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Blockchain welcomes everyone, but the entire technology industry lacks diversity

July 6, 2020

Financial inclusion is often cited as the reason for striving for cryptocurrency and blockchain innovation. As guards monopolize the global financial scene, several unlawful populations have been cut off from viable channels for economic prosperity.

Crypto and blockchain products open up international payment brokers and ensure the democratization of the global economy. Other platforms are Create solutions intends to Solving development problems in historically disadvantaged regionslike Africa. As an inherently open ecosystem, crypto and blockchain innovations continue to spread across different parts of the world, and organizations in this sector typically have a global workforce with team members of different nationalities.

In the midst of the dynamics of the economic and technological update itself comes the Need for racial diversity and inclusionespecially in the context of the current political climate. With all the racial prejudice and discrimination that dominate social discourse around the world, it may be time to do some introspection how the crypto industry falls into the broader technology and financial services sectors.

Racial bias and discrimination in Silicon Valley

Blockchain welcomes everyone, but the entire technology industry lacks diversity
Blockchain welcomes everyone, but the entire technology industry lacks diversity

Amidst the overwhelming chaos that came with George Floyd’s death, organizations around the world have campaigned for racial equality and the eradication of racial discrimination. Crypto and technology companies jointly released solidarity messages with the African American community. In a conversation with Cointelegraph, Jay Hao, the CEO of OKEx, the crypto exchange platform, participated in the conversation about racial inequality:

“In many parts of the world there is deep inequality and injustice when it comes to a person’s skin color. This is something that is deeply rooted in society, however I am very confident that a change is emerging and that we can live in a fairer world in which skin color does not matter“”

In the past, Racism scandals have shaken America’s technology giants like Facebook, Google and Amazon, among other. In addition to discriminatory practices, these incidents were also affected Retaliation against workers who speak out against workplace prejudice. In 2014, Silicon Valley companies have started to publish demographic data of their workforce. In the six years since then, the data from these companies has been released show little in terms of improving diversity and inclusion.

Technology should be neutralHowever, today’s reality shows a different scenario. Although controlled by codes and algorithmic logic, The way technological inventions work points to prejudices. For example, it has been reported that some automatic hand wash soap dispensers are configured to not recognize darker skin tones. Speech recognition technology can malfunction with certain voice bends that are common to certain ethnic groups.

Jacky Alcine, a software developer, discovered this in 2015 Google’s image recognition algorithm classifies images of colored people as gorillas. In the midst of the excitement that followed the unveiling, Google simply blocked the image recognition feature for gorilla photos without doing much to solve the underlying problem.

Whether these algorithmic biases are intentionally the result of instrument developer biases or simple mistakes is controversial, but eliminating them is one of the main obstacles in machine learning.

Is the area of ​​cryptocurrency and blockchain more or less diverse than that of the technology industry?

Accepted Both the technology and finance industries are involved in the crypto space. Perhaps it is a fact that the latter will have a culture similar to the established realities of the former. In a message to Cointelegraph, Stephen Richardson, vice president of product strategy at Fireblocks, a crypto transfer network platform, said:

“I would say that Currently, diversity and inclusion in cryptos have a 6 on a scale of 10. Although I believe that the crypto community is relatively open, there are no significant underrepresented women and minorities in crypto leadership positions (see list of top exchanges, technology providers, and financial institutions). This is very similar to the general financial technology and service industries. “

According to Richardson The migration of talent from the technology and financial services sector to the cryptos mainly includes the traditionally represented demographic groupand all major improvements in diversity and inclusion for the crypto space must be driven by similar changes in broader financial and technological facilities. In an interview with Cointelegraph, Herbert Sim, an investor in serial technology and founder of Crypto Chain University, offered a more optimistic assessment of crypto diversity:

“Unlike other technology and financial markets, that of The cryptocurrency shows an immense distribution among people of different ages, nationalities and genders. Current statistics show that the number of women trading digital money has increased by 40% and that cryptocurrencies are spreading four times faster in developing countries than in industrialized countries. The decentralized nature of the blockchain works well in practice and gives everyone the same rights, regardless of financial or national factors“”

Related: The number of women in the crypto and blockchain industry will skyrocket in 2020

Faith Obafemi, blockchain lawyer at Future-Proof Intelligence, an internet company that focuses on new technologies such as Blockchain and cryptocurrency, He also offered further information and told Cointelegraph that “The space is more diverse and integrative“and adds:

“Perhaps this can be attributed to the fact that basically Both crypto and blockchain have the primary goal of removing obstacles to inclusiveness. There are also underrepresented people who lead some of the most important projects in the room. And they have significant community support. This does not dispute the fact that more needs to be done. Take deliberate steps, for example, to remove systematic and unconscious prejudices. “

The obstacles

In a perfect system Meritocracy was supposed to boost the tech industry and thus the crypto space. In fact, the best talent working on developing innovative solutions will only help drive relentless progress. The existence of discriminatory or exclusionary practices, either deliberately or as a by-product of an implicit bias, contradicts the spirit of meritocracy. However, there is anecdotal and factual evidence to suggest this These prejudices come in various facets of the technology and financial services sectors.

