Diversity in Entrepreneurship: Black Tech Talent
A common excuse for lack of staff diversity: “We couldn’t find the talent.” Diversity experts say it’s up to businesses to broaden their search, and that’s where Minneapolis entrepreneur Mike Jackson saw opportunity. Determined to grow the Black tech talent pool, Jackson launched Black Tech Talent in summer 2020 as a recruiting tool and training resource. The online platform spotlights job and education opportunities. In its first nine months, Black Tech Talent built a community of more than 2,000 individuals and 20 corporate clients including Target, HealthPartners, Code42, Software for Good, and Tech Dump.
Black Tech Talent offers a job board, recruiting services, and culturally specific online content, including a podcast called BTT Discussions, networking and educational events (virtual for now), courses, and bootcamps with partners. It’s a for-profit company, which makes its money on job board services and referral fees.
The key, Jackson says, is delivering the audience.
“Because we do our branding so well, we’ve made tech appealing to Black people,” Jackson says. “So now we have more people, especially during the pandemic, who are like, ‘Hey, I would love to learn how to get into this.’ Because even at entry level, tech pays better than pretty much anything else.”
Growing the talent pool starts with education. “We get people trained,” Jackson says. On the flip side, Black Tech Talent is also partnering with schools and other training programs to place qualified students in jobs that pay well.
Jackson plans to launch Black Tech Talent’s first Black Tech Talent Summit this summer and is developing an app to help match employers and job seekers. He says that the app will “reduce the fluff” of traditional matching platforms, pairing jobs and candidates based on three to five core qualifications, like the languages a candidate codes in and years of experience. “It would be nice for employers to easily see who’s a 90 percent match and who’s only a 60 percent match,” Jackson says. “And also, because we’re focused on Black technologists, the app will help demystify the industry and opportunities and beat out the narrative that there are not any Black people in tech or that they’re not good at tech.”
HIs goals are lofty: Over the next five years, Jackson hopes to place 15,000 Black people in tech jobs.