Diversity efforts expanding in Minnesota technology

By Neal St. Anthony, Star Tribune

Ja’keh Clark, a software developer at Best Buy, is a key contributor to Minnesota’s emerging diversity efforts in technology.

Clark, 31, has an academic background in art and design and worked with juvenile offenders after college. Clark also liked technology and tinkering with software.

Today, Clark is a two-year digital engineer, integrating Internet of Things applications into Best Buy’s website and on mobile devices. A favorite software application Clark developed allows customers to check the website to determine how busy a store is before deciding to visit.

“I’m in the right place,” Clark said. “I really enjoy the work. And we’re involved in the People of Color Career Fair and Blacks in Technology. That’s important.

Read the full article

Blacks In Technology Collaborates with AWS on Year End Training Blitz

One of the largest communities of Black technologists, with over 20 chapters globally, encourages members to up-skill and differentiate with AWS Certifications.

Cleves, Ohio, December 1, 2020 – The Blacks In Technology (BIT) Foundation announced a collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide access to AWS Training & Certification digital courses and resources to support its members in achieving their AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification. The BIT AWS Certification Challenge is open to BIT members starting today through December 14, 2020. BIT has set a goal for 50 members to complete foundational cloud training and to earn AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner as a way to open up opportunities working in the cloud.  

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner validates cloud fluency and foundational AWS knowledge with an industry-recognized credential from AWS. AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner can also help individuals advance in their careers. Certified IT professionals report better job effectiveness, according to the Global Knowledge, 2019 IT Skills and Salary Report, 52% say their expertise is more sought after within their organization, 45% have implemented efficiencies, and 43% report faster job performance. Additionally, organizations are looking for AWS Certified talent to help bolster their business. According to a study published by the Enterprise Strategy Group, 97% of organizations that employ AWS Certified staff say doing so puts their company in a better competitive position over the next three to five years.1

“We are excited to have AWS’s support in the BIT AWS Certification Challenge. The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification is a great on-ramp to build skills and expertise in AWS for a wide variety of technical and non-technical roles. There is no better place for our Blacks in Technology members to start than with AWS,” says Dennis Schultz, Executive Director of the Blacks In Technology Foundation. “We believe our members will gain meaningful technical skills and expertise that not only grows their confidence, but also increases their career possibilities.”  

“We are pleased to work with the Blacks In Technology Foundation to help equip the diverse builders of today and tomorrow with the knowledge they need to realize their cloud goals,” said Maureen Lonergan, director, AWS Training and Certification, Amazon Web Services, Inc. “AWS Certification builds your credibility and confidence, and gives organizations a competitive edge. By investing in its members’ cloud skills and knowledge, BIT is propelling its members and the industry forward.”

AWS and BIT will host a launch event and virtual welcome session on November 30, 2020 for BIT members with guest panelists from the Amazon Black Employee Network (BEN). Additionally, AWS will provide training sessions, a discussion forum, and support resources throughout the BIT AWS Certification Challenge to aid in a successful completion. For more information, visit the Challenge landing page.

About the Blacks In Technology Foundation

The Blacks In Technology Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and the largest global community of Black technologists with a combined membership and social media reach of over 50,000. Membership in Blacks In Technology is free. The Blacks In Technology (BIT) Foundation’s goal and mission is to “stomp the divide” between Black workers and the rest of the tech industry and to fundamentally influence and effect change. BIT intends to level the playing field through training, education, networking, and mentorship with the support of allies, partners, sponsors, and members.

Website: foundation.blacksintechnology.net
Email: bit-foundation@blacksintechnology.net

Contact:
Dennis Schultz, Executive Director
Blacks In Technology Foundation
dschultz_ny@blacksintechnology.net
908.938.1319

1:  ESG Research Insights Paper Commissioned by AWS, Understanding the Value of AWS Certifications to Organizations, October 2020

Make an impact: 10 tech-focused D&I nonprofits worth donating to

Looking to make a difference? Consider donating to or partnering with any of these 10 nonprofit organizations dedicated to supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in IT.

By 
Senior Writer, CIO

BIPOC workers, women and LGBTQ+ employees still face an uphill battle in the tech industry when it comes to representation, pay equity and workplace discrimination.

According to data from CompTIA, men hold 80% of executive roles in the tech sector compared to 20% for women, and the industry employs a higher share of white workers (69%) when compared with other industries (63%). African Americans account for only 7% of tech workers, while Hispanics represent 8%, and women represent 36%. And as tech jobs become some of the highest-paying and most reliable jobs in the economy, it’s increasingly important to push for diversity and inclusion to prevent people from being shut out from these lucrative, high-growth careers.

