If you are in technology, Silicon Slopes is THE place you’d want to be. It is one of the largest and most prominent annual tech events in the world. Now in its fifth year, the summit features keynotes, in-depth breakout sessions, entertainment, and one-of-a-kind networking opportunities. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to have a front row seat in the world of technology. It is the hub of Utah’s startup and tech community.
With this information in mind, most black publications would not attend such an event because of the lack of diversity; we are in Utah, okay! That didn’t stop my desire to attend in a press capacity to soak in what this amazing event full of networking, educational experiences and opportunities presented. In addition, my intention was to speak to the policy makers to see what has been implemented in their companies to specifically either help or employ black men and women in the technology sector.
As one of the slight and I mean slight few, black people in the audience, I truly enjoyed the conversations of how the community will honor their own, how GaryVee was on point when he predicted audio being the next big wave, how content will always be King and how understanding the true meaning of marketing and how to apply it to your business will truly be it’s greatest shift!
The conversation that made me sit up in my seat was with Senator Mitt Romney and former Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer. He said, “Windows 1 and 2 failed.. but 3 was it. Stick with your product. As a leader, you have to pick the right direction for your company. If you’re not long term thinking, you’re in trouble. Be broad enough in leadership with the ability to think boldly but you have to be willing to think long term!”
After watching and listening to Mr. Ballmer speak on leadership, I was ready to speak to one to get some of my questions answered! My desire is to find out if they have/are implementing plans for black people, specifically! If the companies are, then let’s work together and if not, that’s cool too! It’s really cool too because black people are the biggest consumers, we don’t have to consume your product; it’s really as simple as that! All of our dollars make $en$e when we are educated on where to put them. With more and more black people becoming educated on how to spend their money more wisely, it’s imperative for us to be educated on who tangibly supports the community and who does not.
When asked which leader I’d like to interview, my mind went to Josh James, Founder and CEO of Domo. A great friend of mine, Lisa Barlow of the Housewives of Salt Lake City told me when Josh and I meet, we would definitely do some great things together because Domo is an amazing company! Domo, Inc is a cloud-based platform designed to provide direct, simplified, real-time access to business data for decision makers across the company with minimal IT involvement. Domo integrates with multiple data sources, including spreadsheets, databases, social media and other cloud-based or on-premises software programs. In March 2021, Domo was named on the Women Tech Council (WTC) 2020 Shatter List for the fourth consecutive year for hiring and retaining women in IT careers.
According to the National Center For Women & Information Technology study, women of color made up only about 11% of the computing and mathematical workforce in 2019, with Black women only comprising 3% of the total. My desire was to know and understand Josh’s hiring of black women specifically and why is diversity hiring important to him.
The interview flowed like this:
Tunisha Brown: Why is diversity hiring important to you?
Josh James: First of all, it’s the right thing to do. There are underrepresented communities that are seeking the opportunity and it’s just good business. If you look at what your customer base looks like, your customer base doesn’t look like what Utah looks like. My customer base is a global customer base. We need to be able to reach out to our customer base, be perceived as a company who understands our customer base with people of diverse backgrounds, which makes for better innovative decisions. Makes for better decisions for thought leadership and over time the value of your company ends up being the brand of your company. You can’t build a brand nor protect it if it’s not diverse.
TB: What are the ways Domo is proactively doing the work?
JJ: The biggest thing we did, and any company can do, is the parity pledge. We took the parity pledge to ensure every position we opened for a VP or higher, we wanted to be sure we had at least one female candidate. During the time Black Lives Matter was at the forefront of the world, we asked ourselves if there were more we could do? We decided we could do this parity even greater by extending it to the entire company and also have it to be a person of color, unrepresented minority, and a female! This has been great because you can’t take that pledge without building a pipeline of people. It cost us a little more money in the beginning, but when you get people of diverse backgrounds working for your company, they recruit other people that are similar. Also, we made sure to only employ the best candidates; this is for any company. You have to reiterate to your company that you are only going to hire the best candidates by working hard to find the best diverse candidates.
TB: For black women specifically, are there initiatives to bring them in?
JJ: Yes, but the Zoom culture has made it difficult. 4 years ago, moving to work for a company was a thing, now with the Zoom culture, it is not. So, we still have incentives for people who would like to move to headquarters; we cover the costs. We don’t have a very black state, so we need to move more black people to our state. It’s the only way it is going to change. We have a goal to move 10 people every year. If we are successful with this goal, we will find other companies in our state to commit to that as well. If you’re hiring 100 to 200 people, it’s not that big of a deal to hire people from out of state to get them to move here.
TB: Through IMPACT, I’ve done countless of events to showcase the culture of the magazine. Considering Utah is not a black state, have you ever thought about the ways to attract your black candidates by showcasing the culture of your company?
JJ: No, but we need to! I remember I was talking to the President of the Association of Black Engineers and he said you know what the people that are willing to move, the first question they are going to ask is, “Where can I get my haircut?”
TB: EXACTLY! This is the event I’m going to produce for IMPACT.
JJ: Listen, if there are black companies that are not tech, who need to be in this community, we would definitely look to help to invest, support, and back them! I’m sure I could get my friends to do the same.
Bingo! Out of the heart the mouth speaks! I knew coming to speak with the source would facilitate the desire to fulfill a need; specifically a need for the black community in Utah! Black people are needed in this state in a myriad of ways. From the tech sector, to the beauty and fashion arena. With the help of Domo and other partners, we are about to make a shift in the culture.
Stay tuned… the first Quarter of 2022, through IMPACT Magazines initiative, “IMPACT Black Women,” we are bringing this amazing experience full of opportunities just for you in Utah!
Written by: Tunisha Brown, Founder/Editor-In-Chief of IMPACT Magazine