According to Obafemi Implicit bias can be a major obstacle for people from minority groups in the crypto space, because colored people often have to assume that they are poorly prepared for the job based solely on the tone of your skin. In the broader technology scene, this biased view extends beyond the hiring cycle to daily interactions with the “Diversity Setting” label, often in close accompaniment.

The “label” bias is a complain ordinary black workers in technology companies, because practice shows an insidious message that certain people are not welcome or do not belong to the industry. In response, Some technology and financial services minority groups take part in code-changing events to reflect the “culture of excellence”. unwritten and unspoken by these industries. Project funding is also another matter for minority groups, and according to Richardson, this problem is an extension of reality in larger educational and technology institutions, adding:

“In general, the crypto space as well as the technology space is controlled by a group of technology / student networks and access by investors (think alumni of large universities, incubators and companies) venture capital etc.) and the general minority participation in these areas is historically low. Until recently, there has been no concerted effort to invest dollars and promote resources that target technologists and group entrepreneurs from underrepresented minorities, and I am not sure that this feeling / effort will reach the awareness of leaders in the crypto space Has. “

However, Richardson of Fireblocks expressed his hope for it The current global awareness of racial injustices can stimulate important interest groups to drive necessary changes. Anino Emuwa, founder of Avandis Consulting, spoke about this during the third edition of the Cointelegraph Talks Series Industry leaders have been instrumental in improving diversity and inclusion. For Sim, the skin color in the crypto space plays an insignificant role.

“So far I would not say that there are visible racist prejudices in the world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. If there is discrimination or inequality in this marketIt’s not about the color of the skin, it’s about it geopolitical factors or in particular the different attitudes of governments towards cryptocurrencies and their stricter regulation“”

Obafemi also offered a similar idea: “Most people only care about the value you can bring for your project. Keyword: THE MAJORITY. They don’t care if you’re a woman or a colored person“And he added:”The rest are surprised to see a woman who understands blockchain. They hope that men have more knowledge. “

How about talent training?

Technology and financial services companies need to make a profit, and they have to requires continuous training of talented people to develop innovative solutions. The same reality applies to the cryptocurrency space and Every lecture on diversity and inclusion should extend to talent training.

In fact, the next generation of workers should include more people from minority groups to improve the total number of representations. In this sense it is Cryptocurrency and blockchain organizations are developing educational content so that more young people are interested in technology.

Hao from OKEx found that the top companies in the industry only have to look after talent: “There are no real obstacles to entering the room. The main crypto leaders are trying to recruit the best talent for their businesses, be it men, women, black, white, etc.. “He added:” We are all facing the same challenges, namely awareness raising and education in general. “

For Hao, Efforts to improve the diversity of cryptocurrency and the blockchain space should include initiatives designed to encourage young people to pursue careers in computer programming: “More and more educational courses and teachers are appearing in blockchain and crypto space, and I think that’s important too.”

As Cointelegraph has reported several times, various cryptocurrency and blockchain companies like Binance and OKEx develop learning content for the community. In early June, peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchange Paxful announced plans to conduct online Bitcoin courses across Africa. CoinDCX, an Indian cryptocurrency exchange, recently launched a blockchain-based education platform.

Related: LGBTQ + on Blockchain / Cryptos: A safe place with room for more inclusion

Diversity in the context of a global crypto community

Amidst the decentralization of knowledge to include more places around the world, there is a desire for entrepreneurs to develop solutions that address unique problems in their respective communities. From Nigeria to Kenya and even In South Africa, young people use blockchain technology in areas such as rural electrification, agriculture, identity management and money transfer.

In fact, they report that the young population in Africa uses crypto and blockchain technology. Google Trends data shows this Nigeria has the world’s greatest interest in Bitcoin searches, with South Africa and Ghana also in the top 5.

In the United States, initiatives such as the Black Girls Code are also trying to get underrepresented people ready for technology. These organizations even try Solve several racial and gender diversity issues by encouraging young women with skin color to be interested in areas such as computer programming and STEM education.

Since the blockchain is also becoming more global, it may be so It is important to study the concept of diversity, far from the borders of Silicon Valley, since the Internet is the basis for the dissemination and spread of knowledgeSpreading technological innovations around the world. According to Hao, the open source nature of cryptocurrency and blockchain innovation drives global engagement and promotes greater diversity and inclusion:

“I think like The crypto space is so new and many technology and programming languages ​​can be learned online from open source without costs, facilitates the entry of more people compared to the broader technology industry. “

In the context of a global technology movement, terms like “minority” tend to lose any real meaning. In a multicultural society like that of the United States, it may be appropriate to examine the level of diversity and inclusion. However, Outside of the United States, people with different backgrounds and ethnicities are participating in the growing cryptocurrency and blockchain scene. Many of these places are newcomers Avoiding difficulties due to insufficient technical training and poor access to the Internet. For Gray Jabesi, the moderator of the Hardc0re Crypt0 podcast, the responsibility lies with passionate and motivated people to profile themselves in the industry:

“”This is a new industry with endless possibilities, but you have to be curious, creative and start on your own because nobody will take you by the hand.It is not a 4 year course. You just need the “Do it yourself” setting and anyone can do it. “

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