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Meet Ariel Lopez, the tech industry's agent of change

The CEO helps digital media companies diversify their recruitment process, retain minority talent, and provide skills-based training to the industry's next leaders.

The tech world is prime real estate for creatives and innovators looking to advance the lifestyles of consumers worldwide. Silicon Valley has become the mecca of forward-thinkers, and it's made for an exciting time full of new products and services that make life a more tailor-made experience for all of us. However, while the tech industry is bustling with opportunity, it still has improvements to make in the way of inclusion and diversity. Specifically regarding women and people of color. So, what happens when you're both a woman and a person of color? The odds are stacked against you even more to successfully break into the tech industry. Don't just take my word for it, it's obvious by the numbers.

Women hold just 25% of computing jobs in an industry where only 7% of partners at the top 100 venture capital firms are women. In Silicon Valley, women hold on to a mere 7% of executive positions. Meanwhile, women under the age of 25 make 29% less than male counterparts. They also receive lower salary offers than men for doing the same job, a whopping 63% of the time. Perhaps that's why the rate at which women quit jobs in the tech industry is at 41% vs. just 17% for men. Last but not least, venture capitalists invested just $1.46 billion in women-led companies. Male-led companies earned $58.2 billion in investments. See the problem? Good, because we're not done yet.

Women of color face an even steeper climb. According to Fortune, there has been a 13-percent decline in African-American women professionals working in tech since 2007, making them the only group among men and women to experience a loss in representation within the tech workforce. According to WomenWhoTech, 40% of females say that companies don't spend enough time ensuring diversity has been addressed, versus 82% of men who say that companies have spent enough time addressing diversity.

REVOLT spoke to two women who are shining examples of being the change we should all want to see in the tech industry. From Shavone Charles leading diversity initiatives at the likes of Twitter and Google, to taking charge of staffing for companies like Spotify and LinkedIn, there are bright women of color at the forefront of normalizing women and specifically black culture in the tech space. One of them is Ariel Lopez.

Ariel Lopez is the CEO of 2020Shift which aims to help tech and digital media companies diversify their recruitment process, retain minority talent and provide leadership and skills-based training to the industry's next leaders. As a career coach, entrepreneur, and public speaker, Lopez has worked with top brands and startups to help them build pipelines of talent. She's been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, Ebony and more. She spoke with REVOLT about the inner workings of educating tech companies on creating opportunity, and pointing aspiring professionals in the right direction for success.


Why is it so important for companies to invest in diversifying their staff? If it wasn't for our support of these companies products and services, then they wouldn't be multi-million dollar companies. In order to make better products and services, you need to make sure your consumers are reflected and that their voices are heard. It's so much bigger than social impact. I make sure companies understand that diversity is the right thing to do because it impacts their bottom line.

When it comes to working in the tech field. Do you think that people underestimate the variety of career options available? As long as people know what they need to know, they can be successful. We make sure to fight the misconceptions of what it means to work in tech. Most people think you have to know how to code or be a developer. There are roles in creative direction, production, communications, digital marketing, and data analytics. One side builds the product, but there are other sides that actually make the company what it is.

What's your perspective on the future of tech and the involvement of people of color? There's a new wave of movers, shakers, and entrepreneurs. The beauty of working in tech is that it's the only industry that intersects with every other industry. You can have a food, health, finance, whatever you want. I'm excited to see the type of businesses that will be built. The most important thing is making sure we have the resources we need and access.

As Ariel focuses on the hiring piece of the tech industry, she still faces the reality of being a woman in a male dominated industry. Her work is particularly important because she is helping to reshape the tech ecosystem, which most definitely includes empowering women.

"You have so many women who have come forward saying they can't get funded because their potential investor is too busy trying to date them," Lopez said. "I've been in those shoes before, it's very much a boys club. You can't take no for an answer, you have to show up every day and be relentless. It'll take women reclaiming their power to see that change we're looking for. When you look at things like the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, that's a sign of the times. Women are taking charge and empowering ourselves."

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