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Why ActivateWork?

Recognizing the Need for a Diverse Talent Ecosystem

June 7, 2023
By Rae Turkus, Director of Employer Experience

As a woman in tech, I am keenly aware of the lack of female representation in the industry. As of this writing, women hold just 26.7% of all technology jobs – down from the all-time high in 1985 when women held 35% of industry positions. Bringing awareness to the continued lack of parity in pay, position, and title for women in technology is something that I have been passionate and vocal about throughout my career.

The Introduction
At a recent networking event for women in tech, I was introduced to Linda Montgomery with ActivateWork. Linda introduced me to ActivateWork’s innovative program as well as an issue I hadn’t considered. Besides a gender gap in tech, there’s an overall lack of diversity – one that has been exacerbated by recent layoffs. Our conversation inspired me to take a deeper look.

Diversity in Tech
Racial inequity is pervasive in tech as demonstrated here:

13% of the workforce are Black, yet they hold only


of tech jobs

17% of the workforce is Hispanic, yet they hold only 


of STEM jobs

Women in tech leave their roles by age 35 and don’t return


Even with recent layoffs in the industry, according to
Gartner, tech is still forecasted to grow more than 5% in 2023. Importantly, layoffs disproportionately affect women and people of color.

The primary concern for tech companies? How to bridge the talent gap and fill pipelines with skilled workers. The hiring process is long, and it is difficult to retain talent. When limiting hiring practices are used it further restricts the talent pool and overlooks available talent.

Denver as a Community
Coincidentally, I had the opportunity to hear Helen Young Hayes, Founder and CEO of ActivateWork, speak to BRAG (Business Resource Alliance Group) here in Denver. Her discussion about diversity, equity, and inclusion moved me. She shared these interesting facts about Colorado: 

#12 most prosperous state

#37 in racial diversity

#1 in white-Latino Education Gap

#2 in white-Black Education Gap

Finally, that Black and Latino Coloradans are twice as likely to live in poverty as white Coloradans.

I found those numbers to be stunning and not representative of the community I want for my children.

Helen ended that day with a simple statement, “We are the people we have been waiting for.” With that, I knew that ActivateWork was where I not only wanted to be but also belonged. Serving and representing not only women in technology but all of DEI and helping end poverty in Colorado is a purpose that speaks to me.

The Benefits of Diversity
Creating a diverse culture is not a leadership exercise nor a box to tick; it provides real progress and drives results:

  • Companies with gender diversity are 25% more likely to be above average profitability.
  • Businesses with ethnic diversity were 36% more likely to be above average profitability.
  • 75% of companies with ethnic diversity will exceed their financial goals.

Looking at job satisfaction and attractiveness to new employees, diverse culture is preferred by:



of job seekers


of college graduates


of consumers

In a diverse culture, overall job and personal satisfaction are higher, with more employee engagement and less absenteeism. As an added bonus, the mental and physical health of team members tends to be better.

With this information at my fingertips, I was compelled to connect with Helen Young Hayes and Kathryn Harris, and I’m pleased to be joining them in ActivateWork’s important mission.

ActivateWork is Reinventing Hiring
ActivateWork is working to solve the needs and long-time gaps of the tech community with a new and diverse talent pipeline, made up of highly vetted and rigorously trained people from underrepresented communities.

ActivateWork addresses employers’ needs by providing tuition-free tech training in software engineering, security fundamentals, IT support, AWS, and full-stack Java. We then work with the tech community to place our candidates in jobs. After placement, we continue to provide coaching and upskilling possibilities. The benefit for employers? A larger talent pipeline, increased diversity of teams, and decreased attrition: ActivateWork new hires have a retention rate 36% higher than the industry average.

I will be helping lead the charge to find employers and place our highly qualified candidates in careers that provide opportunity and economic equity.

We are creating an equitable, flexible talent ecosystem for the Denver tech community. And we cannot wait to show you how you can hire for good.


Rae Turkus is the Director of Employer Experience at ActivateWork, tasked with supporting the overall goal to create an inclusive talent ecosystem for tech in Colorado and beyond.

About ActivateWork
ActivateWork is a nonprofit recruiting, training and coaching firm that connects employers to a diverse pool of exceptional talent. Traditional hiring processes leave valuable talent out. We help employers solve talent gaps by finding promising candidates in underrepresented communities and preparing them to excel in new careers. For more information, visit www.activatework.org.