Read full article here

5 Questions with Dennis Schultz, Executive Director of the Blacks In Technology Foundation

I am the Executive Director of the Blacks In Technology Foundation and the New York City Chapter President for the organization that boasts the largest network for Black technology professionals. I have over 20 years of experience in the tech industry serving in a variety of roles including, enterprise sales, business development, customer success, and consulting. My experience includes stints at some of tech’s most respected brands; Rackspace Technology, Dropbox, Gartner, Samsung, Dell, Lenovo, VERITAS Software, and APC to name a few. As an entrepreneur, I have participated in numerous technology startup enterprises as either a principal member or formal advisor. Additionally, I have Chief Marketing Officer experience as interim CMO at InteractiveTel and I am currently the Founder and CEO of PaparazzMe, a mobile app for on demand photography and videography.

01. What is the mission of your organization?

The Blacks In Technology Foundation is the largest community of Black people in the technology industry. Through community-focused activities, events, and outreach, the Blacks In Technology (BIT) Foundation is “Stomping the Divide” by establishing a blueprint of world-class technical excellence and innovation through providing resources, guidance, networking, and opportunities for members to share their expertise and advance their careers.

Read full article here

Spotlight on STEM Diversity and Inclusion Work: Blacks In Technology

The benefits of diversity in the workplace are well-studied, and include crucial aspects like better innovation, better decision-making, lower turnover, and faster problem-solving. Companies that don’t prioritize equal representation are at a distinct disadvantage. Encouraging greater diversity is not only the right thing to do; diversity in any group makes it stronger and more resilient.

 

 

Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields are chronically lacking in diversity. An article in Wired outlines the facts and figures from a U.S. perspective, and a column in Scientific American explains why diversity in science matters. Suffice it to say, ensuring a multitude of perspectives is vital to the future of STEM fields.

Individuals and organizations are working for equal representation in STEM all over the world, and we wanted to highlight a few of them paving the way for better inclusion. This series of interviews features individuals and organizations working to bring underrepresented groups into STEM fields, and to build and sustain supportive environments that don’t push people out.

 

Blacks in Technology (BIT) is known as the largest community and media organization focusing on Black people in the technology industry, offering resources and guidance. Its mission is to increase the representation and participation of Black people in tech. We asked the chairman and founder of BIT, Greg Greenlee, a few questions via email to learn more about BIT and the work it does.


International Society of Automation: Why did you start Blacks in Technology?


Read the full article here.

Reseller News: Opportunity for partners as customers still can’t find enough open source skills

Pandemic has accelerated demand for IT professionals with open source skills, and organisations are searching far and wide or retraining staff to fill the gap – opening the door for external partner expertise.

By Scott Carey
UK Group Editor, InfoWorld

After a rough year for everyone, IT hiring at least appears to be trending up again for the first time in months.

Despite a backdrop of uncertainty however, one thing is for sure: open source skills still come at a premium in the current market, according to the latest Open Source Jobs report from the Linux Foundation and EdX.

The global report, published this week, showed that 56 per cent of hiring managers say they plan on hiring open source professionals over the next six months, despite the fact that 93 per cent are still having difficulty finding open source talent, up from 87 per cent two years ago.

“Despite an overall economic downturn, having demonstrated skills in open source technologies remains highly desirable for employers seeking IT professionals for potential hire even during these times of uncertainty,” the report notes.

Read the full article here.

InfoWorld: Companies still can’t find enough open source skills

The pandemic has accelerated demand for IT professionals with open source skills, and organizations are searching far and wide or retraining staff to fill the gap.

By Scott Carey
UK Group Editor, InfoWorld

After a rough year for everyone, IT hiring at least appears to be trending up again for the first time in months, with openings starting to rebound in August and a further 12,200 IT roles being added in September, according to the most recent survey of IT executives by management consultancy Janco Associates in the US.

Despite a backdrop of uncertainty, one thing is for sure: Open source skills still come at a premium in the current market, according to the latest Open Source Jobs report from the Linux Foundation and EdX.

The global report, published this week, showed that 56% of hiring managers say they plan on hiring open source professionals over the next six months, despite the fact that 93% are still having difficulty finding open source talent, up from 87% two years ago.

“Despite an overall economic downturn, having demonstrated skills in open source technologies remains highly desirable for employers seeking IT professionals for potential hire even during these times of uncertainty,” the report notes.

Read the full article here.

U.S. State Department Foreign Affairs IT Fellowship Seeks Diverse Candidates for 2021 Cohort

The U.S. Department of State and The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars (TWC) announce a Call for Applications for the Foreign Affairs Information Technology (FAIT) Fellowship – an exciting opportunity for college students who aspire to a technology career that makes a difference in the world. The Washington Center has collaborated with the Blacks In Technology Foundation to promote the FAIT Fellowship opportunity to their members.

