Despite diversity being a much-discussed topic in the tech industry, representation for Black tech workers is still not where it needs to be, with African Americans holding just 7% of positions in the tech industry, and only 2% of tech executive roles, according to data from the Diversity in High Tech report published by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Moreover, Black IT pros — even those in leadership positions — still encounter unique challenges both in the workplace and in their career paths.
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While the onus of change rests in large part on employers to alter their approaches to hiring and inclusivity in the workplace, the following 15 professional organizations are dedicated to advancing the careers of Black IT pros and increasing Black representation in the tech industry through training, networking resources, and more.
American Association of Blacks in Energy
The American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) is dedicated to ensuring African Americans and other minorities have input and a voice in the discussion and development of energy policies, regulations, R&D technologies, and environmental issues. AABE awards $350,000 annually in scholarships to students in energy-related tech fields and offers a career center for job seekers and employers. There’s also the AABE Institute, which provides training, technical assistance, market information, supplier and partnership opportunities, and business solutions. The AABE Institute has a goal of leading resource for energy issues in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Diaspora, with a focus on sustainable development.
Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA)
The Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA) is an international organization founded in 1975 as a network for underrepresented minorities working in the IT and computer science fields. The BDPA organizes technology conferences, local chapter events, continuing education and professional development events, academic scholarships, and mentoring and career opportunities for Black IT professionals. The BPDA also organizes community outreach programs for students including the Student Information Technology Education and Scholarship (SITES), National High School Computer Competitions (HSCC), and Youth Technology Camp (YTC) to increase representation in tech and create pipelines for future talent.
Black Founders was started in 2011 as an organization dedicated to empowering entrepreneurs and to provide founders with access to advice, mentorship, and funding. The goal is to “stimulate tech entrepreneurship” and create more growth in the community. Black entrepreneurs are underrepresented in the tech industry and only make up 1% of VC-backed tech startup founders. Black Founders wants to increase that representation and bring more opportunity the Black entrepreneurs.
Black & Brown Founders
Black & Brown Founders is a professional organization for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs to network and learn about startup bootstrapping through online resources and events. The goal is to “give entrepreneurs knowledge, tools and cutting-edge tactics to launch startups without relying on venture capital.” Black & Brown Founders was developed after its founder Aniyia Williams saw firsthand the barriers people of color face when trying to get venture funding. She wanted to provide a way for founders of color with limited resources to get the training and resources to support their business idea, helping them grow their businesses without outside funding.
Black Female Founders
Black Female Founders labels itself both a “platform and a community” for boosting diversity in startup media, conferences, incubators, accelerators, and other venture programs. Unlike other diversity-focused programs and groups dedicated to entrepreneurship, Black Female Founders adds to that by building a pipeline to investment for its members as well. Founders involved in the group receive help and direct input on the creation and development of their businesses and access to investors. Black Female Founders addresses the need for more representation of Black women in the tech industry through hands-on workshops, networking events, awareness, and direct support in the development of startups.
Black Tech Nation (BTN)
Black Tech Nation (BTN) is dedicated to helping Black technologists gain access to valuable resources, networks, and opportunities in the tech industry. It was started in 2017 after its founder, Kelauni Jasmyn, noticed that, after graduating a coding bootcamp, she didn’t see many other software developers who “looked like her in the local tech scene.” She later received a grant to create BTN, to help create a community for other Black technologists who also felt isolated in their careers. The organization offers companies a pipeline to Black tech talent, supports the next generation of Black tech entrepreneurs, highlights impactful Black “techies,” and helps create community hubs in cities for Black technologists to connect, network, and find support.
Blacks United in Leading Technology (BUiLT)
Blacks United in Leading Technology (BUiLT) is a nonprofit professional organization that offers community-focused activities, events, and programs that focus on Black technology workers and highlight the importance of diversity, equity, and equality in the tech industry. BUiLT believes in “equity for Blacks in tech, in where they work, with those who buy our products, and investors who support our ventures,” according to the website. You can find BUiLT chapters across the United States, with locations in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Miami, North Texas, San Diego, and more.
