In celebration of Black technology leaders and innovators throughout the tech industry, we compiled a sampling of insights from interviews, live events, and striking articles over the past year. Please join us in celebrating the tremendous experiences, voices, and takeaways from today’s influential Black technology leaders.
“Great allies aren’t just great allies to your face. They’re your allies when you’re not there. Stepping up to say, ‘I’m uncomfortable with this conversation. Have you taken time to better educate yourself on the topics that impact that community or individuals?’ They advocate for those—who may not look like them. Great allies are courageous and speak up on behalf of marginalized groups. That’s true Allyship. It’s about changing the dialogue at that moment and encouraging a culture of inclusion and understanding through actions, and not just words.”
– Traci Wade, Senior Director, Diversity and Inclusion, Oracle in an interview for Oracle.com
“I love how we celebrate history. But who’s going to make the next mark on history? We could celebrate Madam CJ Walker and a current entrepreneur. We can do both. My participation in that is storytelling, and how do we celebrate the women who are doing it now.”
– Shelly Bell, Founder and CEO, Black Girl Ventures, in an interview with Forbes
“As a black, gay man who graduated top of his class, working out and proud as an engineer in one of the most prestigious companies in the tech industry, I’m essentially a unicorn. Stories like mine are often not told.”
– Tilden Chima, Cloud Solutions Engineer, Oracle for Oracle.com
“There’s been many times in the room where I’ve been the only woman, the only African American, and often lonely. Interestingly enough, what has been great about those moments is they’ve been empowering. I realize that I bring a unique perspective based on my own set of life experiences that no one else in the room has, and so it’s empowered me to find my voice.”
– Latasha Gillespie, Head Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Amazon Studios in a panel for CES 2021
“I just want fairness and equality, period, for everybody. I’m not looking for handouts. I’m not going to say that every Black person needs to be an executive. I would love to see more Blacks in technology; I would love to sort of be a catapult for them. I would love to help lead and show others that you can succeed in IT. And I’m going to do everything I can to be that example.”
– Van Richardson, Head of Global Technology/CIO, iManage in an interview with CIO
“HBCUs (historically Black colleges and universities) are the bedrock of advancement for African Americans, changing the trajectory of lives that continues to uplift generations that follow.”
– Johnny Hill, Vice President of Software Development, Oracle for Oracle.com
“It’s important to have as many voices as possible because inclusion really fuels innovation. If we want to see the best of the best in terms of technology, we need to make sure that voices that have been at the margins are really included.”
– Annie Jean-Baptiste, Head of Product Inclusion at Google LLC during a panel at CES 2021
“The content from incredible people of color has always been there. Even when reading and writing was illegal, it was there. Now I see partners who are making sure the content created is more equitable.”
– Deborah Riley Draper, Writer, Director, & Founder, Coffee Bluff Pictures in a panel for CES 2021
“As a community leader for our Alliance of Black Leaders for Excellence (ABLE), I use my lessons and experiences to encourage, uplift, and empower others just as my village did for me.”
– Raina Yancey, Principal Technical Support Engineer and ABLE Chapter Lead, Oracle for Oracle.com
“In Silicon Valley, people talk endlessly about ‘hustle’ and ‘hacking’ your way to success. The thing is that ‘hustle’ looks completely different depending on your circumstances. For most affluent White men, hustle might be pulling an all-nighter in front of a computer trying to get a project done. However, for some of the people I know, hustle is sacrificing sleep to work on their side project after they’ve spent 10 hours at their day job, come home and fed their kids and put them to bed, or checked on their elderly relatives, or before they start their night shift at their second job.”
– Arlan Hamilton, Founder & Managing Partner of Backstage Capital, in her new book “It’s About Damned Time: How to Turn Being Underestimated Into Your Greatest Advantage”
“It’s pretty exciting … to be able to build a company where kids can validate their passion and be recognized for their talents. We help develop the next generation of pros.”
– Delane Parnell, Founder and CEO, PlayVS for a profile with Forbes.com
“DEI doesn’t trickle up, it trickles down. The senior level needs to be intentional about what pipelines look like and the requirements we’re having. A lot of times people don’t have those entry points.”
– Jenn Hunter, Senior Director DEI, Portland Trailblazers in a panel for CES 2021
Quotes may be edited for readability.
This content was originally published at SmarterCX by Oracle. It has been adapted for the Customer Experience blog.
Liz Alton is a writer and content strategist specializing in B2B technology, digital marketing, and the customer experience. Her clients include creative agencies, Fortune 500 brands, and venture-backed startups.