Jesse Jackson renews push for diversity in high-tech world

Friday, April 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ The Rev. Jesse Jackson renewed his push for increased diversity in the high-tech world Thursday, telling a conference sponsored by his organization that minorities and women still rarely are seen in Silicon Valley boardrooms.

Silicon Valley companies are known for having diverse work forces. However, Jackson said that among the 356 directors at the 44 high-tech companies his Rainbow/PUSH organization owns stock in, just six are black, three are Hispanic, 19 are Asian and 35 are women.

``The American dream can only work when everybody is included,'' Jackson told about 200 people in a hotel ballroom. ``We who have been locked out traditionally represent market, money, talent and growth.''

Jackson pointed to the success of minorities in sports, saying ``that is the real world order.''

Rainbow/PUSH's three-day ``Digital Connections'' conference on high-tech diversity is attracting some of the area's biggest companies.

During a lunch address, Cisco Systems Inc. chief executive John Chambers said the Internet is creating a new industrial revolution, and only education and connectivity will ensure everyone will see the benefits.

Every home in the United States should have high-speed Internet access, he said. At the same time, the education system must be improved.

``If I build a six-lane highway to your home and then give you just a bicycle to ride on, you are not going to receive the benefits,'' he said.

Chambers said businesses should give back to their communities to improve high-tech education. He pointed to Cisco's Networking Academy, which teaches students how to build and maintain computer networks.