Disrupt Indy: What Diversity and Inclusion in Tech SHOULD Look Like

This is a guest post by Tyler Lawrence and Destiny Loyd.

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Before I say anything else, two things: I am so thankful that Black Tech Unplugged entrusted me with obtaining live coverage of this magnificent techie experience. And also, my life has been changed, forever. I am still struggling to truly find the right words that will properly recreate the experience shared, in Indianapolis, just last week. Having taken note of the lack of diversity in technical work spaces and the blatant lack or misrepresentation of inclusion for POC and other minority groups, Be Nimble Co., a tech organization founded by Indianapolis natives Kelli Jones and Jeff Williams, brought about what I believe to be the premier tech summit of our time: Disrupt Indy.

The conference focused solely on bridging the gaps between tech startups, corporations and capable employees with colorful backgrounds. The summit took place over a two day span, with a VIP social mixer prior to opening day. Here is what I loved most about the mixer experience, which led me to believe that this was not only the best tech event I’d ever attend to date, but also that the people in the room genuinely wanted to share and connect with one another!
When I walked into the ballroom at The Alexander, there was not a single person unengaged with someone who did NOT look like them. Yes, you read right. In this year 2017, where our “president” is a joke and racial bias has seemed to perpetuate every sector of our lives, offices, and communities, I witnessed pure, jubilant networking and the exchange of resources amongst, dare I repeat it, a diversely inclusive crowd! It was beautiful! For an adult seeking creative liberty in their profession, this was the equivalent of being a young kid in the candy store. Not because of the appetizers (which were mouth watering) or the drinks which were generous. It was the energy that made this room of strangers feel like long time friends catching. There were White CEOs talking to Black, Brown, LGBTQ entrepreneurs, professionals, aspirants, and more!

The Be Nimble founders briefly took to the mic, to welcome and thank all participants and attendees for showing up and sharing our wealth and knowledge. 

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Ah, yall, this was the best visual of “America the melting pot” as could ever be drawn. My colleague Destiny Loyd and I circled the room, exchanging smiles, aspirations, projects in the works, and contact information with some of the most prominent tech professionals in the midwest or nation, arguably. For the next two days of the actual summit, I relied on Destiny to get the real inside scoop while I worked and she did not disappoint. The tips and tools she shared via the Black Tech Unplugged social media have absolutely helped me level up my career. Here is what Destiny had to say of her experience:

“This conference was refreshing, to say the least. It made my little chocolate heart melt seeing all the Black and Brown women and men in positions of power or stature, speaking so confidently, eloquently and at the same time remaining relatable. The first workshop that I attended was the opener with Angela Smith Jones . Her energy was transferable, but her talk was even more invigorating than that! Everything was backed up by eye opening stats and facts. Angela set the tone and energy for the conference.

The lunch panel featured Fabian Elliott of Black Tech Mecca and Felecia Hatcher of Black Tech Week. These two were awesome! I loved the candidness about Felecia. She touched on a lot of taboo topics that the Black household doesn’t talk about, like actually NOT going to college and opting for a trade. Fabian was awesome as well, providing that data driven introspect that gave context and validation.

The next workshop was with SticksnLeaves CEO, Yaw Aning. Yaw’s workshop was really REALLY good. A young man with a grasp on what it’s like to be a minority start up owner at the peaks as well as the valleys. The child of immigrants, Yaw explained the things he grew up hearing, and not feeling like he fit in with any specific group or race. He talked about diversifying the workforce as a practice of business, not only as a human/moral responsibility. If you have an audience of various types and backgrounds, it’d behoove you to have a team that represents that diversity. One thing that stood out was ‘you cannot mimic perspective’. This is HUGE in marketing! You can’t have a group of 40 yr old White males marketing a product to 18 Black females. It’s not realistic and it will tank your product.”

*Inserts finger snaps* because that last line was golden! Destiny adds.

“There was so much to talk about at the conference; I’m mad I didn’t have three sets of ears to sit in on all the workshops as they went on simultaneously. I appreciated the fact that the recruiters stuck around for the actual conference and met with attendees on a more personal evel. That sort of interaction we couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. I know this for a fact!”

We cannot make this up! Disrupt Indy is about to disrupt the entire tech force, with their innovative approach to making sure EVERYONE knows there is room for them, at the table. It is more than apparent that this conference is just a tip of the iceberg to the type of opportunity soon available amongst midwest tech professionals, and we have Be Nimble to thank for gniting the fire.

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