It’s a well-accepted fact that tech lacks diversity. White men still dominate the playing field both at lower levels and in management, and retention and equal opportunity for career progression for diverse hires remains a problem across the industry. 

Equally as important are barriers to entry. It can be difficult for minorities to get a foot in the door in a world where our frequently-segregated social networks play such a large role in building our hiring pipelines and social bias is heavily skewed towards the status quo of existing employees.

The LaunchDarkly Foundation was created to ensure that, as a company, we remain conscious of our impact and directly engage with the world and communities that we operate in. We want our relationship with the community we work in to be symbiotic, not unidirectional. Since our HQ is in Oakland—a city known not just for its diversity but also its inequality—we have identified education for the underserved as one key area we can most effectively give back.

Luckily, there are more than a few organizations, both in the United States and the United Kingdom, that are working to remedy everyone’s pipeline problems both through increasing the supply of diverse candidates and helping to build connections between those candidates and job networks. Here are some that we wanted to spotlight.

United States:

  • CodeNation - We at LaunchDarkly love CodeNation, so much so that they form part of the ethos of our company and community engagement. This incredible organization works with under-resourced high schools to give young students exposure to the tech industry and the skills to kick off their journey into a tech career. CodeNation has connected us to dozens of eager-to-learn young people and given us a chance to make a meaningful impact through sponsorship, classes, mentoring, and internships.
  • Girls Who Code - Did you know women used to be a majority in computing? Girls Who Code is on a mission to close the gap that has opened up in the last few decades by engaging young women and other gender minorities to foster an interest and accessibility to programming as a career possibility. In addition to offering learning resources, they also pursue public policy advocacy and research as a supplementary means to closing the gender gap.
  • Ada Developers Academy - Ada’s is a tuition-free, year-long education program for women and gender minorities broken into six months of courses and a five-month paid internship placement at a company in Seattle.
  • The Last Mile - An incredible organization that works with currently incarcerated people to help reskill them into valuable tech employees for a rewarding career post-release. Their program operates in several facilities targeting men, women, and youth. 
  • Next Chapter - Works with formerly incarcerated people to provide a guaranteed pathway to an engineering career through a rigorous eight-month program that includes one-on-one mentorship and classes. While its cohorts are small, the opportunities the program provides are life-changing.
  • Vets In Tech - Supports veterans and their spouses to pursue a tech career as part of the reintegration process. They offer courses on everything from cybersecurity to web development to sales.
  • Operation Code - Offers mentorship and scholarships to support military veterans and their spouses through the process of reskilling into software engineering. They also provide networking events and career services like interview prep.
  • Code2040 - This nonprofit unfortunately only operates in the Bay Area, where it is a valuable fixture for Black and Latinx individuals looking to kickstart a tech career through re- or upskilling. In addition to their educational programs, they advocate for racial equity through community events and by serving as a platform for dialogue and exchange between tech and the local black and brown community. 

All of the organizations listed here provide free education programs for people looking to get into tech or programming. However, there are paid programs that also provide valuable education for underrepresented individuals, such as Girls Make Games and Hackbright Academy.

United Kingdom:

  • Codebar - A largely volunteer-driven charity, Codebar’s organizational objective is “to enable minority group members to learn programming in a safe and collaborative environment and expand their career opportunities.” In an effort to do so, they provide free regular workshops and events to support people from all walks of life learning to code on their own. The organization is UK-based but operates in nearly 30 cities across four continents.
  • Code First Girls - Offers everything from massive open online courses (MOOCs), to courses tailored towards university students, to a set of full, 12-week intensive “nanodegrees”—and all for free! It has given over 30,000 women free programming courses since it was founded in 2012.
  • Coders of Colour - Provides free coding workshops to young people of color and events to help engage and foster interest among underrepresented youth.
  • Coding Black Females - A nonprofit organization founded in 2017, Coding Black Females provides a valuable network to Black female developers and Black women looking to enter engineering to further and build their careers. In addition to this, they help to organize and support mentorship programs and skills workshops and maintain a fantastic jobs board for companies looking to diversify their pipeline.
  • Code Your Future - This nonprofit represents an incredible opportunity for refugees and other disadvantaged individuals across the UK. It not only offers several options for a free full-stack web development bootcamp, but a laptop and free childcare to really facilitate participants’ career transitions.
  • Ada’s List - This London-based platform believes in strength in numbers. It does not offer upskilling programs but rather aims to connect women in the tech industry both to available opportunities and each other.

If your company is looking to contribute or, better yet, to diversify, many of the organizations listed here have job boards you can contribute to or accept sponsorships and donations.

And if you’re looking to start a career at LaunchDarkly, check out our job openings