Last week I was thrilled to attend BFUTR 2022, presented by TD and curated by the Black Professionals Technical Network. Accompanied by my colleague Hildah Juma, we were there to represent the Black Talent Initiative and support our friends at BTPN. 

The summit did not disappoint. 

Lekan Olawoye: Founder & CEO of BPTN, summed it up in one sentence when he talked about how TD “Bet on Black” when they came on board as his Title Sponsor. Indeed TD and a host of other tech-driven companies have wagered that our community is an essential cohort for them to curate. If some organizations didn’t understand this paradigm before this summit, Lekan and high energy host Nkechi Nwafor Robinson ensured they did. 

My favourite panel of the conference featured Searit Huluf from Pixar, Franella Ngaboh-Smart from Tik Tok, Shontay Lundy from Black Girl Sunscreen and moderator Sonia Oblitey from OkCupid. I admire how each panellist exhibited courage and ferocity to succeed. The critical moral of their individual stories was that the past few years have made them more fearless and less worried about how others interpret them. I support their collective maxim that by prioritizing what they need as individuals, they can better impact society. 

Mina McCullom, President & CEO of SynEnergy, was the motivational spark of the day, which we all needed late Friday afternoon. She called on the audience and, more importantly, brands to celebrate the achievement of Black engineers and not just constantly tout Black athletes in media. Her powerful message makes so much sense. If we celebrate Black success, it will produce Black success.

“Black is the new Black in Product Development” featured Intuit Product Development guru Shani Boston. She shared some startling facts, including that the US government’s Paycheck Protection Program paid Black-owned firms 50% less than white-owned firms of the exact specification. Knowing the challenges of Black entrepreneurs helps Shani lead innovations that will help them with their most crucial issues. Efforts like Shani’s and Intuit’s are significant as we know that without actual ecosystem change, society will never conquer systemic racism.

Betting on Black is not just for corporations, governments, or white allies. It is something any organization or individual can do today. 

Thank you, Lekan and BPTN for doubling down Black.

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