This year Afrotech hit differently, albeit 100% digital and dubbed ‘Afrotech World,’ it provided a break, a smile, a light that we all so very much needed. Here are 4 takeaways from Afrotech we found valuable.
Over the past few months people have been asking me what is Afrotech and why is it such an important conference for Black professionals and a company like Medallia — and yes I realize the statement “people have been asking me about…” is a social media influencer’s go to line, but I promise when I say it, it’s actually true. Bear with me and keep reading — it gets better.
Afrotech is, in Blavity’s words, “an experience, and continues to be one of the largest multicultural tech conferences in the United States, bringing together engineers, venture capitalists, recruiters, technologists, and culture enthusiasts from all over the world.”
In my words, it’s a space to spark Black joy, uplift Black excellence, support Black entrepreneurs, and provide opportunities. Most importantly, however, it’s a community, which in 2020 has carried a lot of weight among Black individuals inside and outside of the workplace. This year we have seen a deadly virus rip through the Black community, killing its people at almost three times the rate of White, Non-Hispanic people. We have seen the community pour out into the streets screaming and crying out the words Black Lives Matter. And we have seen unemployment impact all people at record numbers.
This year, in 2020, Afrotech hit differently, albeit 100% digital and dubbed ‘Afrotech World,’ it provided a break, a smile, a light that we all so very much needed. So when I am asked what Afrotech is, sure I can easily say, “it’s a conference,” but that would be a disservice to what Afrotech actually does for and means to Black professionals and the community. So, what exactly did we, the Medallians who attended the conference, take away from it aside from the fun of taking over our Instagram and Twitter handles? Keep scrolling to find out our takeaways from Afrotech.
The vibe of Afrotech is simply like no other conference out there. Aside from the dancing avatars, Trap Bingo, yoga, and R&B concerts, was the ability to “freely roam a world where our culture is highlighted and celebrated, not having to constantly be aware and feel like I’m a minority,” said Sharry Ash, professional services analyst with Medallia.
There is an ease and fluidity of falling into relatable conversations, which made it very easy to grow one’s network and present hiring opportunities. In an industry where the percentage of Black professionals remains low, a conference such as Afrotech provides connections and opportunities that open doors. And as we continue to grow our Diversity Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) initiatives here at Medallia, we were able to see firsthand the value in attending Afrotech World.
There is no substitute for seeing people all around you who are wildly intelligent, driven and successful and who also happen to look like you. To be in a space where you don’t have to worry about your hair or head wrap being the topic of discussion, and where code switching is nonexistent, matters.
‘Culture fit’ has been a part of the interview process in the tech industry for forever now, and although the ‘culture fit’ criteria can be problematic for reasons that I will save for another blog, the notion of “will I belong at this company” is a question that many Black candidates enter into their interviews with. This is why Medallia showing up in spaces such as Afrotech matters. “People recognizing Medallia made me feel like I was in a way carrying a torch showing them that Medallia could potentially be a place for them where they’re seen and acknowledged,” said Ash, adding, “to feel like they can bring their whole self to work.”
Medallia is growing and dedicated to “hiring the whole person.” Join the #MedalliaLife by heading to our careers page and applying today!