spending the morning with @KristalHigh @SpencerOverton @SkillSmartUS @coalitionbuildr at @Politic365‘s Blueprint for Universal Economic Inclusion: Ensuring Equity In the Innovation Economy. pic.twitter.com/90eEWrPuWp
— Tobeka G. Green (@TobekaGreen) November 14, 2017
Congressman Tony Cardenas (D-CA) kicked off the event with a powerful message: until women and people of color have economic equity, there will never be real equality in this country. He stressed the importance of making sure that traditionally marginalized groups not only have access to the cutting-edge technologies of our day, but that members of those communities learn to be digitally engaged as well.
Imagine a city where every citizen has equal access to affordable broadband connection. Imagine every child being able to complete their homework at home. Imagine low-wage workers being able to apply to better positions to provide a secure future for their families @Politic365
— HTTP (@httponline) November 14, 2017
That sentiment was echoed by Congresswoman Val Demings (D-FL), who encouraged participants to consider the kind of future they want to see for themselves and this country and adjust accordingly. She was also a proponent of focusing attention on Blue STEM Jobs and their potential to provide new economic opportunities for women and members of various minority groups.
— Prof Spencer Overton (@SpencerOverton) November 14, 2017
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) acknowledged the efforts of Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., who was also in attendance, in pushing the envelop to increase transparency and accountability when it comes to diverse representation in the workforce, and among corporate and board leadership of tech companies. She also noted that very little progress has been made on the inclusion front, and urged new models of persuasion and engagement to ensure that people of color are fairly represented throughout the digital economy.
— AfricanAmericanMayor (@OurMayors) November 14, 2017
The event included representatives from leading civic, social justice, business, research and advocacy organizations across the country, including The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, The Brookings Institution, LGBT Tech, Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership, National Urban League, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Rainbow PUSH Coalition, US Black Chambers Inc, OCA, Asian American Justice Center, Multicultural Media Telecom and Internet Council, and the Progressive Policy Institute.
While each participant brought a different perspective to the event, a few themes remained consistent across the board, namely:
- greater strides must be made to ensure that people of color are online, have access to, and use the highest speed and quality networks available;
- opportunity in the innovation economy also requires new mechanisms for ensuring access to capital and technical understanding of how to capitalize on new e-commerce and advanced manufacturing trends;
- and bipartisan solutions, offering smart, streamlined policies, supported by fair practices, will support efforts to increase inclusivity in the new economy.