Diversity in Leadership

a multi-ethnic group of people in a crowd.


In support of Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s 25 x 25 Program

Recently, it was heartwarming to see leaders from 20 Silicon Valley companies and organizations pledge an ambitious shared goal—to diversify top leadership fast. Each company pledged that at least 25 percent of its leadership will be composed of people of color and women or there will be an increase of underrepresented individuals in its leadership by at least 25 percent—by 2025.

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s national 25×25 Pledge is an extraordinary effort to collaborate on a vision to fundamentally change the way we do business and I am encouraged to see this equity movement progress. This is how things are done in Silicon Valley—big and bold transformational moves.

UC Santa Cruz and the greater University of California have a deep commitment to justice, equity, and diversity. We continue as an institution to learn and support change for a better world. 

The Challenge of Change

Much has been said in recent years about diversity and inequity in the workplace. Here in Silicon Valley, corporate leaders have promised to increase diversity for years. Many past efforts, however, have only been marginally effective, at best. The historic legacy has been difficult to shift. 

Even after years of concerted efforts, including recent legislation to increase the number of women on corporate boards, the percentage of leaders in our minority workforce has remained in the single digits. The number of underrepresented people in executive positions for many of the largest companies—Alphabet, Apple, Cisco and Facebook—hovered below 3.5 percent in 2018.

The 25 X 25 Pledge

The multi-pronged SLVG pledge includes annually shared metrics; employee training to foster inclusion and reduce unconscious bias; and a commitment to increase resources by 25 percent by 2025 for funding and community engagement in support of underrepresented groups and expansion of minority talent pipelines.

Ahmad Thomas, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, calls it “the right thing to do to meet this moment.” But, he said it’s more than just right; it’s about the bottom line. “We leave revenue, market share and innovation on the table when our decision makers and leadership teams don’t reflect the communities that we serve.”

We simply need to have diversity in leadership to strengthen our economy.

Changing Hearts and Minds through Education  

At UCSC Silicon Valley, we are also actively working to shift the paradigm. We have just completed teaching the first cohort in our new introductory Diversity Equity Inclusion course. In creating our DEI program, we hope to amplify the voices calling for change and provide real-world tools and community support for people taking steps to build a more equitable world. Curriculum focuses on the historic and legislative legacy that brings us to where we are now and solutions that we each can implement in our lives, our classrooms, and in our workplaces. Students grappling with the deep issues of transformation, have asked for extended learning with DEI program founder Shindale Seale, Ed.D., M.Ed., who has designed both a reflective and practical program.

“For too long, countless marginalized bodies have cried out for the acknowledgement of challenges in our lived experiences,” says Mayen Udoetuk, Ed.D., director of program and partner development. Spearheading these DEI initiatives for Extension, she is committed to build out new curricula, networks, and partnerships.

“As one such individual, I am thrilled to conceptualize and lead DEI initiatives for Extension and help position the organization to reduce disparities through workforce training and community conversations.”

In addition to our Introduction to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and DEI for the C-Suite courses, we offer two specializations: DEI for Educators and DEI for Early Childhood Success. Our offerings will expand into other industries as we work with our partners in the community to develop in-demand curriculum. 

As we gear up for our next round of DEI classes, we invite you to join us, to earn a credential, and be among the DEI leaders to march us into the future.

Amplifying our Voices

To quote Alan Watts, “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” 

If there are enough voices calling for change then change becomes simpler. I ask you to act by taking whatever platform you have to spread and amplify this message. A few years from now we’ll look back and have something to celebrate.

PK Agarwal
Dean, UCSC Silicon Valley Extension

Leave a Reply