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Can the Bay Area Tech Economy Embrace Equity Before It’s Too Late?

Featured photo credit: SEIU-USWW

By Chris Schildt, PolicyLink

This post originally appeared at New Economy Week 2015: From Austerity to Prosperity.

Uber recently purchased one of the largest office spaces in downtown Oakland, California, with plans to move3,000 of its workers there by 2017. For a city facing a housing crisis and rapid displacement of Black families and low-income communities, many fear this act will accelerate gentrification pressures. It has also led to some cautious optimism for an opportunity to make Oakland a leader in what Mayor Libby Schaaf has called techquity: “fostering our local technology sector’s growth so it leads to shared prosperity.”

Tech companies can play a role in advancing an equitable economy, but they will first have to confront a deeply inequitable status quo. The San Francisco Bay Area has one of the highest levels of inequality of any region in the country, and it is growing at an alarming pace. Unequal access to business and job opportunities have deepened racial economic gaps – Black and Latino workers earn a median wage that is $10 an hour less than White workers in the Bay Area, and these racial inequities exist across all education levels. The tech-driven “innovation economy” can reverse these trends. But to understand how, it’s important to examine how the innovation economy works. Continue reading Can the Bay Area Tech Economy Embrace Equity Before It’s Too Late?