LOS ANGELES — Today, Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Annenberg Foundation, and over 80 Los Angeles venture capitalists (VCs) and tech leaders launched PledgeLA, a first-of-its-kind partnership to promote civic engagement, diversity, and inclusion across L.A.’s booming and dynamic tech sector. PledgeLA signatories are making a commitment to track civic participation and diversity data each year and make that data publicly available, as well as expand their engagement with local nonprofits that support diverse talent and reflect the civic spirit of Los Angeles.
“Our City’s diversity is our competitive advantage, so we are always looking around the corner for ways to ensure every Angeleno has a chance to succeed in the industries of tomorrow,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “L.A.’s tech growth is no accident – it is a tribute to our region’s tradition of creativity, leadership in innovation, and wealth of talent. With PledgeLA, we will promote transparency in a growing sector and open the doors of opportunity to our diverse base of workers, no matter their race, gender, or background.”
The Los Angeles region is among the fastest-growing tech hubs in the country. In 2017, the area saw a 120 percent increase in venture capital funding over four years earlier – and the 100 largest tech companies in L.A. and Orange County reported a 24 percent increase in employment from the previous year. Nonetheless, diverse talent remains vastly underrepresented in the workforce of the local tech sector.
The landmark PledgeLA initiative grew out of a series of problem-solving sessions within the Los Angeles venture capital community. Building on its successful program, AnnenbergTech, the Annenberg Foundation has served as the incubator and seed funder for PledgeLA. It will continue to grow the project to connect VCs and tech leaders with civic engagement opportunities and a new pipeline of job applicants that better reflect the entire city. Additional philanthropic partnerships, including the Weingart Foundation, will serve to support and financially sustain the initiative in an effort to help close the opportunity gap.
“As we expanded the Foundation’s involvement in the city’s growing tech community with our AnnenbergTech initiative, we saw an opportunity to become a catalyst to help launch PledgeLA,” said Annenberg Foundation Chairman, President and CEO Wallis Annenberg. “This commitment from L.A.’s venture capitalists and Mayor Garcetti means that change is happening, and this change is good, as long as we can work to make Los Angeles a more diverse, inclusive and community-focused city that benefits everyone.”
“Investing in a diverse array of founders, looking for talent in all corners of the city, and bringing different voices to the table when making decisions on investments is just smart business,” said Upfront Ventures Partner Kobie Fuller. “We know companies with a diverse workforce are more successful, which, in turn, increases community engagement and provides opportunities for the community-at-large. PledgeLA will put Los Angeles on the right trajectory.”
“Diversity and inclusion is a cornerstone of our hiring process and we applaud the Mayor’s office for making this initiative a priority,” said Rob Lloyd, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop One. “As we continue to grow our global innovation campus here in Los Angeles, we look forward to working with the team to honor this pledge we’ve made to the community.”
Starting immediately, PledgeLA signatories will complete a survey detailing the civic contribution and diversity within their respective firms. The aggregated data will be organized to provide a baseline of community engagement, the demographic composition of L.A.’s tech ecosystem, and will be shared publicly. After that, the Annenberg Foundation and Mayor’s Office will work with the sector to clearly define action items and a series of metrics for improvement, and serve as an intermediary to connect funders and companies to the existing and growing pipeline of diversified talent.
Read the full story from Mayor Eric Garcetti.