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Efforts towards racial equality: thoughts from SXSW TEXAS 2022

Around 56% of Brazilians identify as Black—the largest population of African descent outside of Africa—yet Black people make up just 18% of congress, 4.7% of executives in Brazil’s 500 largest companies.

In America In 2019, there were 46.8 million people who self-identified as Black.

We all talk about a shortage of diverse talent in Tech. Here are some thoughts, directly from SXSW TEXAS, 2022.

To drive change, first we must give the example. At Real Talk @SWSX today, I heard the ultimate:

“See it, to believe it, so you can be it”

Impostor syndrome remains very real after being hired, particularly if you are black.

We must create interview processes that supports candidates and gives them an opportunity, simulating what it would be like to work at the company, not a stressful oppressive skills test.

Anthony, Software Engineer, from Compton a tough neighborhood, is constantly asked “What is it like to be a black man at Google?” a reminder of how even after being hired, black people are reminded that they are one in thousands who have been left out.

But the issues start very early: black people often miss campus recruiters cause they need to work extra jobs.

On a positive note, for those achieving great success and empowering others, there are ways to act and behave that help changing old perceptions:

“I come to a meeting, as one but I represent a thousand, as the first black people in the room, everything I say will impact judgment of other folks.” Rafael Williams, Campus Recruiter at RedFin.

But the challenges are far from over.

“Lack of trust makes us having to prove ourselves 10x over constantly.”

For things to change, us whites must recognize ideas, give voice, speak up on behalf of black people, become an ally. 

Black people are often tokenized as the example in companies: “Look we have a black person” and they are asked to take part in company events. Well if you do that, then pay them extra for it! Acknowledge their extra effort, offer them extra support and help to grow. Dont use their colour for your marketing, for free.

The talent pipeline issue is a short-sighted issue, look at the NFL, their programs for youth means in 10 years they will have a pipeline, start now. To build a pipeline create events, show clients the potential of hiring black people and how diversity its good for business.

Don’t externalize programs for attracting black talent, provide early access to learning and training.

Most importantly give existing black employees a real opportunity to become leaders.

Thank you to the truly inspiring speakers today, who are moving the needle and driving much-needed change.

Article By: Bernardo Carvalho Wertheim, CEO – The Bridge Social

This article is based on the panel “Get Real: Black and White Leaders Talk Tech Talent at SXSW 2022.”

Speakers:

  • Roz Francuz-Harris, People Partner & Talent Acquisition Leader @Zillow
  • Portia Kibble Smith, Executive Recruiter and Diversity and Inclusion Lead at Karat
  • Jeffrey Spector, Co-Founder and President at Karat
  • Rafael Williams, University Recruiting Leader | Employer Branding | Diversity & Inclusion, RedFin

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Bernardo Wertheim
Bernardo Wertheim

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