Every year during the month of February in the United States (and now in Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom), Black History Month is observed. The annual celebration is dedicated to highlighting the achievements of those who identify as a part of the African Diaspora. While the month is a time for reflection, it is also a time to discuss moving towards a more equitable tech community. Here are five ways to engage with Black tech this month:
1. Support Black-Owned Tech Companies
You may not even realize that some of the apps you use every day were created by black founders. Calendly, a scheduling startup, was recently valued at $3B. Its founder Tope Awotona has grown the company to 30 million users in 5 years and relieved a pain point that has plagued business professionals for years. While the name LISNR may not ring a bell, their ultrasonic proximity platform is used in some of your favorite retail and mobile apps. Other Black-owned tech startups like Okra, that is connecting banks to apps and recently raised $1M, are adding to the African continent’s growing FinTech industry.
2. Go Open Source
At its core, open source technologies afford space for diverse voices and collaborations to build more sophisticated and innovative technologies. While there is still room for growth in diversity within the open source community, it provides an opportunity to expose a budding developer to technology they otherwise may not have had access to. Open source communities also provide a platform for developers to showcase their work on a global scale. This level of access and exposure is critical to ushering more Black people into tech. StrongKey is proudly an open source company and is also home to the first and only open source FIDO certified® FIDO2 server.
3. Lend Your Knowledge and Resources
Monetary support is not the only way to show up for Black tech. Taking the time to lend your expertise in the form of mentorship or resources, such as classes, can also be effective. Studies have found significant relationships between workplace mentoring and career attitudes, work attitudes, and some career outcomes. For instance, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and North Carolina Central University’s School of Business are partnering for a Black Student Pitch in April 2021. Events like these give Black founders an opportunity to get in front of investors and propel their startup.
4. Do Business with Businesses Who Are Walking the Walk
Summer 2020 brought about a sea of company statements around commitments to a more equitable and diverse workforce within tech. Dollars were pledged, and stances were taken. It is important to be a business that is a good corporate citizen, but also to do business with businesses that are good corporate citizens. StrongKey utilizes a popular marketing-focused CRM, HubSpot, a company that recently put its money where its mouth is. Recently, it announced a new Black Advisory Board to further fulfill its mission of building a company that reflects the diversity of its customers. The advisory board will provide guidance and feedback to improve HubSpot’s impact on the marketing and tech ecosystem.
5. Support HBCUs
While there are talented and brilliant Black-identifying students at colleges around the country, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) graduate a higher concentration of Black-identifying students. HBCUs are an impactful place for businesses to make a difference. Durham, N.C.-based Momentum, a coding bootcamp, recently launched Momentum at Morehouse: a partnership with Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga. to expand the amount of Balck developers in the workforce. HubSpot is also working with Howard University to launch a partnership.
About StrongKey: StrongKey is a privately held company based in Silicon Valley, California and Durham, North Carolina. As a leader in enterprise key management infrastructure, StrongKey is bringing new levels of data security to the market at a price point significantly lower than other solutions. Providing products and services for strong authentication, data confidentiality, and data integrity, StrongKey is focused on securing data for sectors that mandate the protection of sensitive data. StrongKey’s solutions are installed at customer sites around the world and are key components of mission-critical business operations.