Applications for the 2021 FAIT Fellowship program will be accepted through February 1, 2021, from college students starting their junior year in fall 2021 or a two-year master’s program in fall 2021, in an IT-related degree program at a U.S.-based accredited institution.

Funded by the U.S. State Department and administered by TWC, this two-year Fellowship provides a path to an exciting career in the U.S. Foreign Service through academic funding, internships, professional development, and ultimately, an appointment as a Foreign Service Information Management Specialist. Funding includes up to $37,500 each year for the junior and senior years of undergraduate study or a two-year master’s program.  Fellows also receive stipends, travel expenses and housing for two summer internship experiences – one in Washington, D.C. and at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.

This will be the fifth year that TWC is partnering with the State Department to attract students to apply for this program, especially individuals in historically underrepresented minority groups, including racial, ethnic, and gender minorities, and those with financial need.

“The FAIT Fellowship program has provided highly talented, exceptional students with the opportunity of a lifetime – helping them to pursue their dreams and make a difference,” said Chris Norton, TWC president. “We’re excited to be an integral part of making that happen, and we’re honored to continue our partnership with the U.S. Department of State.”

“Blacks In Technology is excited to champion the FAIT program,” says Dennis Schultz, Executive Director of the Blacks In Technology Foundation. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, and a great way to serve the country.”

To date, 30 students have participated in the program. The original cohort from 2017 successfully completed in 2019 and began their careers in the Foreign Service.

Learn more about eligibility requirements and how to apply at FAITFellowship.org.

###

About The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars

The Washington Center is the largest and most established student internship program in Washington, D.C. Since our founding, we’ve helped more than 60,000 young people translate their college majors into career paths. We use our scale and expertise to customize each student’s experience to be truly transformative.

Contact: Carmenchu Mendiola
Menchu.mendiola@twc.edu

About The Blacks In Technology Foundation
Blacks In Technology is the largest global community of Black technologists with a combined membership and social media reach of over 50,000. The Blacks In Technology (BIT) Foundation’s goal and mission is to “stomp the divide” between Black tech workers and to fundamentally influence and effect change on the tech industry.

Contact: Dennis Schultz
dschultz_ny@blacksintechnology.net

US State Dept Call for Applications: Foreign Affairs IT Fellowship

US State Dept Call for Applications: Foreign Affairs IT Fellowship

It’s a proven fact that a diverse workforce brings innovation and creativity to the workplace, encourages fresh perspectives that inspire new ideas, and sparks positive change. The Department of State recognizes the value of diversity and has set as one of its core goals a more diverse diplomatic corps, one that is able to represent the best of the United States to nations around the world.

With a growing need for talented and creative technology staff, and the fast-changing field of information technology, the State Department sees the importance of diversifying this area of the workforce.

To assist in this effort, in 2016 the State Department launched the Foreign Affairs Information Technology Fellowship, a program that aims to attract underrepresented populations in the technology field interested in Foreign Service careers.

Based on the fundamental principle that diversity is a strength in our diplomatic efforts, the program values varied backgrounds, including ethnic, gender, racial, social, and geographic diversity.  Women and those with financial need are encouraged to apply.

The program provides up to $37,500 annually for two years of either bachelor’s or master’s degree tuition, books, and other academic expenses.  Additionally, travel and lodging expenses are covered for finalists who are selected to come to Washington, D.C. for the in-person interviews.

The State Department also provides stipends, housing, and travel for two summer internship experiences – one in Washington, D.C. at the Department of State, and one at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.  After completing the two-year program and meeting Department of State requirements, fellows enter the Foreign Service as Information Management Specialists and have the unique opportunity to apply their technology skills to support U.S. diplomacy abroad, experience different cultures, and promote positive change in the world.

Applications for the 2021 cohort are being accepted September 8, 2020 – February 1, 2021.  You can view the eligibility requirements on the website here.

The Fellows from the first three cohorts (from 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020) all agree that this program is an “opportunity of a lifetime.”

Prepare Now to Apply

The application deadline is February 1, 2021, but you should start preparing your application documents early to submit the most competitive application possible for this prestigious fellowship program. Learn what application documents are needed and get helpful tips in articles in the Diplomatic Roots blog on the FAIT Fellowship website. 

Virtual Information Session

Wednesday, November 18 2020 at 5:00 pm (EST)
Register: https://app.livestorm.co/the-washington-center/foreign-affairs-it-fellowship-bit-foundation-virtual-info-session

Contact Us with Questions

We’d love to talk with you and answer your questions. Send us an email at faitfellowship@twc.edu and let us know your contact info and the best time to reach you.

