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GET Cities is calling on leaders to help increase gender equity in tech

GET Cities is calling on leaders to help increase gender equity in tech

By Nancy Dahlberg

Today, just 23 percent of tech professionals in the Miami area are women, and it is going to take the help of forward-thinking business leaders to move the needle toward gender equity in the tech workforce.

That’s the idea behind GET Cities Miami’s newest initiative. GET Cities, a national organization that helps tech ecosystems educate, select and promote female talent, will partner with Radical Partners, a Miami-based social impact accelerator, to launch GET Champions. The cohort will equip 20 tech leaders with knowledge, coaching and strategies focused on increasing the number of women, trans, and nonbinary professionals hired and promoted in technical roles.

In this new program, GET Champions participants will be tech industry leaders with the desire and the authority to hire, retain, promote and sponsor women, trans and nonbinary professionals at their companies, says  Toia Santamarina, GET Cities Miami Director who took the helm last year.

“We aim to catalyze equity in tech through the supply and demand channels by transforming the leadership and tech culture and by simultaneously working with a pool of diverse talent. We believe that change really happens when hearts on mind are transformed. To really move the needle on equity representation, leaders will advocate for marginalized tech talent while also preparing the talent while this transformation change happens,” says Santamarina, who brings a background of social impact work to her role.

The 20 selected Champions will participate in a six-week program with a structured curriculum including virtual and in-person training, speakers, executive coaching, DEI initiative analysis, networking, mentorship and hiring events. The aim aim to to help them become more effective leaders with allyship and the goal of growing a retaining diverse high-performance teams.

“We’re not only going to train you on how to acquire talent but most importantly how to create an environment and culture to retain and elevate that talent, knowing it will boost productivity and strengthen the future of your tech company,” says Joan Marie Godoy, Executive Director of Radical Partners, which has been running leadership programs in Miami for a decade.

Applications are open today through Feb. 20. Tech leaders interested in applying to GET Champions can visit https://www.getcities.org/get-champions. The program will begin in late March.

As Miami’s tech community is growing at an explosive pace, GET (Gender Equity in Tech) Cities launched a hub here early last year.  The organization, which also operates in Chicago and Washington DC, is backed by Melinda French Gates’ Pivotal Ventures and supported by a number of partners nationally and locally.

Upon launching a year ago, Santamarina and her GET Cities team spent several months learning about the tech ecosystem here in Miami. “What makes this program unique is that we want to make sure we respect and celebrate Miami’s culture, and … that we make sure we build [gender equity in tech] together, within the community,” Santamarina said in an earlier interview.

In their subsequent discussions with ecosystem leaders and members of the tech community, three key findings emerged, she said this week.

First, there’s a limited definition of “diversity” here, says Santamarina, who was born and raised in Argentina and moved to Miami in 2018 in part to get closer to her Latin culture. “When people say that their teams are diverse, they have this sophisticated understanding of ethnicity, country of origin, race, immigration, but gender it’s not commonly considered.”

The team also learned that that there’s a myth that there is no local talent. “Miami was an exciting destination for a lot of people during Covid but when many tech leaders relocated here, they still decided to also keep their recruiting strategy in a more traditional way, and they kept looking for talent outside of Miami.” The third learning is that traditional gender roles still persist here in Miami, including traditional expectations for women in many places, Santamarina says.

GET Champions will be addressing these key findings ‘by expanding the definition of DEI in Miami, making sure that we have a better understanding of gender and that we are analyzing the connections of marginalized tech talent and the opportunities that we see within the inclusive workforce.” Equity issues were also uncovered in research by Miami organization Aire Ventures last year.

Much more is in the works, Santamarina said, including initiatives to address gender equity in funding, another large issue in Miami and nationally. One in the planning stages is an entrepreneur exchange, connecting female entrepreneurs and VCs in Miami and Chicago and perhaps other ecosystems to expand their network, Santamarina said. All Raise, an organization focused on gender equity in funding, is also a partner of GET Cities, and is bringing a chapter in Miami, so expect more collaborations on the funding equity front, too, Santamarina said. To help get the word out about GET Cities and meet more people in the community, GET Cities Miami is hosting the Miami Tech Happy Hour on Feb. 15.

GET Cities Miami launch event in early 2022. Photo at the top of this post is GET Cities Miami Director Toia Santamarina.

Follow  Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg and email her at ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com

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