Members enjoy free and discounted technical training, including discounted rates for Lean Six Sigma certifications, along with free training for the cybersecurity PenTest+ certification. Members also get access to a large network of other entrepreneurs, founders, senior business leaders, and other professionals dedicated to increasing representation of Black people in technology. Membership also includes professional development courses, mentorship opportunities, events, speaking opportunities, engagement with corporate sponsors, private events, and optional website listings for business owners.
Blacks in Technology
Black workers in the tech industry typically find they are the only black person in the room — and that underrepresentation bleeds into career growth, pay equity, and mentorship opportunities. Nonprofit organization Blacks in Technology (BIT) aims to “stomp the divide” between Black workers to help “level the playing field through training, education, networking and mentorship with the support of allies, partners and sponsors.”
BIT has chapters across the US and internationally where members can attend events, trainings, and tech summits designed to uplift and connect the Black tech community. Members also get access to career support, networking, and tech resources. Membership is open to any Black woman or man who works in tech, making it the largest community of BIPOC tech workers in the world.
CODE2040 is a nonprofit organization dedicated to “activating, connecting, and mobilizing the largest racial equity community in tech to dismantle the structural barriers that prevent the full participation and leadership of Black and Latinx technologists in the innovation economy.” The organization achieves this through events, training, early-career programs, and knowledge sharing to ensure Black and Latinx technologists have the tools and network to enable racial equity throughout the tech industry.
DevColor bills itself as a “global career accelerator for Black software engineers, technologists, and executives and serves as the go-to accountability partner for the companies who invest in, employ and are led by them.” DevColor is dedicated to creating a community for Black leaders in IT, a group that has been largely excluded from the tech industry by offering career development and networking resources. They offer several unique programs, including the A* program that matches participants with a small cohort of six to eight black software engineers and managers for a year to offer each other accountability, career mapping, and community.
DigitalUndivided (DID) is an organization focused on fostering more inclusivity in entrepreneurship by empowering Black and Latinx women entrepreneurs. It started as a conference for Black women founders in tech, which led to it growing into a Focus Fellow (FF) program and eventually it turned into an eight-week virtual accelerator program. And they didn’t stop there — DID later took on research projects that uncovered how Black and Latinx female founders receive less than 0.2% of all venture funding. After the report was released, the number of startups led by Black women tripled and funding increased 500%. DID has since continued to expand its offering of programs, initiatives, and research to uplift Black and Latinx female founders in tech.
Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF)
The Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) offers career-advancing programs for Black IT professionals. The ITSMF was formed in 1996 by a group of technology executives who wanted to improve diversity in the technology industry all the way to the executive level. The mission of the ITSMF is to “increase the representation of black professionals at senior levels in technology, to impact organizational innovation and growth.” The ITSMF offers programs for executives, managers, and an “emerge” program specifically designed for increasing the representation of women of color at senior levels in the technology industry. For a spotlight on ITSMF, see “ITSMF: Growing Black IT careers through leadership programs.”
National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME)
The National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) is a professional organization for underrepresented minorities working in engineering and STEM roles. NACME provides college scholarships for underrepresented minorities who are interested in pursuing a degree in STEM. The goal is to increase representation of BIPOC in tech by providing scholarships, resources, and opportunities for “high-achieving, underrepresented minority college students pursuing careers in engineering and computer science.” NACME’s focus is on helping students become qualified candidates for in-demand tech jobs.
National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)
The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) is a student-governed organization with 500 chapters and nearly 16,000 active members in the US and abroad. The nonprofit organization comprises collegiate and pre-collegiate students and technical professionals in engineering and technology. The mission of the NSBE is “to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community,” according to the website.
Opportunity Hub (OHUB)
The Opportunity Hub (OHUB) was founded as a “technology, startup, and venture ecosystem building platform” to ensure that everyone has “equitable access to the future of work” and to create pathways to “multigenerational wealth creation with no reliance on pre-existing multigenerational wealth.” The organization provides skills development, early tech exposure, job placement, entrepreneurship support program, new job creation, and alternative capital formation for college students, young professionals, founders, and investors nationwide.