SEATTLE–Karat, the world’s largest interviewing company, is celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Brilliant Black Minds program by announcing new industry partners, adding two new advisory board members and hosting a special SXSW edition of Real Talk. Former Google senior software engineer and founder of Morgan Latimer Consulting, Anthony D. Mays, is joining the Brilliant Black Minds advisory board as Senior Advisor, and Dr. Katherine Picho-Kiroga, founder and CEO of Impact Analytics, and Howard University Professor of Educational Psychology is joining the team as an Interview Equity Advisor.
Karat is deepening its work to eliminate bias in its interviews and scale its Brilliant Black Minds program. Mays and Dr. Picho-Kiroga have been longtime partners of the program and will help it grow to reach more Black engineers as they expand their work in a more formal capacity.
“Black leaders like Anthony Mays and Dr. Katherine Picho-Kiroga have firsthand experience overcoming the obstacles that push too many people out of careers in tech,” said Karat Co-founder and President Jeffrey Spector. “We are honored and humbled to have them joining the Brilliant Black Minds advisory board to create more opportunities for interview practice, and to make the interviews the industry conducts more fair.”
Mays, who founded the interview consulting firm, Morgan Latimer Consulting, to help people succeed in the tech industry, understands better than anyone the challenges facing Black software engineers.
“Growing up in Compton, I experienced a painful lack of access to both technology and to the people who build technology, which added barriers as I was launching my career,” said Anthony Mays, Senior Brilliant Black Minds Advisor. “I want more young engineers to see themselves fitting in at big tech companies so they can share in the innovation and wealth creation that the industry provides, and working with Karat will help create a more level playing field for interviewing and hiring.”
Dr. Picho-Kiroga from Howard University, has been working closely with the Karat team as a research consultant and was instrumental in developing the Interview Access Gap for Black Engineers research report. Picho-Kiroga’s primary focus in her advisory role will be helping identify ways to reduce bias in interviews.
“Interview anxiety, social anxiety, and social identity threat are major obstacles for anyone starting their careers, but they have a profound impact on Black people entering the tech industry where there are few people who look and sound like they do,” noted Dr. Picho-Kiroga, Karat’s Interview Equity Advisor. “Women of color experience these anxieties at the highest rates of any group. Helping Karat create a more human-centered interview can make the industry less intimidating and will open up hiring pipelines for underrepresented candidates.”
Get Real: Black and White Leaders Talk Tech Talent
Karat’s SXSW panel, Get Real: Black and White Tech Leaders Talk Tech Talent will take place Monday March 14th from 2:30-3:30 pm CT at the Austin Downtown Hilton, Salon K. We’ll be sharing highlights and clips of the conversation live using the hashtag #RealTalk and welcome everyone to follow along with the conversation. Portia Kibble Smith, Karat’s head of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) will moderate the panel, which also includes panelists Roz Francuz-Harris, director of tech recruiting at Zillow Group, and Rafael Williams, Redfin recruiting manager for emerging talent, sourcing, and inclusive programs, and Jeffrey Spector, president and co-founder at Karat.
Topics will include the challenges associated with technical hiring and why so few companies are successfully eliminating systemic issues that have locked out candidates from underrepresented backgrounds. Panelists will share personal examples of their career paths, advice for people breaking into the industry, and approaches for changing the way the tech industry hires at individual, company, and systemic levels.
“It is imperative we have these discussions about biases that exist in tech as they prevent talented Black engineers from landing jobs,” added Mays. “Karat is taking a stand and creating measurable impact, not only for diversifying the workplace, but for ensuring that tech professionals are not overlooked due to limited access to opportunities and education growing up.”
Breaking down barriers with Brilliant Black Minds
Over the past year, Karat conducted thousands of practice interviews for Brilliant Black Minds program participants, with live coaching and feedback on ways to improve interview performance. The program also offered career development workshops with Black industry leaders on a wide range of professional development topics including networking, salary negotiation, and interviewing.
In addition to expanding the Brilliant Black Minds team, Karat is also unlocking new opportunities for Black engineers to participate in the program. This spring, Tribaja joins Jopwell as a new Brilliant Black Minds partner organization, offering free practice interviews to their member engineers. In addition to the industry partners, Karat has expanded the program to students from more than 20 universities including University of North Carolina Charlotte and North Carolina A&T.
Results have been very encouraging. Engineers who had 3 or more practice interviews were twice as likely to say they were somewhat or very likely to succeed in a technical interview compared to those with no practice, and six times as likely to have secured an engineering internship. 71% of candidates who took more than 3 interviews reported notable improvement.