Last week, North­eastern University-​​Seattle con­vened top offi­cials from tech­nology com­pa­nies in the North­west and com­mu­nity leaders including Rev. Jesse Jackson to dis­cuss ways to increase work­force oppor­tu­nity and income equality for minori­ties and women in these sectors.

The Dec. 3 meeting included exec­u­tives from Amazon, Google, Impinj, and Moz, as well as leaders from the Rainbow PUSH Coalition—of which Jackson is founder and president—and African-​​American leaders in the Seattle area. At the meeting, the com­pany exec­u­tives com­mitted to working together to make Pacific North­west tech firms the national leaders in work­force diver­sity throughout the cor­po­rate ladder. These posi­tions include soft­ware engi­neers, admin­is­tra­tive leaders and CEOs, and board mem­bers. They also include the many tech industry jobs—lawyers, accoun­tants, and secu­rity per­sonnel, among others—that don’t require STEM credentials.

Tayloe Wash­burn, dean and CEO of North­eastern University-​​Seattle, said he will work closely these com­pa­nies and the Wash­ington Tech­nology Industry Asso­ci­a­tion in coming months to design a series of imple­men­ta­tion strate­gies to ensure these com­mit­ments are met.

The meeting dove­tailed with the momentum building nation­ally to increase oppor­tu­ni­ties for minori­ties and women in the tech industry. Top tech­nology com­pa­nies have released work­force data in recent months that show a lack of diver­sity within these firms. The result of this data—which show that males over­whelm­ingly out­number females in tech jobs, and that work­forces are largely white and Asian—have these com­pa­nies looking to close the gap.

This dia­logue on work­place diver­sity con­tinued the fol­lowing day, Dec. 4, at Northeastern-​​Seattle, where North­west leaders in gov­ern­ment, busi­ness, and labor engaged in a panel dis­cus­sion mod­er­ated by Joanne Gold­stein, asso­ciate vice pres­i­dent for work­force devel­op­ment and employer engage­ment in the Col­lege of Pro­fes­sional Studies. Around 100 people attended the panel dis­cus­sion, in which par­tic­i­pants dis­cussed strate­gies to pro­vide more job oppor­tu­ni­ties, higher wages, better health, and greater oppor­tu­nity for low-​​income cit­i­zens and minori­ties in the Seattle area.

North­eastern University-​​Seattle, which launched in 2013, is located in the city’s South Lake Union neigh­bor­hood, an inno­v­a­tive hub of global health, life sci­ences, and tech­nology com­pa­nies and insti­tu­tions. The grad­uate campus offers a range of dynamic grad­uate degree pro­grams in high-​​demand fields such as cyber­se­cu­rity, health infor­matics, com­puter sci­ence, bioin­for­matics, and engi­neering, all of which align with the needs of the Puget Sound region. Degree pro­grams are taught based on a hybrid delivery model that inte­grates both online and class­room learning.