Memphis Delivers a Diverse Tech Talent Pipeline
By: Apryl Childs-Potter
The economic business case for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) is stronger and more clear than ever. For the past two decades, the most lucrative tech jobs have been concentrated in America's fastest growing cities, which are predominately located in our nation's east and west coasts. As cited in a February 2021 report from McKinsey and Company, nearly 60% of America’s black workforce is concentrated in the South. This geographic disparity has made it challenging for minorities, particularly black workers, to access these lucrative tech career paths because 1black workers are not heavily located in the places where current job opportunities are highly concentrated and where job growth will likely rise the fastest through 2030.
Today, almost half of Black workers in the United States are in three industries with a large frontline-service presence: healthcare, retail and accommodation, and food service. Conversely, Black workers are under represented in industries sectors which typically offer have relatively higher wages and job growth, such as information technology, professional services, and financial services,.
Given these realities, the economic opportunity of untapped potential in race and gender disparities are significant for regional, state, and national economies. A working paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Fransisco published in April 2021 notes: 2race and gender gaps cost $2.6 trillion of foregone gross domestic product (GDP) nationally in 2019. For Tennessee, if racial and gender gaps were closed, the state’s GDP would have increased by $37 billion annually from 2005 to 2019.
An untapped concentration of Black and Female tech talent exists in Greater Memphis. A few highlights from the report include:
- Technology-related jobs are one of the faster growing occupational groups in the Greater Memphis region, expanding 7% from 2015 to 2020.
- Strengthening our market’s inclusion outlook for higher wage opportunities, 3Memphis ranks #1 out of the 53 largest metropolitan areas in the presence of Black and Female talent in computer occupations.
- This growth is driven by our region’s #1 rank in job growth for software developer occupations, expanding 75% from 2015 to 2020.
Apryl Childs-Potter leads the Greater Memphis Chamber's Center for Economic Competitiveness, an initiative in partnership with the University of Memphis designed to leverage data to drive more inclusive economic growth.
1McKinsey & Company | Race in the workplace: The Black experience in the US private sector, February 21, 2021
2Buckman, Shelby R., Laura Y. Choi, Mary C. Daly, Lily M. Seitelman. 2021 “The Economic Gains from Equity,” Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Working Paper 2021-11. https://doi.org/10.24148/wp2021-11
3 Emsi Burning Glass, Q3 2021. Comparative rank of demographic share of computer occupations (SOC 15-200) as a percent of total within the 53 largest metropolitan areas with populations greater than or equal to 1 million.