A national organization focused on Black women and Black men in the technology industry now has a home in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.
Jesus Vidaurri, a talent acquisition partner for an area technology company, launched the Blacks In Technology-Central Florida chapter a few months ago. The group has approximately 50 to 60 members and is growing steadily. His goal is to get 100 additional members by the end of the year.
The focus of the group is to create a diverse workforce and a community for individuals to have a safe place for conversations, as well as to help each other grow in their networks, said Vidaurri, who is acting chapter president. “This pertains specifically to the Black affinity group, however, it’s not exclusive to Black African American individuals. It’s for allies as well, those who seek to bring up an affinity group that for a long time has been under-represented in corporate America and more specifically in the technology sector.”
Vidaurri said he himself does not physically identify as Black. “But my wife and my future children will be. I tell folks all the time that you don’t have to be born into the community to want to be part of it,” he said.
Vidaurri said he is passionate about the tech sector and hiring the right people into it. He reached out to last year to Blacks In Technology, a national nonprofit with chapters across the United States, mostly in larger metro areas.
“We made the pitch to the national organization to start a chapter in Florida. They had initial conversations with other folks across the region, like Miami and Orlando, but there wasn’t enough traction there,” Vidaurri said. “We sold them on the fact of where Tampa is right now and where we see it going from a tech perspective. There are a lot of organizations here focusing on startup incubators and accelerators, a lot of growth in the technology sector, and a lot of businesses that have moved here, like Johnson & Jonson and Amgen. There are a lot of companies that have started to plant roots here in the Tampa Bay area. A combination of all of those key aspects convinced the national team to allow us to start a chapter here in Tampa.”
He’s working to get the message out to the startup community, corporate organizations, educational institutions including universities, local governments, economic development corporations, Chambers and other groups with an interest in diversity and technology.
Conversations about inclusion in the workplace are not new, but the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis and the increased focus on Black Lives Mater that resulted from that, has underlined the importance of the mission of Blacks In Technology, Vidaurri said.
“For those [companies] that weren’t having the conversation, they’re starting to have it now. For the ones that have already had it, are they doing anything differently. Are we changing how we do our hiring, how we engage with the community,” he said. “For Blacks In Technology, I don’t think the mission has changed. I think it’s given us more of a purpose to drive the growth of the organization. It’s important now more than ever and people are curious as to how they can become an ally to this affinity group.”
For now, the group is focused on virtual meetings and delivering meaningful content through the virtual platform.
“Everything is very volatile in terms of our current climate in the U.S. It’s a critical point in this organization’s time to put out meaningful content. It’s not just about the events or programming but also sharing articles and information and resources,” he said.
“Recently we promoted on our Facebook page, Tampa Bay Tech’s Virtual Career Fair. It’s things like this that are meaningful for the community. It’s not just about hosting an event or having face time with people, but it’s about making sure they have the resources they need to truly make an impact and be a part of the whole tech community.”
Below are social media links and the meetup page link for Blacks In Technology-Central Florida.