Striving Toward a Culture of Representation and an Adobe For All
In May 2015, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) launched TECH 2020 – a five-year initiative to increase African American inclusion at all levels of the technology industry, from executives and developers to vendors, contractors and investors. With an estimated 1.4 million new tech industry jobs becoming available by 2020 and a growing need for qualified applicants, the CBC Diversity Task Force, led by CBC Chairman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) and Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13), conceived TECH 2020 to push for greater transparency, education, corporate investment and hiring and retention of African American professionals in tech.
Inspired by TECH 2020 and the opportunity to increase inclusivity in tech, I worked with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to help transform Historically Black College and University (HBCU) campuses into STEM hubs that foster innovation and significantly increased the number of African American graduates pursuing STEM careers. Today, in my current role as diversity and inclusion talent manager at Adobe, I drive strategies to attract diverse talent in this critical sector of our economy. And today, one fact remains true – representation matters!
Celebrating a legacy of boundless possibilities
My desire to see people like me represented at all levels of the tech sector drove my work at UNCF, continues to drive my passions in my current role at Adobe and is a prevailing reason I recently spent a week attending the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.
The CBCF Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) is the leading policy conference on issues impacting the Black community. More than 10,000 thought leaders, elected officials, journalists and citizen activists attend CBCF ALC to engage in fellowship and dialogue on economic empowerment, professional development and education issues from the Black perspective. This year’s theme, “400 Years: Our Legacy, Our Possibilities,” celebrated the centuries of progress and innovation brought forth by African American leaders and helped shine a light on ongoing efforts to bring parity and greater representation across all sectors.
I’ve attended CBCF ALC events before, but this year’s conference marked a major personal milestone. This year, I had the privilege of representing Adobe at TECHWork 2020 – an innovative networking event where Black employees from leading technology companies served as a “Table Coaches” to discuss our experiences and share insights on how to break into the industry as a person of color. What struck me, in particular, was that table attendees had a perception that you need a technical degree to work in tech, when that’s certainly not the case for all positions. One attendee commented, “I was extremely excited to hear that you don’t need a technical, computer science or engineering degree at companies like Adobe and that my background in finance can be applicable to career opportunities.”
In another impactful moment, I had the honor of presenting a $15,000 scholarship on behalf of Adobe to Advancing Minorities in Engineering (AME), a non-profit organization that helps foster partnerships between industry, government and universities that strive to achieve greater representation of people of color in the workforce. The scholarship, which I presented during the Salute to the Power of Diverse Innovation event, will support an inspiring group of women from the top 15 HBCU engineering schools. Those women remind me of the students I challenged to embrace their own excellence during my days at UNCF and are the faces I look forward to one day seeing as colleagues in Silicon Valley.
Living our purpose: Adobe For All
Attending this year’s CBCF ALC helped reaffirm why it’s so important leaders like Rep. Butterfield and Rep. Lee fight for greater representation in the industry.
It also reaffirms why I’m proud to belong to a company like Adobe that shows up year-round to champion inclusion and representation at all levels. Highlights of the important work we do to champion inclusion and representation in the industry include:
- HBCU Partnership Challenge – The Challenge, launched in 2017 by the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus, brings together government, industry and HBCUs to create sustainable HBCU partnerships. Through this challenge, we have made a public pledge to ensure HBCUs and their students are a part of our recruitment and hiring efforts.
- Afrotech – Adobe is a proud partner of Afrotech – an annual groundbreaking experience that convenes Black techies, startups and entrepreneurs a 360-degree look at how culture, innovation and tech run the world.
- National GEM Consortium Partnership – Adobe supports the National GEM Consortium, a Virginia-based nonprofit that works in partnership with corporations, government labs and academic institutions to offer graduate fellowships and internships in STEM fields to students from underrepresented communities.
- Adobe Digital’s Academy program – The program offers career switchers the education and experience they need to launch successful careers in user experience (UX) design, data science, and web development through a two- part apprenticeship program.
At Adobe, we believe that when people feel respected and included, they can be more creative, innovative and successful. We know we have work still to do in order to advance diversity and inclusion within our company and to achieve full representation within the industry. We can’t have diverse innovations if we don’t have a diverse culture.
That’s why we’re investing to move our company and industry forward. That’s why we’re working harder day in and day out to live our purpose – Adobe For All.