SnackWalls

E70 Pariss Athena: #BlackTechTwitter

December 02, 2020 Mike Roberts Season 1 Episode 70
SnackWalls
E70 Pariss Athena: #BlackTechTwitter
Chapters
SnackWalls
E70 Pariss Athena: #BlackTechTwitter
Dec 02, 2020 Season 1 Episode 70
Mike Roberts

Episode 7-0!!!! That's 70 episodes worth of amazing guests. Today is no different as we have Pariss Athena, the creator of the the #BlackTechTwitter movement. Enjoy

Pariss believes it is difficult to find diverse talent when you do not personally have a diverse network. However, recruiters can find this talent if they are willing to branch out, network, and engage with people outside of their communities. She thinks that removing CS degree requirements from software roles is the equitable and right thing to do. Many people of color do not have the opportunity of going to college, but can still learn the skills necessary to be successful as a developer through alternative routes. Pariss is a fan of implementing apprenticeship programs within tech companies. It is a great way for someone who is just entering the industry to learn how the company operates, what tech stacks are used, and how teams collaborate. To retain diverse talent, Pariss would advise companies to survey how their staff feels about the current inclusivity and equity practices. Then work on making actionable steps towards constant improvement. Any policies, practices, or procedures that are implemented must be rooted in the foundation of the company and its culture.  

Pariss Athena is the Founder & CEO of Black Tech Pipeline, a platform bringing exposure, resources, and opportunities to Black Technologists. She is the creator of the movement and community #BlackTechTwitter, a global movement that brought exposure to the existing Black community in tech.

SnackWalls is powered by San Diego Code School: https://sdcs.io

Please share like and subscribe for more reach 🙌🏾

Show Notes Transcript

Episode 7-0!!!! That's 70 episodes worth of amazing guests. Today is no different as we have Pariss Athena, the creator of the the #BlackTechTwitter movement. Enjoy

Pariss believes it is difficult to find diverse talent when you do not personally have a diverse network. However, recruiters can find this talent if they are willing to branch out, network, and engage with people outside of their communities. She thinks that removing CS degree requirements from software roles is the equitable and right thing to do. Many people of color do not have the opportunity of going to college, but can still learn the skills necessary to be successful as a developer through alternative routes. Pariss is a fan of implementing apprenticeship programs within tech companies. It is a great way for someone who is just entering the industry to learn how the company operates, what tech stacks are used, and how teams collaborate. To retain diverse talent, Pariss would advise companies to survey how their staff feels about the current inclusivity and equity practices. Then work on making actionable steps towards constant improvement. Any policies, practices, or procedures that are implemented must be rooted in the foundation of the company and its culture.  

Pariss Athena is the Founder & CEO of Black Tech Pipeline, a platform bringing exposure, resources, and opportunities to Black Technologists. She is the creator of the movement and community #BlackTechTwitter, a global movement that brought exposure to the existing Black community in tech.

SnackWalls is powered by San Diego Code School: https://sdcs.io

Please share like and subscribe for more reach 🙌🏾

Mike:

Welcome back to the SnackWalls podcast. I'm Mike Roberts, your host, and we're here to talk about increasing and maintaining diversity in tech, beyond the perks. While companies think they can lure people in with unlimited PTO and dogs in the office, we're here to talk about how you keep them. Alright I'm going to throw it over to our special guest today. In a few sentences, can you tell us who you are and what it is that you do?

Pariss:

I am Pariss Athena. I'm creator of the hashtag movement and community blackTechTwitter, and I'm founder of Black Tech Pipeline. I recruit black technologists into a bunch of different companies and I help those companies retain those black technologists.

Mike:

Nice. So I have heard of the hashtag BlackTechsTwitter that is now on LinkedIn. Which is a thing that people just like what?

Pariss:

Yeah.

Mike:

So I am super impressed and very gracious that you, took the time out to chat with us today. And I'm just going to jump in and I'll start with the first question, which is that I'm hearing from some thought leaders talent is a challenge. What are your thoughts?

Pariss:

I think it's a challenge when you don't have a diverse network personally. So if you, depending on who you are like for me, I work with a lot of employers, who have mainly white companies and they also have white recruiters. And those recruiters within their network, they don't know a lot of black people. They don't know a lot of people outside of their community. And so they need to branch out and, you know, network and engage with others who don't look like them and they are in separate communities, but they exist in every single industry. It's just, you have to get up and go find people where they're at.

Mike:

I like that. So go meet them. Don't expect them to come to you. Then also, it's hard for you to see them when you're not, that's not what you're looking for. Right. We all have these implicit biases. And I think a lot of people just don't recognize that that's part of the problem. So what do you think about the push to remove CS degrees from some of these software engineering roles?

Pariss:

I think it's the equitable and right thing to do. For me, I look at it as from poor communities, they're mainly black and brown, unfortunately. And so they're going to look at different routes that are cheaper, cheaper, and easier than going and getting a four year degree, and needing to take out loans and things like that. So, you know, applying to things like bootcamps or just teaching themselves, that's what they have to do to get by. And so to be equitable, you should be looking at different programs that are and brown people. People who look differently from those who are already in your workplace.

Mike:

Yeah, absolutely. So it's that whole like skill through alternative routes, right? And demonstrating the skills that are necessary to do the job and not necessarily a piece of paper. I like that. I like that. And I think for, for some people, they don't even really think about why someone might skip college there and their brain, like college is the right filter by which, you know, you show that you're ready for this kind of thing, but.

Pariss:

Not everyone has that access. They don't have that opportunity.

Mike:

A hundred percent agree. So what do you think about, the apprenticeship pattern? Do you think it would work for tech roles.

