Silicon Valley giants power up digital equity at HBCUs

Slaton Brown of HP also shared that in addition to acquiring the digital know-how, emotional intelligence and the ability to engage people to sell yourself is critical to success in the corporate tech world. “EQ is equally as important as IQ.”

Each roundtable speaker adamantly agreed that corporate partnerships with HBCUs are mutually beneficial because they make their operations stronger. Jackson State University President Dr. Thomas Hudson chimed in: “The greater exposure HBCUs are experiencing now allows us to give you more of what you’re seeking across all fields and disciplines.”

“In an industry where continuous innovation is paramount to business survival, studies show the most diverse companies outperform their less diverse competitors. Along with demographic shifts that will transform the U.S. into a majority-minority nation by 2045, inclusion has become synonymous with innovation,” Slaton Brown said. “At HP, we’re making diversity and inclusion more than an outlier by building digital equity into our business strategy.”

Bottom line: If you don’t have an inclusion and a “tech-quity” strategy, you don’t have a growth strategy.

HBCUs also provide corporations with an extraordinary opportunity to gain access to a tech native generation that was born into a digital economy and social media universe catapulted by the “Black Twitter” viral halo effect. “Younger generations who are digital natives bring tremendous value to organizations. When we invite HBCU students to join the HP-HBCU Business Challenge, we’re very cognizant that we’re learning from them,” said Slaton Brown.

With this game-changing demographic that over-indexes on social and mobile, while driving the engagement on platforms that validates social algorithms, Black millennials and Gen Zers should also be represented within the workforce DNA of the tech companies they’re driving record-breaking profits for.

“Tech talent is not a homogenous group,” said Jones.

Stinnett agreed: “There’s room in this industry for everybody.” Though he cautioned companies must invest in making sure they are as inclusive as possible if these partnerships are to achieve the desired results. “Nothing is more disappointing than going out to these wonderful HBCUs and mining this wonderful talent and bringing them into a toxic environment where they cannot thrive,” Stinnett said.

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The HBCU Tech Conference has planted the hope that championing Black talent will create more employment opportunities, while building key pipelines between HBCUs and tech companies.

“It’s really about increasing awareness and access, allowing us to be at the table in the room with advocates that can go to bat for the brilliant talent on HBCU campuses that can add value to tech corporations,” Hudson said.

As Slaton Brown put it, “The origins of our country are based on the backs of Blacks and African-Americans, thus the innovation has long been there.”

Now it’s time to place their brilliant descendants on the backs of tech giants that can help accelerate a digital equity path for all.

– Written by Marcellus Womack

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