Where to find and recruit Black tech pros


The shock of the killing of George Floyd and other Black people in 2020 got Americans talking again about racial disparities — and companies talking again about improving diversity and inclusion. With Black History Month now winding down, there’s even more talk.

But there’s been talk off and on for decades, with little result.

By some measures, the proportion of Black people in engineering professions has actually dropped since the 1980s, despite all the awareness. More recently, while there have been improvements in Black representation in IT positions across industries, Black representation in the US tech sector as a whole is still just half of what the Black population overall is. Black representation remains even lower in the tech vendor community.

“Black people are being left behind systematically, especially when it comes to tech,” says Elizabeth Cotton, executive director of Black Tech Link, a San Diego-area nonprofit and meetup that helps Black candidates prepare for tech jobs through coaching and upskilling. Yet the US has a shortfall of about 700,000 tech jobs, notes Mike Jackson, CEO of Black Tech Talent, a jobs-referral site for Black technologists and consultancy to employers seeking to hire them.

A common complaint from employers is that there are not enough Black people to fill the jobs “pipeline” — if only there were more candidates, companies would actually walk the walk. “The pipeline issue is a myth,” says Matthew Davis, a communications consultant working with /dev/color, an advocacy and training group for Black engineers.

To help organizations actually find and hire Black IT pros, engineers, and developers, Computerworld reached out to several Black professional organizations to create a list of resources for hirers and, just as important, seek advice on how to effectively look for and attract Black hires. It turns out that many employers do it badly — if they do it at all. (That somewhat uncomfortable advice, by the way, applies to other underrepresented groups, too.)

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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