Monthly Archives: April 2015

When Policy Gets Personal

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April 29  |  Education  |   Carl Guardino
YWLS2015

Women leaders and middle school girls at our 2015 Young Women’s Leadership Summit

Here’s food for thought . . . Often, the best policies are driven from personal experience.

On May 16, 2009, the call came. A brave 17-year-old Latina from a small town in Utah had given birth to a 5-pound, 6-ounce baby girl — her second child in two years. Without a job or high school diploma, she made the gut-wrenching decision to entrust her newborn into the hands of strangers …my wife, Leslee, and me.

As we look at the trajectory of Latinas in Silicon Valley who graduate from high school, go to college, graduate with a STEM degree and work for one of our Valley’s innovation economy companies, the odds decrease to single digits.

This must change. Silicon Valley’s population is 27 percent Latino, a number that will grow to 40 percent by 2050. Already, kindergarten-aged students are close to 50 percent Latino, yet we are collectively not equipping those kids with the tools needed for 21st Century success.

It’s why yesterday, as one step in a long STEM pipeline, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group hosted its 14th “Young Women’s Leadership Summit” in just the past six years. More than 3,500 middle school girls have been inspired – and inspired us – with their dreams and determination for a life better lived with a diploma in hand.

For the Leadership Group’s workplan, the pipeline for education success is long – early childhood education; transitional kindergarten; tutoring in reading, science and math; healthy school meals, summer fellowships for teachers in tech-companies and scholarships for Latino students studying STEM in college. Yet we know that making meaningful change in the life of a child is not limited to one day of inspiration. Rather, it is a lifetime of validation.

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Past Time to Reduce Water Use

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April 22  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Stand strong, Governor, and Silicon Valley will stand for you.

Recently, Governor Brown made the hard but necessary step to call for an average of 25 percent water use reduction throughout our state.

Numerous communities, and clusters of the economy, have expressed concern and have called for exemptions. I appreciate the concern, but candidly, our Governor is correct.

We are in the 4th year of a historic drought, and no one knows when or if Mother Nature will turn the spigot back on to make the Golden State green. In fact, many scientists believe our more recent weather conditions will be the “new normal” for the foreseeable future.

It is past time for bold and necessary steps, such as the steps our Governor has called for, to greatly reduce water use.

It is also a unique opportunity for Silicon Valley to step forward with creative and innovative ways where we can apply technological advancements to enhance the efficient use of water.

What we cannot do is ignore the seriousness of the conditions we face. For water-wise tips, contact the Santa Clara Valley Water District today. Silicon Valley can lead by example, and we can and should stand with the Governor to greatly reduce water use.

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Practice What You Preach

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April 15  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Practice what you preach.

More and more, we read and hear about the need for more ethnic and gender diversity in Silicon Valley.

And rightly so. Our companies are global, and it is in our own self-interest to foster a world-class workforce that reflects the diversity of our planet. This is smart for all employers, whether high-tech, low-tech or no-tech.

Yet it is a goal that I would liken to a unicorn . . . often discussed but rarely seen. We can do better.

I was recently challenged, in a positive way, to look internally before I speak externally. Is my own organization diverse? My workforce, my executive team, my Board of Directors, my foundation Board of Directors. Fair enough.

While far from perfect, today, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group has a positive story to tell, but could still do better:

  • Of our 24 member staff, 14 are female and 10 are male. Of those 24 professionals, 14 are Caucasian, and 10 are non-white.
  • Of my executive staff, three are female and five are male, with five Caucasian and three non-white.
  • Our foundation Board, which is responsible for such community-based efforts as the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot, Santa Run Silicon Valley, Heart & Soles 5K, and our “1,000 Hearts for 1,000 Minds” tutoring initiative, seven board members are female and seven are male, with our ethnic diversity currently with 11 Caucasian and three non-white.
  • Our Leadership Group Board of Directors needs more work, with seven female and 40 male, and our ethnic diversity showing 36 Caucasian and 11 non-white.

Our reasons for promoting diversity are simple. We know we will be more successful if we hear more points of view, and benefit from a wider range of experiences. There is a reason the term “Yes Men” is an insult . . . it is what you get when you only seek one point of view from one type of person. Growing a more diverse workforce here in Silicon Valley is not a box that we check, it is a business imperative that will only make our success more assured.

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The Visa Lottery

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April 1  |  Federal Issues  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s good for thought … “The lottery.”

A random lottery is not how America should recruit for talent.

Yet a lottery system – the luck of the draw – is what the U.S. government believes is the best way for innovation economy companies to compete for top talent born around the globe.

Adding to the irony, April 1st – yes, April Fools’ Day – is the annual day the visa lottery for talent begins.

After 9/11, an artificial annual cap of 65,000 was set for high-skill, high-wage, high-tech workers. The number is so artificially low that the applications exceed it in a single day. Then everyone waits to see if they win the global war for talent based solely on luck.

America can do better. Pass the U.S. Senate’s bi-partisan “I-Squared” bill. Help America better educate kids blessed to be born in the United States while also recruiting the best and brightest kids born around the world.

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