Black Professionals in Tech Network (BPTN) includes over 10,000 members, making it the largest network of its kind in Canada. Here, Black tech professionals and senior executives work together, forging a community that’s captured in career progress, which includes skills training, hiring opportunities, as well as promotional assistance. Today the network got even sweeter since BPTN announced new and renewed partnerships with some of Canada’s leading companies and institutions to make all the above count even more. Partners include Top Hat, Hootsuite, Rangle.io, MaRS Discovery District, TD Bank, and Bell Canada, among others.
“Not all of us have a Black professional in our network, or a connection with a Black person,” says Lekan Olawoye, the founder and CEO of BPTN, adding that this is a reason why it can be hard for everyone to see the problems Black professionals face. Olawoye expressed this concern as part of the opening remarks during Thursday’s press brief. But saying it isn’t enough.
The company, which serves Black professionals working in tech or on tech, aims to provide a pipeline by learning how to retain talent and becoming an employer to that talent. With the addition of new partnerships that will involve mentorship, education, employable strategies, and a safety net to learn and grow within, this pipeline only gets stronger.
Olawoye, who knows a thing or two about building community, explained how important access is for making sure Black professionals know one another, but this needs to be common practice ingrained in the daily ethos of a business—not forced in. He also said there is a disconnect with senior level executives, but through mentoring up-and-coming black tech professionals this “network gap” can lessen. “This is how you move the needle,” says Olawoye.
He also mentioned how hiring processes can be problematic. For example, when looking for talent a lot of the times it comes down to people in the company recruiting within their own network.
“Nine out of 10 times the person you will choose is the one from your network,” explains Olawoye.
This means regardless of how much a talent and acquisition person reaches out to build a team, many highly qualified Black candidates get left out because they are not part of that inner talent pool that knows someone at the company already.
“They are not connected to those decision makers, so no matter how much work a T&A does, they will not be hired at scale, and that talent gap is the thing that gets in the way of hiring,” says Olawoye.
In October, BPTN will host BFUTR 2020, the largest virtual gathering of Black tech professionals. Attendees will visually and virtually check inside different rooms to listen and participate. Here is where there will be rapid fire talks, keynotes, networking opportunities, and easy ways to exchange resumes in real time. And if you’re not a fan of video chat (we get it), then you can type it out, or chat using your voice to connect. Options are good.
BPTN and its new partners ongoing focus is now to “make sure we normalize engagement with Black tech,” says Olawoye. And there is a need for brands to “show up” to help ensure this happens.
“It’s about diversity and belonging, this builds community, this is what creates an environment to do the best work,” adds Olawoye.