Our Quest to Bridge the Diversity Gap

on 09 | 10 | 2019

National Science Foundation Grant to Contribute to National Talent Ecosystem in STEM

As a tech recruiting firm in the heart of Silicon Valley, we have a front row view of how skewed the supply and demand are in tech recruiting. Qualified candidates in software engineering or data science can walk away with multiple offers within a few weeks with a compensation package that makes you wonder, “How can the companies ever make progress at this level of talent shortage and cost?” Yet, we also know that this hot talent market is remarkably skewed with gender, racial and socio-economic background. Only twenty-six percent of the software engineering workforce were women in 2018[1], only 2.2% of first generation graduates major in Computer Science[2], and only 3.41% of software engineering degrees are awarded to Hispanics, only 1.3% degrees are awarded to people who identify as black or African American. There are slightly more Asian graduates at 8.7%.[3] The data makes you wonder whether we could have a better talent supply if the STEM field could be more inclusive. In the big picture, this talent shortage signifies a warning signal that the effort in innovation and shifting to AI-powered digitization will be limited by a growing shortage of qualified talent.

As a recruiting firm with a strong Data Science and Technology focus, we really wanted to help. Partnering with University of Virginia Economics department, supported by the Convergence Accelerator awards from the National Science Foundation, Riviera is starting the journey of building an AI-powered application that can help people successfully navigate STEM careers with a focus on developing a long term success in tech. This application brings insights backed by Riviera Partners’ success in tech recruiting with thousands of successful placements, across the U.S. over two decades. We’ve captured 18 years of recruiting process data and can identify and illustrate the typical career paths for engineers, tech product managers and designers. The app considers industry trends and reveals a candidate’s likelihood of achieving overall career goals. When released the Riviera app will be free and available to the public.

We believe that anyone can achieve anything if the path and direction are clear. There are large populations in the US that don’t know where and how to start a technology career. There are communities, even in the hotbed of the Bay Area, that don’t have access to the information and network that Silicon Valley employees benefit from naturally. Riviera will work with nonprofit organizations to reach out to these communities to make sure our tool is easy to use and gives them perspectives that are practical, feasible, and that can transform their career trajectory.

We are so excited by this opportunity. We always believe that data science and technology can serve people and make life better for everyone. We believe the tech field can be diverse and bring opportunities to everyone. This is our journey to help.

[1] Women in Technology, May 2019

[2] NACE Journal, November 2016

[3] DataUSA.io