A certain type of millennial understands the working transitions of technology. From bulky computers, dial-up internet and cell phones where the closest thing to an app was Snake, many millennials have gone through the joys and challenges of evolving technology. And while technology is more far reaching than it was in the ‘90s and early 2000s, there’s still an access issue for certain groups of people.
COVID-19 has brought many lessons about health care, equity and social justice to the forefront, but one of the most pressing is the gap that exists in the digital world. This is the pandemic of the digital divide. Whether it’s students using virtual learning platforms, patients navigating online doctor visits, or adults assimilating to remote working platforms, being forced to navigate this situation has shone a glaring light on the issues of proper access to technology and the utilization of required skills. This reality may be daunting, but it doesn’t exist without a solution.
HP is leveraging its technology, resources, expertise and partnerships to help actively close the digital divide. In 2021, HP announced a bold goal to accelerate digital equity for 150M people by 2030.
As part of this effort, HP is making sure Black Americans and other traditionally marginalized populations have a seat at the table to facilitate courageous conversations that drive meaningful, relevant innovation and have positive, lasting impact.
Recently, HP engaged in a roundtable discussion with Blavity CEO Morgan DeBaun, OhioHealth Senior Director of Health Partnerships Autumn Glover, National Digital Inclusion Alliance Executive Director Angela Siefer and Global Business Coalition for Education Executive Director Justin van Fleet. As a part of HP’s support of #DigitalInclusionWeek, these thought leaders came together to discuss access to resources, technology, quality content and digital literacy as a fundamental human right. The conversation also focused on how organizations and individuals can be intentional about creating scalable systems and solutions to help advance digital equity.
Below are some key tips on how any organization can also be a part of this intentional work.
Pursuing understanding means building trust within the community. Acknowledge the technical capacity and skills of individuals from historically underserved communities. Creating a baseline of this information will help any organization understand how to scale when developing resources and initiatives to meet individuals and communities where they are. Learning from the community allows solutions to have greater value and impact.As a point of action, HP collaborated with the Aspen Institute to launch the Digital Equity Accelerator (#AccelerateDigitalEquity) in February 2022, a multimillion-dollar initiative focused on global digital equity. The Accelerator will support participating nonprofits in scaling their innovative approaches to help meet the needs of underserved communities affected by the
digital divide. HP is backing the Accelerator with access to innovative technology as well as more than $100,000 in capacity-building grants for each participating organization.
Develop a Tech Equity Plan
There is a popular saying: “Proper planning prevents poor performance.” Addressing systemic issues like the tech divide has to be approached strategically. Creating an equity plan will provide insight and a potential framework on any solution that’s developed and how to implement them. One way to do this is by learning who’s doing the work in the community right now. Oftentimes, people and organizations are already putting in the effort, and leveraging that work will support whatever plan is developed. As an example, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance has a digital inclusion start-up manual that organizations can use as a starting point in developing a personalized digital equity plan.
Advocate for Access
Once a plan is established, use your influence to encourage others to act. Are there existing digital causes you can leverage your platform to support? What type of partnerships can you develop? How can legislation be advanced? What are the specific resources needed?
Rallying support around the cause of digital equity creates a communal effort. It helps alleviate the burden a single organization might face when tackling the issue. Establishing partnerships will help determine the margins that exist in the communities and build out resources to minimize it.
Support Digital Skill-Building
Skills around tech are not innate. They must be cultivated. Programs and initiatives that teach competency around technical skills — beyond the mastery of social media — can prepare individuals for an emerging job market. Investing in building digital skills is as integral to closing the digital divide as securing access to a device and broadband connection.
The HP Foundation has a free program — HP LIFE — that provides skills training programs for entrepreneurs, business owners and lifelong learners all over the world. With more than 30 courses available in eight languages, HP LIFE gives people all over the world the opportunity to build skills for the future by providing access to free, accessible IT and business skills training courses.
While there’s no universal solution for accelerating digital equity, there are intentional efforts that can be implemented to support the cause. From training and education to developing fluency with technology, everyone deserves access to tech.
To learn more about how you can advance the cause of digital equity and discover the many ways HP is involved, click here.