Portland Diversity in Tech, 2017 Results

When the TechTown Portland Diversity Pledge launched in 2015, industry leaders committed to five actions to improve workforce diversity and workplace inclusion. One action is “Share our collective data” on the race and gender demographics of our offices in the Portland metro area. This page shares the two years of data we have collected, which is being used to both track our progress and design interventions that best achieve the goal of the TechTown Diversity Pledge.

Our Five Actions

Learn more about our five actions

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“Having the first female win the 2017 Tech Executive of the Year after 33 years of programming had our whole team glowing - we loved seeing more women on stage and see it as a small, but strong step in the right direction in the years ahead.”

Theresa Jelderks, Senior Director of Operations at Technology Association of Oregon


Female Workers

Sam Blackman

Founder + CEO of AWS Elemental

How do you think the diversity pledge effort is impacting the tech industry in Portland?
It has raised awareness of not just the (obvious) lack of diversity in the tech community, but the cultural inclusion challenges that many organizations face due to a lack of understanding and representation of marginalized groups. It has also made many of the participating companies consciously invest many more hours and resources in this element of running an optimal business than we did previously, including setting goals around D&I progress that are tracked regularly.
What positive changes have you seen within your company since this initiative launched?
It has triggered valuable and sometimes difficult conversations that have improved our culture for the entire team. Many if not all AWS Elementals yearn for a more equitable and inclusive company (and society!), so I think they are pleased with our efforts here. That said, we are wholly aware that there is much work left to be done to truly move the needle.
What have you personally learned in the last two years when it comes to diversity and inclusion?
First and foremost, I have learned that I aspire to be an ally to marginalized groups – and more importantly, what that fundamentally entails! It means taking the time to get educated on the subtle cues that define our work environment, having difficult conversations with an array of people across the organization, and knowing that I will make mistakes, often embarrassing ones, along the way.

Compared Across Portland's Workforce

Data received from a report prepared by DHM Research

Diversity By:

  • 2016
  • Men
  • Women

DHM acknowledges the imprecise nature of conducting analysis comparing white to all non-white participants. For example, the Asian population is overrepresented in the pool of Diversity Pledge employees and the software/tech industry in the Portland MSA in comparison to the general population. That said, this analysis is still a useful proxy, especially considering the difficulties in running statistical tests in comparing small populations.

2017: Survey Data

Diversity By:


Technical position

Non-technical position

Leadership and Management


New Hires in 2017






Person of Color



*2016 Numbers: 43% Female, 13% LGBTQ, 18% Person of Color, 2% Veteran

“I can’t imagine baseball without Jackie Robinson, or tennis without the Williams sisters, but if we can’t make tech companies diverse, we risk cutting that greatness out of our industry.”

Luke Kanies, founder of Puppet

2017 18%

2016 14%

P.O.C. Workers

“Inaugural results of the TechTown Diversity Pledge show that our collective diversity efforts have only just begun. Zapproved and fellow pledge companies will have to put in consistent efforts to find meaningful results. Embracing diversity as a corporate value, engaging in open and honest conversations, and keeping diversity/inclusion top-of-mind will be essential.”

Erica Tafavoti

Digital Marketing Manager at Planet Argon

How do you think the diversity pledge effort is impacting the tech industry in Portland?
I think the first step in change is making people uncomfortably aware of existing issues. The first diversity survey probably uncovered some numbers that had not been considered at all before. Now that there are two years of data, companies are able to see the beginnings of change for the better. The result has been steps toward more fair interviewing and hiring processes (which likely means a better experience for applicants), an increase in meaningful connections within the local tech community, and overall a higher level of awareness and intention from the participating companies.
What positive changes have you seen within your company since this initiative launched?
We're making a dedicated effort to get involved in local diversity groups. It's easy to brush off community events and mentorship opportunities since they aren't "moneymakers." But we've made partnering with local groups like PDX Women in Tech and Epicodus a high priority. Even when we aren't actively hiring, this helps us make meaningful connections with others in the tech field who might be from underrepresented groups.
What have you personally learned in the last two years when it comes to diversity and inclusion?
I've become aware that diversity goes far beyond simply increasing the number of minority and underrepresented employees at a company. There are many processes and changes that companies may need to implement to reduce bias in hiring, and to even open up their options to a diverse range of applicants in the first place. I've also become more aware of the small-scale interactions and micro-aggressions that people from underrepresented groups experience daily, in and out of the workplace.

This survey is made possible because of support of Prosper Portland. As the city's economic development agency, Prosper Portland focuses on building an equitable economy through work based on four cornerstones: growing family-wage jobs, advancing opportunities for prosperity, collaborating with partners for an equitable city, and creating vibrant neighborhoods and communities.