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Debunking the diversity pipeline myth in tech: Black developer talent overflows at NSBE49

The Karat Team image

The Karat Team

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Headshot of Demetria Mack, Junior at Howard University; Karat Brilliant Black Minds Participant; Software Engineer Intern at Microsoft this summer.
Demetria Mack, Brilliant Black Minds candidate

A line of hopeful, somewhat nervous current and aspiring software developers stretched past the Amazon and Google booths at the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Convention last week in Kansas City, Missouri. Over 10,000 Black engineers and computer scientists buzzed with determination, purpose and focus as they explored the arena lined with corporations seeking top talent.

After making rounds at hundreds of other companies with their resumes, they waited patiently for their chance to sit across from the lens of New Jersey based editorial photographer Joel Arbaje at booth No. 126 – Karat’s Brilliant Black Minds booth. For the first time, Brilliant Black Minds sponsored and attended the NSBE 2023 conference. We hired Joel to capture portraits of as many Black developers as possible for one reason – to showcase that the pipeline of Black talent in tech is bursting with brilliant minds ready to hire.

Real Connections, Real Impact

Karat has been providing practice interviews since our early years as a company, and in 2022 we launched Brilliant Black Minds to provide virtual practice interviews, workshops and 1:1 mentoring sessions for Black software developers. This was our first time engaging with members of our Brilliant Black network in person.

Among those we connected with was Emmanuel Sylvester, who traveled from New York City to attend the NSBE conference in hopes of broadening his network. Sylvester, a former Twitter software engineer and member of Brilliant Black Minds, has had multiple practice technical interviews and qualified for opportunities at our Partners of Brilliance . He was excited to share with us how our expert support has helped him build his career.

Emmanuel Sylvester, Brilliant Black Minds  candidate

Similarly, President of the NSBE chapter at Boston University, Mya Turner, expressed her gratitude to our program. She let us know how our coaching and support helped  land her a new position at Netflix as a graduate software engineer.

“The coding interview process is one of the primary barriers to entry for qualified Black talent, ” said Crystal Moore, Vice President of Karat’s Brilliant Black Minds program. “Critical information, such as what a technical interview is and how to prepare for one, isn’t easily accessible for underrepresented talent.”

Our program offers free coding interview practice with feedback and coaching for current and aspiring Black developers. Our Partners of Brilliance (Citi, Amazon Prime Video, Duolingo, Flatiron Health, and Indeed) benefit from our blind, predictive and fair interviewing process by receiving prescreened recommendations for their open software engineering positions. By partnering with us, companies can quickly find and hire the most talented Black software engineers, and developers can get the career support they need to successfully navigate the technical hiring process.

Throughout our conversations at NSBE, many students weren’t sure if a program like ours was legitimate, let alone offered for free.

“So what’s the catch,” asked one NSBE49 attendee as a colleague described the benefits of joining Brilliant Black Minds. It was a thrill to connect with attendees and reassure them that this program is free to join thanks to a strategic investment from Serena Williams.

Progressing Beyond the Harmful Myth

In spite of the presence of qualified Black talent at conferences like NSBE, Black STEM graduation rates, and the climbing success of our interview support system, the myth that there aren’t enough Black people applying for jobs in tech persists, creating measurable hindrances to nationwide economic advancement.

Bria Fassler, Incoming Apple Software Engineer

If nothing changes with the way that tech talent is hired, the wage gap created by the lack of Black access to tech roles is expected to grow in annual lost wages from $37.5 billion in 2023 to $51.3 billion by 2030, per this recent report from The McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility. Events like the NSBE conference won’t be as effective at disrupting this dismal trajectory unless the right solutions are implemented. Karat’s Access Gap For Black Engineers Report details that one of the leading causes for the lack of diversity among developers is bias in the interview and hiring process. Karat, the world’s largest interviewing company, launched Brilliant Black Minds to leverage our interviewing cloud for hiring equity; creating a new solution to an old problem.

We’ve watched as talented engineers learn, improve, and demonstrate their readiness for great jobs. By partnering with us, companies can easily source and hire the nation’s most talented Black software engineers while developers can get the career support they need to navigate the difficult technical hiring process.

Black, Gifted and Job Ready

Almost every thriving industry defends the lack of diversity in technical and leadership roles by claiming that there aren’t enough people of color, women, queer, or otherwise marginalized talent applying for open roles. The U.S. tech industry is no exception. Our gallery of brilliant Black developers represents only a fraction of our ready-to-hire network. It’s just a glimpse of what the future of tech looks like, and there’s plenty more to come.

We’re actively seeking new Partners of Brilliance who share our commitment to closing the access gap for Black people. Companies looking to hire qualified Black software developers are invited to connect with us and become a Partner of Brilliance. Are you a Black software engineer looking to sharpen your coding interviewing skills, join a network of other developers, and get exclusive career advancement opportunities? Join Brilliant Black Minds today.

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