Deploy Friday: hot topics for cloud technologists and developers

#31: The BIPOC experience (Black Indigenous People of Color) in tech

June 30, 2021 Robert Douglass,, Anjuan Simmons, entrepreneur Season 1 Episode 31
Deploy Friday: hot topics for cloud technologists and developers
#31: The BIPOC experience (Black Indigenous People of Color) in tech
Show Notes

Guest Anjuan Simmons and host Robert Douglass explore the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) experience in the tech world.

Facing additional burdens 

As a Black manager and leader with 25 years of experience in the technologist space, Anjuan carries more burdens than most. He lists:

  • Being many people’s first Black manager
  • Being looked at as a “token hire”
  • Dealing with stereotypes others have about Black people

Anjuan sums it up, “Really, I have to do two jobs: the job I was hired to do, and the job of carrying these burdens.” 

Assess your progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion

Diversity can be a shallow statistic. Anjuan’s goal is to reach beyond diversity and into true belonging. Everyone has a part in making this happen, but especially those in charge of hiring. Anjuan says, “If you have hiring responsibility at a technology company, hire Black women.” 

He suggests three questions as a litmus test for companies who want to know how they’re doing in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  • How many Black women work here?
  • Do you know who these Black women are?
  • Do you think they could do your job?

Anjuan explains his reasoning for asking these questions. “Black women are often the most disadvantaged when it comes to working in technology. So if you as a company can answer these questions well, that is the clearest indicator I've ever come across to really see how you're doing. If you can't answer those questions, especially as a manager, it’s likely you have a long way to go.” 


Anjuan also provides an acronym he uses to illustrate how you can be a BIPOC ally in technology: H.E.L.P.

  • History: Do the hard work of learning more about the history of racism.
  • Empathy: Provide empathy, which says “I hurt with you,” instead of sympathy.
  • Listen: Listen to BIPOC experiences in tech.
  • Provide help: Where and how BIPOC tell you it’s needed.

Anjuan explains, “By understanding the history, by developing empathy, and by listening, you'll be able to provide help. And you'll be a part of what I think we can all do, which is exert that gravitational pull that will help us bend the arc of the moral universe closer to justice.”

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