“Blacks in Technology” Looks to ‘Stomp the Divide’ in Tech

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Blacks in TechJust recently, tech companies have been releasing their company profiles with regard to hiring practices and it’s no surprise that the numbers are exceedingly low when it comes to employee diversity. Company CEOs at tech giants such as Apple and Google issue nice apologies after the numbers have been read, but the fact remains, that the hallowed halls of Silicon Valley’s biggest and most innovative companies aren’t playing fair.

“Blacks in Technology” is looking to change this and is doing its part through its organization, which was launched five years ago.    

According to its website, “Blacks in Technology” is ‘Stomping the Divide’ by establishing a blueprint of world class technical excellence and innovation by providing resources, guidance and issuing a challenge to our members to surpass the high mark and establish new standards of global innovation.

Here, Jennifer Epperson, UX Designer for “Blacks in Technology” (BIT), tells TNJ.com what BIT is up to these days.

TNJ.com: Tell me a bit about “Blacks in Technology.” How and when was the organization launched?

Jennifer Epperson: “Blacks in Technology” is an organization that seeks to not just bridge the gap but stomp the divide that exists for blacks and the technology industry. Greg Greenlee, the founder of Blacks In Technology, identified the need to increase diversity in technology by increasing visibility of blacks in technology. Five years later, we’re still going strong!

TNJ.com: What’s the biggest issue right now in the tech industry as it relates to African Americans?
J.E.: From my perspective, I think exclusivity continues to be a challenge for African Americans in the tech industry. Beyond the well- documented racial barriers, African Americans must also overcome cultural and socioeconomic barriers to tech as well, specifically for those just learning about tech or wanting to create a career in tech.

TNJ.com: What are this year’s goals for BIT?
J.E.: We want 2015 to be BIT’s year of change, involvement, and visibility. We love our community so much, and want to continue to create experiences that are, ultimately, valuable.

TNJ.com: Tell me about your current plan to create meet ups and a social network for BIT.
J.E.: We’re at the beginning stages of creating some sort of in-person community initiative where techies can learn from and mingle with other techies. We’re also working on what a social network means for BIT. Given that I am a user experience designer, it was critical to approach these two by employing a few tried and true user research methods. Researching our community’s goals, aspirations, and challenges will make our meet ups and social networks specific to our community’s needs, not replicating someone else’s needs.

TNJ.com: How do you get people to join BIT?
J.E.: Currently, BIT members join because of the value of our content, whether that’s blogs written by industry professionals or podcasts that feature fresh perspectives and expert knowledge in tech. In the future, we want our community initiatives to drive membership as well.

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