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Free Silicon Slopes Summit tickets available for refugees, immigrants – KSL.com

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
SALT LAKE CITY — Cotopaxi is partnering with Silicon Slopes to offer a few hundred free Silicon Slopes Summit tickets to immigrants, refugees and new Americans.
The summit, taking place Thursday and Friday at the Vivint Arena, includes keynote speakers, networking opportunities and breakout sessions. Cotopaxi founder and CEO Davis Smith said he hopes removing the cost barrier of the tickets will open the summit to a more diverse crowd.
"We’re missing out on a huge opportunity if we’re not being more inclusive," Smith said. "I think we have to do a better job of making sure we literally welcome people to join our community that don’t look like us or that speak English as a second language."
The free tickets are available to entrepreneurs, students studying a tech-related major like computer engineering, and tech workers. Interested individuals need to fill out a Google survey that asks why they want to attend and what makes them a diverse addition to the Silicon Slopes community.
It’s no secret that Silicon Slopes, and Utah in general, struggles with diversity in the workplace. Smith said there are a couple of reasons for that. For one, refugees and immigrants face the difficulty of adapting to conducting business in a new country or in a second language. The network-based nature of the tech and business sectors can also make it difficult to break into.
"A lot of this community, it’s like you’ve rubbed shoulders with them over the years, you maybe went to school with them or you’ve just been in a community long enough that you’ve slowly built a network with each other. If you’re from one of these other communities — if you’re a refugee, if you’re an immigrant — you don’t have any of those connections, so you’re kind of starting from zero," Smith said.
He added that companies need be proactive and intentional about making their workplaces more diverse — a process, he said, that starts with hiring a diverse senior leadership team.
Doing that has not been as easy as simply opening up a position and waiting for the applicants to roll in, said Smith. In fact, over 90% of applicants for many of Cotopaxi’s "C-suite" roles have been men. It wasn’t until Smith reached out to about 100 different CEOs and brand leaders across the country for recommendations — about 50% of whom ended up being women — that his applicant pool became more diverse.
"When you actually go out and you put real work into finding out who the best candidates are, all of a sudden you can get a much more diverse pool of talent," he said.
Smith will hold a two-hour workshop for immigrants, refugees and new Americans who receive the free tickets. The time and date are still being determined, but the workshop will cover topics like building a business, accounting, marketing and finance.


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