A Change of Tack

Welcome back from the weekend, readers!

When Elly Post started their web app development company seven years ago, they were just trying to make enough money to self-support and pay for school. Now that Ellytronic Media is flourishing and sustainable, Post has a new direction with a commitment to help others. 

“I was thinking over the last couple years about what I can do to help use the success of my business to be a platform for others to be successful. Or, how can I at least be a good ally with my business?” Post said.

A few months ago, Ellytronic created a new mission statement that includes as priorities “building technical partnerships that contribute to the greater good and elevate our local communities” and a “commitment to furthering social and economic equality.”

The mission is too new to have been tested, but Post’s intent is that it reframes conversations about how their company operates and what work it accepts. “When we take on a new client, we can ask, does this fit into our mission? If so, how? If not, is this something we actually want to take on? Is it just for cash or is it because this is bringing value to the community and sustaining some sort of demographic that might need a boost?” Post said.

The concept reflects a growing movement to create opportunities for underrepresented populations in the tech field. Post is queer but recognizes their position of privilege as a white man and their ability to influence change. “In general, the entire tech industry could use a significant boost of pushing for diversity… That certainly includes LGBTQ+,” Post said. 

Post believes the diversity push in tech is happening a little, but “it's important… to recognize that technology in general has a really significant, disproportionate number of white men as opposed to any other demographic. That’s something that everybody in the industry should have some sort of interest in fixing to be at a more equal level.” The diversity boost should go beyond entry level opportunities and extend to bringing new voices to higher levels of leadership as well, Post added.

Ellytronic’s steps to advance diversity so far include careful and purposeful project selection, working with the Illinois LGBT Chamber of Commerce and other groups, and attending and sponsoring local events for LGBT pride, women, and people of color. Ellytronic already offered discounts to some disadvantaged and underrepresented clients, and it is taking further measures due to client hardships brought on by the pandemic -- nonprofit clients receive a rate reduction and partial payment deferment until July. Post also is working on a plan with their local chamber of commerce to do some pro-bono work to support other businesses in need. 

“LGBTQ+ people should be advocated for and advocate for themselves. Ellytronic cares a lot about that. But I would say that’s only a small portion of our diversity issues in technology,” Post said. “This is something that I feel very strongly about. As a white man in tech, I've got some privilege. One way I can be a good ally is just by helping to lift up others who are less fortunate.”

Ellytronic Media’s business has surged in the past couple weeks as clients have sought assistance with migrating operations online, so Post -- who is the sole full-time employee and hires several contractors -- brought on another contractor and increased existing contractors’ hours to meet demand. Post anticipates that the surge will be temporary and it’s unclear what the next two to three months hold, much less beyond that, but Ellytronic’s “focus remains on supporting local and underserved communities more now than ever.” 

Have you come across any inspiring mission statements at other tech companies? Let me know and I will share the highlights in a future newsletter. Email katie@centered.tech or connect on Twitter @centereddottech to share ideas of who to highlight.

Best,

Katie


Other stories we’re watching:

  • A Dayton-based startup that makes disposable paper thermometers that can be used on the forehead is having a sudden surge in business due to the pandemic. (Dayton Daily News)

  • Chicago Public Schools intends to distribute thousands of mobile hotspot devices to students who are experiencing homelessness so they can access the internet and participate in remote schooling. (CBS 2)

  • A Cleveland startup that intends to digitize vehicle titles using blockchain technology has raised $5 million from investors. (Government Technology)


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