Learn more at FAITFellowship.org

 

Recruiting Black tech workers: Will remote work help make Seattle more attractive?

 

By , KUOW/NPR
Listen to the 5 minute audio here. 

Seattle has historically had difficulty recruiting and retaining Black tech workers. That’s led to a problem: Compared to the general population, Black tech workers are underrepresented.

But amid the pandemic, local tech companies are tapping into an opportunity to diversify their workforces — remotely.

Herman Haggerty is a Black tech worker from Texas. He moved to Seattle in 2017, to work for Amazon.

Three years later, he left. He said he was tired of not being recognized for his achievements, and was tired of people not knowing how to relate to him.

“I’m not sure if that’s just the quirkiness of engineers, because you know, I’ve been around a lot of engineers and they’re inherently quiet,” Haggerty said. “But you know when they don’t really know how to connect with you.”

Haggerty said that because people didn’t know how to talk to him, they’d leave him out of technical conversations. Instead, they’d attempt to steer the conversation toward something they assumed he’d like: Hip-hop music for example.

This, he said, led to him missing promotion opportunities.

“It always feels like an uphill battle just because of that core competency — of not being able to communicate with each other,” he said. “It seemed like they were always kind of giving me the runaround.”

Haggerty ultimately concluded that this wasn’t an Amazon-specific problem — it’s a Pacific Northwest problem.

In the South, he said, racism is more overt. “In Seattle, it’s more passive. They may not even know that they’re being racist.”

So he moved to Austin, where he said he’s much happier.

“It’s very diverse, and … I mean, the first thing I did when I got off the plane here — a random person said ‘hi’ to me. You forget that people actually talk to each other, in other places.”

caption: Herman Haggerty left Seattle out of frustration. He now lives in Austin Texas, where he works for a tech startup.
Herman Haggerty left Seattle out of frustration. He now lives in Austin Texas, where he works for a tech startup.
CREDIT: HERMAN HAGGERTY

Seattle and Portland are two of the whitest cities in the country. That, combined with the so-called Seattle freeze, and a sense that racism is passive in the Pacific Northwest, has discouraged many Black people in general — and Black tech workers specifically — from staying in the region for very long, if they’re even willing to relocate here at all.

A study of Portland found that 97% of Black workers experienced discrimination at work, and only 1% felt welcomed by their communities outside of work. This leaves tech companies that want to diversify their workforces in a difficult position.

Michael Schutzler of the Washington Technology Industry Association said local tech companies go on recruiting missions to cities with bigger Black populations. “There is a giant pool of talent in Atlanta,” for instance, he said. But a lot of people don’t want to leave their communities.

It takes more than just reaching out on the part of employers to solve the problem of underrepresentation, and the issue extends beyond the workplace.

For example, Mark Nyon in New York, said “I have family, friends and community here, people who supported me and helped keep me sane and navigate the challenges of being Black in the tech industry. It would be difficult for me to find that sustenance if I moved out to Seattle.”

Which is where the pandemic – and working remotely comes in.

We used to have this assumption that you had to physically commute into an office every day. But Michael Schutzler said remote work changes everything.

Tech companies can hire workers from places such as Atlanta, D.C., New York, and Houston, and let them work remotely from those cities.

“That creates a completely new dynamic for who it is they’re recruiting,” Schutzler said. “And suddenly, you are seeing a larger number of women and people of color in the entering classes than you did before.”

Multiple Black tech workers told KUOW they’ve been receiving more and more messages on LinkedIn about remote work, lately. But the extent of the trend and what it means for Seattle in the long run remain unclear.

If workers don’t have to relocate to Seattle, does that mean Seattle could actually become less diverse than it is now?

Not if Abas Hersi can help it. He’s an 18-year-old Black computer science student who just started Seattle’s chapter of an organization called Blacks in Technology. He lives in Tukwila, a city that’s 17% Black as compared to Seattle’s 7%.

“It’s a lot cheaper to live here than it is to live in Seattle,” Hersi said. “But realistically I’m hoping to get employed in Seattle. And so, I think that would be a great combination of me not abandoning my roots and still finding employment in the tech industry in Seattle.”

This is one strategy recommended by Partners in Diversity, the organization that produced that study about Portland:

They recommend that communities educate, empower and promote the Black workforce already living nearby. That way, hiring Black tech workers doesn’t have to mean recruiting them away from their friends and families.

Hersi believes this strategy could address the root of the problem. “This would help put the Black community at large in a better position financially in order to cope with the rising costs of living, so that it can mitigate the effects of gentrification,” he said.