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After the 2020 mass exodus of tech workers leaving pricey California toward states with a lower cost of living, a new state is draining brains. This time, it’s not the rent that’s pushing them out. That sound you’re hearing is the potential vacuum as Texas tech workers rush to abandon Texas-based companies after the state’s controversial abortion ban.

Throughout the month of November, ten California-based public relations agencies will host a virtual job fair for professionals hoping to relocate from Texas. San Francisco-based public relations agency Bospar hopes to lure workers back to California after the pandemic pushed many toward greener, cheaper pastures.

As the tech industry deals with the massive dearth of data management and engineer talent, leaders are realizing that staff are driven by more than simply financial motivation. Quality of life, personal autonomy, climate, and health and wellness are top reasons individuals look to change employers and geographical locations alike. Additionally, younger workers are far less likely to stay put and tolerate less-than-desirable working conditions. As tech tackles its own diversity and inclusivity issues, championing a subject like reproductive rights signals a definite tide shift toward those goals.

Texas tech workers wooed out of state

“Texas has shown a tragic disregard for the health, safety, and constitutional rights of women,” said Carol Carrubba, principal of Highwire PR, one of the participating agencies in the virtual job fair. “We are determined to offer new options and a safe haven for those professionals who want to leave the state.” Carrubba’s company cites clients such as Akamai, IBM, Udemy, AppDynamics, Twilio, Oath, Cloudera, and a host of other venerable Silicon Valley leaders.

While anyone who has tried to park in San Francisco may view the incoming throng of out-of-state transplants with dismay, in truth, the Bay Area has been losing residents at an alarming pace. In 2020, California saw its first population decline in the entire history of its statehood, primarily decreasing in the coastal areas where the cost of living and population density is highest. San Francisco alone was losing residents to the tune of about 7,000 households a month during the height of the pandemic. The decline in Silicon Valley has slowed considerably as workers are coaxed out of their home offices, most had relocated out of the Bay Area while not leaving the actual state of California.

Taking back tech brains

While the pandemic isn’t the only reason that workers chose to leave the Golden State, some find that their own feelings about human and health rights are more valuable than generous housing availability. The Texas abortion ban is galvanizing Bay Area professionals to make a call for action.

“As an openly gay PR agency CEO with a majority of female staff, I feel an obligation to join my fellow agency owners in this effort to protect the hard-earned rights for women to control their own bodies,” said Fred Bateman, founder, and CEO of Bateman Agency, whose list of past and current clients includes Atlassian, Unbounce, Heroku, Snowflake, Sumologic and more. Bospar, the organizing agency, services primarily tech companies such as PayPal, Polycomm, Logitech, Unisys, Cambium Networks, and Yellowbricks.

The ten agencies serving tech companies joining forces around this political conversation include Bateman Agency, BOCA, Bospar, EvolveMKD, Highwire PR, Karbo Communications, Manhattan Strategies, Redwood Climate Communications, Strange Brew Strategies, and Trier and Company. “The Republican-controlled government in Texas will not be satisfied with just restricting access to reproductive services. This is just the first battle, which must be stopped, or the war on progress will be lost,” Bateman said.

Is this a moment or a movement?

A 2021 report from Capgemini revealed that there is a stark disparity between how executives and staff view the inclusion and diversity support of their organizations. While an overwhelming majority (85%) of executives believed their organizations offered equitable opportunities to every employee, only 18% of employees agreed. This comes on the heels of compelling research that female tech workers, particularly women of color, frequently feel invisible at work, and only 16% of women feel well represented on their tech teams.

The virtual job fair targeting Texas tech workers will run for one month, beginning Thursday, November 4.

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