With numbers like these it is a reality that, for the majority of her working life, a Black woman working in technology will be in a room where she is the only person who looks like her. It has been found in a study by McKinsey that “companies who are diverse perform better, hire better talent, have more engaged employees and retain workers better than companies who do not focus on diversity and inclusion.”
However, women, and more specifically women of color, remain underrepresented across the technology industry. To share their experiences and insights into the approaches they have taken in their careers, we connected with some of our Black women team members at Calendly to understand what has helped them as they grow in their tech career.
1. Always be learning and honing your skills
Crystal Gloss is a Product Specialist at Calendly and interacts with our customers every day. She found #BlackTechTwitter to be a valuable resource for seeking out career advice.
“I have found some amazing professionals like Latesha Byrd, Jermaine Jupiter, Simone B. and Brittany B. who have given great insight and guidance as I am navigating my career. I’ve also learned that you have to be flexible with your skill set. Be willing to be open and apply to roles outside of your [comfort zone], learn new skills and take risks. It can be helpful to connect with professionals who can help you identify your strengths, [gaps in your skill set] and what opportunities you should focus on.”
Similarly, fellow Product Specialist Stassi Carrington believes that sharpening your skills is key. “You should always be researching trends in the industry. Make sure you’re always working on fine-tuning your skills. You want to be on top of your game so you’re doing the best job you can do.”
2. Advocate for yourself
Being part of an underrepresented group can present challenges as you navigate your career. Erika Chestnut is Calendly’s Head of QA and her advice is simple. “Learn to advocate for yourself.”
Calendly Recruiter, Jade Michel, agrees. “The lack of people that may look like you, especially as a Black woman, may be overwhelming and cause you to feel misunderstood but [if you advocate for yourself], it can be hugely beneficial. Don’t be afraid to help educate those around you in an appropriate setting. We can’t expect people to truly understand if we are unwilling to share and speak out.”
3. Find the right place for you
Early in her career, Stassi recognized the acceptance she received at her companies and thinks it is unique to the tech industry.
“I have found this industry to be very accepting, where my work stands alone and my appearance doesn’t matter. This is an industry where hard work is rewarded. You don’t need a Bachelors in Computer Science to get in either, which is something that is beneficial to so many communities.
“When companies interview you, remember you are also interviewing them. Both sides are trying to determine if this is the right fit for one another. Ask yourself one simple question, ‘does the culture fit you?’ We often try to fit into other people's spaces, but it may help to focus on organizations that meet our needs.
“I didn't think about this until joining Calendly, but I now know what it feels like to bring my authentic self to work every day. A great leadership team has set the tone for this type of environment. It's empowering, drives collaboration, and I truly enjoy my team. I want that for all of us.”