It’s a known fact that there is a diversity, equity, and inclusion issue in the tech industry. Whether it be in investment funds, senior roles in companies, salaries, hiring algorithms, or more, the gaps are everywhere in the tech ecosystem for women, minorities, the LGBT+ community, young people, and people with handicaps. To put it in perspective, 90 percent of the financing in Europe in 2021 went to startups with men as the primary founders. Moreover, white founders represented 92 percent of all funding stages in 2021, whereas only 8 percent was represented by minorities. When it comes to youth, 16% of people under 25 years old are unemployed, which is two times the national average for all age groups – the highest rate since 2001.
While it is great to define the problem and raise awareness of the gaps in the tech industry, it's even better to take action against them. It's once we start taking steps down the right path that we start to see improvements in the statistics. For Viva Technology, Inclusion and Diversity is one of the key themes of the 2022 edition. More specifically, there will be a large focus on empowering young people and women this year. Here is a highlight of some of the inclusion initiatives we are launching with several partners with the goal of pushing towards a more inclusive and diverse tech ecosystem.
Photo credit : Make.org
Many students say they are worried about their choice of career path, while recent graduates are facing difficulties in finding their first job. In France in 2020, 1.6 million young people were "neither in employment, nor in education, nor in training". For the second year, VivaTech is partnering with make.org to support their public campaign for #YouthSolutions in society in France. The core question is “What are some solutions that can help young people find their place in society?” Anyone can suggest a solution on make.org’s website and can upvote or downvote the ideas they think are most helpful. The aim of this initiative is to bring to light and co-construct concrete solutions to help young people find their place and build their future with the best chances of success. The public campaign will close on May 22 and a plan of action will be constructed so that in the beginning of 2023, make.org, along with their partners, will begin implementing the most popular projects of the campaign across France.
Photo credit : Diversidays
On the Saturday of VivaTech this year, Diversidays will take the stage to talk about diversity in the tech ecosystem. Diversidays is an organization promoting social, cultural and ethnic diversity in the digital sphere — through training and mentoring, running events and engaging with economic and political decision makers across France. At VivaTech, they will introduce a handful of speakers who will talk about their journey, convictions and actions for a fairer world, and will have round of entrepreneur pitches from underrepresented areas, people from low-income areas or with handicaps, as well as women and youth - a great opportunity to highlight and promote a new generation of tech talents.
VivaTech Challenges and Awards
Clarisse Hagège, 2021 FFC winner. Photo credit: VivaTech Mouhamed Seck, 2021 NSC winner. Photo credit: VivaTech
For the past five years, VivaTech’s Startup Challenges have been a core part of VivaTech’s DNA, showcasing our open-innovation mechanism that connects startups with industry leaders, corporates, ecosystem and institutional partners. We have two core challenges this year that shine a light on the inclusion gaps in the tech ecosystem.
Female Founder Challenge - For the fourth year in a row, VivaTech, in partnership with 50inTech, launched the Female Founder Challenge. The goal of this challenge is to facilitate VC-startup meetings in order to accelerate the financing of women-led startups and also to urge VC funds to commit to more gender equality at all levels. Last year's winner was Clarisse Hagège who co-founded DFNS, a start-up that provides banks and fintechs with an infrastructure to secure their cryptocurrencies. After pitching on the stage at VivaTech, she got personalized mentoring on fundraising and the unique opportunity to meet with high-level VCs.
Next Startupper Challenge - The Next StartUpper Challenge was launched in collaboration with FrenchFounders to schools and universities in France in order to promote impact entrepreneurship among students and young people. Students pitch their innovative ideas to a jury of entrepreneurship experts and get feedback on their projects. The winner will get a startup corner at the next VivaTech edition as well as coaching from mentors to help grow their project. Check out the story of last year’s winner here.
WoGiTech at VivaTech 2021. Photo credit: Digital Ladies & Allies
An organization founded by a mother-daughter tech duo, WoGiTech (Women and Girls in Tech) was created to develop intergenerational exchanges around tech to share and help discover the opportunities of the digital world and the tech ecosystem. On the Saturday of VivaTech, WoGiTech will have two separate immersive programs available, one focusing on Girls in Tech, the other on Women in Tech.
Girls in Tech - More than 3,000 girls will discover the different career options in the tech industry thanks to a visit around our partners’ labs and booths; groups will be accompanied by a mentor from an association to lead them through the event and help break down the stereotypes surrounding the tech ecosystem.
Women in Tech - Recent graduates, entrepreneurs, or women looking to change careers will be invited to discover VivaTech’s floor at their own pace or in groups with the global goal of leading women to take their place in the tech sphere.
Having goals is one thing, knowing how to achieve them is another. Having a good mentor and someone who can give young people advice is crucial for deciding their next steps. That is why L’Escalator, a French startup incubator, will be hosting a speed-coaching operation at VivaTech. There will be two speed-coaching slots on Saturday where mentors will come to help young people on topics such as: CV and cover letter proofreading, professional orientation, entrepreneurial project help, etc. The 1 to 1 coaching will be oriented towards young people in situations of exclusion (social, educational, professional).
Facing the problems of diversity, equity and inclusion in the tech industry is important for the growth of the French tech sphere because there is a large pool of talent not being utilized. According to WoGiTech, 170,000 to 212,000 jobs in the digital sector risk not being filled in France in 2022 if the current trend continues. Therefore, it is crucial that women and youth reinvest in tech and that tech organizations reinvest in women and youth. Through the group of initiatives put forward by VivaTech this year we can start creating a community of cohesion between youth, females, our partners, startups, VivaTech, and the entirety of the tech community.