Meet Demma Rosa Rodriguez, Head of Equity Engineering at Google

Jamie Rosenstein, Preeti Upadhyaya, and Thomas White | Staff Writers

Demma Rosa Rodriguez heads up Equity Engineering at Google, where she leads an engineering initiative to evaluate how systems can support equitable HR processes and build the best products for a diverse workforce and world. She was recently awarded the first Hank Williams Trailblazer Award from All Star Code, a nonprofit computer science education organization focused on motivated Black and Latino young men. We sat down with Demma Rosa to learn more about what motivates her and how she envisions creating a more equitable and diverse global workforce. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Why did you choose to work at Google?

I believe that Google has the ability to empower communities all over the world with free and accessible information. Information is power, so by supporting the search engine, we empower communities and individuals with the knowledge they need to learn, develop, and grow.

Google’s products also help communities all over the world open businesses, share their ideas with a global audience, and build equity for future generations.

Congratulations on receiving All Star Code’s Hank Williams Trailblazer Award! Can you tell us more about your work with All Star Code?

Thank you! I’m honored to be the first recipient of this award. Hank Williams recognized the need for a strong community of diverse tech innovators, and he filled that need with Platform, a nonprofit to increase minority involvement in the technology sector.

As an advocate for the Afro-Diasporan and Latinx community, I strongly believe that leaders in technology, specifically computer science careers, have a duty to develop and mentor the next generation of technologists from underrepresented communities.

At Google, I’m the global co-lead of the Black Googler Network, an organization of Afro-Diasporan Googlers dedicated to three primary pillars that guide the work we do: Cultivate Black Leaders, Empower Communities, and Transform Technology. These three pillars support our goal of transforming the future of technology.

Partnering with All Star Code helps us to empower communities by organizing volunteer events, supporting K-12 education efforts, and partnering with community-based organizations. By sharing opportunities in the tech sector, developing proficiency in building technology, and ultimately, influencing the products, services, and face of the industry, we are able to work toward our Transform Technology goal. Through our work with All Star Code, we’re ensuring that our community does not get left behind as technology advances, and that our unique perspectives are represented in the future of technology and the world at large.

How does your work and Google’s mission align with that of All Star Code?

I work to ensure that Google’s products, specifically HR products, support our dedication to diversity. As Google’s Head of Equity Engineering, I lead a distributed effort across all enterprise products that support Google’s workforce, including hiring and performance evaluation systems.

In general, Google is highly committed to data-driven solutions and solving big problems, and the company has partnered with All Star Code for the last several years. All Star Code is also tackling a very difficult and challenging problem and both organizations want to support engineering education and make it accessible to all students. All Star Code is also the only national organization that is dedicated to promoting computer science education for young men of color and building the next generation of tech entrepreneurs of color.

Google is focused on building the best products for users all over the world. By empowering communities with technology that can improve lives and promote equity, Google's core mission supports my work and my core values of respect and inclusion for all people.

What inspires you most about this work?

I am constantly inspired by the courageous people who identify difficult problems to solve and get to work. The lack of diversity in tech is a complex problem that jeopardizes the future of many communities that are left out and left behind. By centralizing our efforts on improving inclusion, fairness, and access to technology, we are making progress towards sustainable solutions that make technology more equitable.

Any advice for others interested in supporting Black and Latino men develop their careers?

Advocacy and mentorship are critical to supporting and advancing anyone’s career. For young people, having the support and respect of an adult who works in a field they are curious about can inspire and motivate them to work harder and stay curious.

Remember that you have the power to positively impact someone's life. You can start with just one person. Join a volunteer organization or teach a class at a community center. It’s also important to make authentic connections to community- based organizations in order to teach and mentor in a respectful way. Connect, bridge, and uplift the goals and aspirations of others!

What motivates you?

I have a child. Being a parent motivates me to do more than just promote positive values. I want to actively engage in the work to make tech communities more respectful and accessible to current and future users.

Photo credit: Vincent Hunter Photography

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