Pariss:

Um, apprenticeships before the job?

Mike:

Um-hum.

Pariss:

I actually love that, especially for someone who's just entering the industry. I think it's good to learn, you know, how things work at this specific company let's learn the tech stack, what kind of work could you expect to be getting into, how do teams collaborate? I think it's like a good headstart and then just go once you're transitioning into the actual job, it's not going to be as hard of a transition. So I I'm personally a fan of that.

Mike:

Nice. So what advice would you share with companies that have done a good job in attracting diverse talent. How do you retain diverse staff?

Pariss:

I think it really starts with having policies in place to protect, your, you know, black and Brown employees. So for me, I really talk about, you know, taking care of what's at home before you invite more people in. So how does your current staff feel about your, inclusivity practices? How do they feel about your equity practices? And once you find that out, you know, how are you going to be actionable and making sure you're improving constantly and not just being performative. And I find that this really has to come from top down, not bottom up. Leadership needs to be bought into D E and I. They need to implement these policies, practices, and procedures into the foundation of the company and grow with it. I think it's really hard when companies, they diversify too late in the game and then they try to bring in diverse candidates. It's really hard to retain them because they've already established this culture, which is only beneficial to the majority of the company, which is mainly white. And then you can't expect a diverse person to come in and assimilate. Right? Cause that's not inclusive. Um, so there are a lot of issues there that needs to be met, but yeah.

Mike:

Yeah. And I think for some folks, like myself, you sort of learned to code switch, right? And so your point, you really shouldn't, and it's an overhead that you have to also deal with. In addition to all your other functions, you gotta decide how much of yourself to leave at the door to maintain your sanity while you're inside of a shop. That's just, doesn't appreciate some of the differences and things, the lived the experience you bring to the table. So hundred percent agree if they can have their stuff together, it makes it easier. It's like a snowball effect, right. Where now you're like, okay, we just build momentum. We're not trying to like, overturn something. That's like, it's like baked in culture. So I like that. So who is someone like yourself that you'd like to acknowledge as a leader, and you think maybe you'd be a good guest on a podcast like this?

Pariss:

Valerie Phoenix, her name is DigitalBlkHippy on Twitter, I believe. And she currently has a really dope event coming up, where she's going to be speaking with, I think like a legal team is going to come in and talk to black technologists about their rights for when they do enter the industry. So that they're prepared for things that they might endure in the workplace, but how to handle those things. So, definitely her.

Mike:

Nice. All right. So she's on the radar. Let's see if we can get her on the program. So where can we find out more information about your work and I'm especially interested in like Black Tech Twitter pipeline, like Black Tech Pipeline. Tell me a little bit more about that.

Pariss:

Yeah, so with Black Tech Pipeline, so we have a talent database full of black technologists from all around the world. And so I work with employers who want to, they're looking to diversify, they want to do better. So they'll come to me and have me source candidates from a database to fill their open roles. The thing is, it's a little different for me with recruitment. Anytime someone gets hired out of Black Tech Pipeline, I make sure that I have a system in place to hold those employers accountable. So I do biweekly check-ins for the first 90 days on the job of that hire. And those biweekly check-ins look like me asking how it's going. What's their experience been like, do they have the tools and resources that they need? They'll give me really transparent feedback on how employer. I take some of that feedback with their safety and consent. I take some of that feedback and relay it to either their manager, a people ops person, DEI officer, and they go through and talk about how we're going to set up that hire for success based on their goals and their needs. We talk about their current, the company's current DEI practices and policies. We break those down and we make them more inclusive and equitable for everyone just because a lot of companies think they're doing it right. But once you kind of break things down, you're like you're missing so many different pieces and that's because of the lack of representation. And then also if anything, malicious happens within the 90 days that I'm there I go ahead and I make sure that they're following through with making sure they're going to tackle that and make sure it doesn't happen again. And they have, again, those systems in place where if things like this happen again, we're going to hold someone accountable and we're going to take those action steps needed. So that's recruitment. Then we have a job board that's also focused on D E and I. So, if you go onto our job board, you'll see that every single company has a landing page. And on that landing page is where they list out, again, it's like their company values, their DEI practices and policies so that, you at least have some knowledge before you go ahead and apply to the company. You see what they're doing to make sure that they're creating a safe space for people who look like you. And I.

Mike:

Nice. I liked that. I like the fact that there's now like a one-stop shop where people can go. It eliminates that question, people have is like, okay, I'm having a hard time finding diverse talent. Now there's a place where they can go, like the easy button. You've created the easy button is what I think I've just described.

Pariss:

Oh, thank you. Yeah, I'm just trying. Thanks.

Mike:

So most important question now, this is tough, so I save it for the end. What have you been snacking on lately? What's your favorite snack?

Pariss:

I'm going to say food. There's a food. So definitely hot chocolate with, they are these like cookies. I forgot what they're called. It's like a plain cookie with like a chocolate layer on top of it. And then also a snack. I want everyone to know about are, rice cakes with Nutella spread on them. They're really freaking yummy. They're so good. Yeah.

Mike:

That's sounds really good. Nice. Awesome. Well thanks again Pariss, I really appreciate you coming on the program.

Pariss:

Thank you. This was fun.

Mike:

The San Diego Code School is a proud sponsor of the SnackWall's podcast. The San Diego Code School is leading companies to tech equity. The tech enabled apprenticeship program is a venture whose heart is to do a lot of social good and do good work. You can help San Diego Code School secure funding for change by hiring developers, bringing a team in to relieve your backlog, or becoming a program sponsor. You can visit us on the web for more information at

http:

//sdcs .io.