Women of Color in Tech Reception – New York City

Our Presence, Our Power
Presented in Partnership with HBO
Wednesday, May 17, 2017

To say diversity is a topic of conversation in the tech space is an understatement.  Since the rise of technology giants like Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google, there has been an awakening of sorts and now, more than ever, there is a realization that the representation of underrepresented communities (i.e., Blacks, Latinos and women) is significantly low relative to their representation in other corporate sectors.

Some companies maintain that there is a pipeline problem and there just aren’t enough talented people of color for all of these large and midsize technology companies to hire. Digital Diversity Network (DDN) aims to disprove that notion by providing platforms–like our Women of Color in Technology initiative– to showcase the contributions of people of color in digital and technology. 

If you were among the nearly 200 attendees at our Women of Color in Technology Reception on May 17th at HBO, you would have evidenced a small fraction of the amazingly talented women of color who are making an impact in today’s tech world. They comprised founders, as well as professionals from non-profits and companies like Accenture, BNY Mellon, BET, Comcast NBCUniversal, Facebook, Google, HBO, MasterCard, Samsung, The New York Times, Verizon, Viacom and Yahoo, among others.  

Themed, Our Presence, Our Power, DDN’s Women of Color in Technology initiative was launched in May 2016 in partnership with HBO to educate, empower and ignite positive action to improve the future for women of color in the Innovation Economy.  This third installment (a second event was hosted in partnership with YouTube and Google in December 2016) opened with a keynote conversation with award-winning journalist, documentarian, news anchor and producer, Soledad O’Brien.   The conversation was moderated by award-winning journalist, Jenna Wortham of The New York Times Magazine.  Soledad’s honest, unfiltered revelations about her own career successes and challenges left audience members feeling empowered and inspired.  

The panelists that followed sparked further excitement and positive feedback.  Asmau Ahmed, Founder & CEO, Plum Perfect, Deborah Berebichez, Ph.D., Chief Data Scientist, Metis; Kejo Clark, Director of Media Servicing Operations, HBO; Dr. Mitu Khandaker, Chief Creative Officer at Spirit AI; and Angela Lee, Founder of 37 Angels and Associate Dean & Chief Innovation Officer at Columbia Business School all shared experiences and offered pearls of wisdom.

Kejo advised attendees to “be authentic to your values and non-negotiables” and Asmau encouraged women to “be honest about your desired image and your dreaded image.”  Angela stressed the importance of “learning to say “no” and to Delete, Diminish, Delay and Delegate.”   Deborah talked about the importance of “planning your day so that your values are your priorities” and Mitu emphasized that women “should not compromise just to be liked or perceived as the cool girl.”

The theme, Our Presence, Our Power, perfectly captured the essence of the event as guests networked; exchanged ideas; celebrated one another; received empowering career advice; and left armed with new strategies for uplifting one another and improving the future of women of color in digital and technology.