Most Innovative Meetings 2019: #15 Code2040 Summit

The annual summit aims to further racial equity in the tech industry.

Panels focused on topics such as intersectional leadership, using technology to combat workplace discrimination, and designing a more inclusive industry for black and Latinx communities.
Panels focused on topics such as intersectional leadership, using technology to combat workplace discrimination, and designing a more inclusive industry for black and Latinx communities.
Photo: Courtesy of Code2040

By the year 2040, studies show that the United States population will become majority black or Latinx. Code2040 was born from that idea: The tech-industry nonprofit aims to further racial equity in the field not just through access to jobs, but through access to power.

Code2040 hosts a variety of online and offline events throughout the year, ranging from 10-person dinner parties to student-focused workshops to the Code2040 Summit, which brings together about 5,000 people for a day of learning, empowerment, and networking.

The fifth annual event, held in July at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, had a theme of “The Code for Justice.” A series of panels, keynotes, workshops, and sessions focused on topics such as cultivating intersectional leadership, using technology to combat workplace discrimination, and designing a more inclusive industry for black and Latinx communities.

This year, the conference made strategic shifts based on feedback from its audience of young professionals. Instead of lasting two days—a Friday and Saturday—the 2019 event was cut to just one weekend day so attendees didn’t have to skip work. Another benefit from the change, according to organizers: The shorter summit had a smaller environmental footprint and helped prevent attendee burnout. 

Code2040 C.E.O. Karla Monterroso said the changes worked. “We saw Summit attendance go up this year, and we had a really high level of engagement from conference participants. It was a really special event,” she said.

Another change was a new tiered ticketing structure: Based on the honor system, tickets were discounted to $50 to anyone whose company did not sponsor their attendance. There was also a scholarship program for free or discounted tickets to prevent financial hardship, made possible through sponsors.

“Our main priority with Summit is getting it to be as accessible as possible, while also not having attendance be something folks approach casually,” explained Monterroso. “Our sponsors have really given us the opportunity to make the engagement of our people the priority.”

Organizers also purposefully chose sponsors who were actively working toward racial equality. Partners included Knight Foundation and ActBlue.

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