Despite diversity being a much-discussed topic in the tech industry, representation for Black tech workers is still not where it needs to be, with African Americans holding just 7% of positions in the tech industry, and only 2% of tech executive roles, according to data from the Diversity in High Tech report published by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Moreover, Black IT pros — even those in leadership positions — still encounter unique challenges both in the workplace and in their career paths.
While the onus of change rests in large part on employers to alter their approaches to hiring and inclusivity in the workplace, the following 10 professional organizations are dedicated to advancing the careers of Black IT pros and increasing Black representation in the tech industry through training, networking resources and more.
Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA)
The Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA) is an international organization founded in 1975 as a network for underrepresented minorities working in the IT and computer science fields. The BDPA organizes technology conferences, local chapter events, continuing education and professional development events, academic scholarships, and mentoring and career opportunities for Black IT professionals. The BPDA also organizes community outreach programs for students including the Student Information Technology Education and Scholarship (SITES), National High School Computer Competitions (HSCC) and Youth Technology Camp (YTC) to increase representation in tech and create pipelines for future talent.
Black & Brown Founders
Black & Brown Founders is a professional organization for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs to network and learn about startup bootstrapping through online resources and events. The goal is to “give entrepreneurs knowledge, tools and cutting-edge tactics to launch startups without relying on venture capital.” Black & Brown Founders was developed after its founder Aniyia Williams saw firsthand the barriers people of color face when trying to get venture funding. She wanted to provide a way for founders of color with limited resources to get the training and resources to support their business idea, helping them grow their businesses without outside funding.
Blacks United in Leading Technology (BUILT)
Blacks United in Leading Technology (BUILT) is a nonprofit professional organization that offers community-focused activities, events and programs that focus on Black technology workers and highlight the importance of diversity, equity and equality in the tech industry. BUILT believes in “equity for Blacks in tech, in where they work, with those who buy our products, and investors who support our ventures,” according to the website. You can find BUILT chapters all across the United States, with locations in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Miami, North Texas, San Diego and more.
Members enjoy free and discounted technical training, including discounted rates for Lean Six Sigma certifications, along with free training for the cybersecurity PenTest+ certification. Members also get access to a large network of other entrepreneurs, founders, senior business leaders and other professionals dedicated to increasing representation of Black people in technology. Membership also includes professional development courses, mentorship opportunities, events, speaking opportunities, engagement with corporate sponsors, private events and optional website listings for business owners.
Blacks in Technology
Black workers in the tech industry typically find they are the only black person in the room — and that underrepresentation bleeds into career growth, pay equity, and mentorship opportunities. Nonprofit organization Blacks in Technology (BIT) aims to “stomp the divide” between Black workers to help “level the playing field through training, education, networking and mentorship with the support of allies, partners and sponsors.”
BIT has chapters across the US and internationally where members can attend events, trainings, and tech summits designed to uplift and connect the Black tech community. Members also get access to career support, networking, and tech resources. Membership is open to any Black woman or man who works in tech, making it the largest community of BIPOC tech workers in the world.
CODE2040 is a nonprofit organization dedicated to “activating, connecting and mobilizing the largest racial equity community in tech to dismantle the structural barriers that prevent the full participation and leadership of Black and Latinx technologists in the innovation economy.” The organization achieves this through events, training, early-career programs and knowledge sharing to ensure Black and Latinx technologists have the tools and network to enable racial equity throughout the tech industry.
DigitalUndivided (DID) is an organization focused on fostering more inclusivity in entrepreneurship by empowering Black and Latinx women entrepreneurs. It started as a conference for Black women founders in tech, which led to it growing into a Focus Fellow (FF) program and eventually it turned into an eight-week virtual accelerator program. And they didn’t stop there — DID later took on research projects that uncovered how Black and Latinx female founders receive less than 0.2% of all venture funding. After the report was released, the number of startups led by Black women tripled and funding increased 500%. DID has since continued to expand its offering of programs, initiatives and research to uplift Black and Latinx female founders in tech.
Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF)
The Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) offers career-advancing programs for Black IT professionals. The ITSMF was formed in 1996 by a group of technology executives who wanted to improve diversity in the technology industry all the way to the executive level. The mission of the ITSMF is to “increase the representation of black professionals at senior levels in technology, to impact organizational innovation and growth.” The ITSMF offers programs for executives, managers, and an “emerge” program specifically designed for increasing the representation of women of color at senior levels in the technology industry.
National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME)
The National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) is a professional organization for underrepresented minorities working in engineering and STEM roles. NACME provides college scholarships for underrepresented minorities who are interested in pursuing a degree in STEM. The goal is to increase representation of BIPOC in tech by providing scholarships, resources and opportunities for “high-achieving, underrepresented minority college students pursuing careers in engineering and computer science.” NACME’s focus is on helping students become qualified candidates for in-demand tech jobs.
National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)
The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) is a student-governed organization with 500 chapters and nearly 16,000 active members in the U.S. and abroad. The nonprofit organization comprises collegiate and pre-collegiate students and technical professionals in engineering and technology. The mission of the NSBE is “to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community,” according to the website.
Opportunity Hub (OHUB)
The Opportunity Hub (OHUB) was founded as a “technology, startup and venture ecosystem building platform” to ensure that everyone has “equitable access to the future of work” and to create pathways to “multigenerational wealth creation with no reliance on pre-existing multigenerational wealth.” The organization is dedicated to providing skills development, early tech exposure, job placement, entrepreneurship support program, new job creation, and alternative capital formation for college students, young professionals, founders and investors nationwide.
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