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The Future of Work

Black Girls Code Is Moving Into Google's New York Offices

Google is bringing its investment in diversity closer to home.

Black Girls Code Is Moving Into Google's New York Offices

In a bid to develop a pool of more diverse job candidates, Google is cutting out the pipeline and going right to the source.

Tomorrow, Black Girls Code will celebrate the opening of a new office inside Google’s New York City building. The organization will use the 3,000-square-foot space as both a classroom and a base for coordinating its East Coast programs. The nonprofit teaches girls of color to code through a variety of programs ranging from one-day seminars to longer six- or 12-week programs. The organization hopes that being inside Google’s "cocoon" will give its girls deeper access to mentorship and internship opportunities at the search giant, says Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant.

Google has hosted events with Black Girls Code in the past, but this puts the organization in much closer proximity to Google's daily operations.

The launch event will feature a list of speakers including New York City's Chief Technology Officer Minerva Tantoco, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and Dominique Sharpton of National Action Network, as well as Black Girls CODE CEO Kimberly Bryant and Google’s Vice President for Partnership Sales Bonita Stewart.

What makes this new arrangement with Black Girls Code different from just an ordinary philanthropic investment, says Bryant, is that Googlers in the New York office will have an opportunity to directly interact with young women of color on a regular basis.

"They can also learn from us," says Bryant, "seeing the work that we’re doing right under their roof, so to speak, in engaging these younger communities of color."

That insight might be helpful to the company as it seeks to amend its dismal track record of hiring mostly white men. When the company first released statistics on its employees' racial background and gender in 2014, it promised to do better. But last year, when the company revealed its statistics again, little had changed. African-Americans still comprised just 2% of company staff.

Since then, Google has put its money where its mouth is. In 2015, it committed to spending $150 million on inclusion programs and diversity initiatives both inside and outside the Googleplex. Beyond granting cash to institutions like Black Girls Code, the company is recruiting from a wider pool of colleges around the U.S. in an effort to find talent. It’s also building out programs internally aimed at making its office culture more inclusive to a broad spectrum of people.

While training people to address their biases and blind spots is noble, what will ultimately help Googlers be more inclusive is spending time with people who have a different perspective. If Black Girls Code is able to become integrated at Google New York, rather than staying siloed within its own office, it could help make the concept of inclusivity more concrete to workers there.

Since founding in 2011, Black Girls Code has worked with 6,000 kids, teaching them to code and build mobile apps. The goal is to train 1 million young women of color by 2040.

Related video: C/I is a non-profit helping to change what computer science—and computer scientists—looks like.

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