In July 2020, in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, we launched our Diversity in Tech Sales initiative in partnership with Blacks on Wall Street (BOWS = a non-profit organization whose mission is to close the professional opportunity gap by providing underrepresented youth with the resources to achieve promising careers). Instead of simply making a corporate statement, we wanted to influence long term change within the industry we know and love – Enterprise Software.
However, according to a recent report by Silicon Valley Bank, 57% of start-ups in US, UK & Canada do not have a diversity program for promotion and hiring goals.
So the question was: how can we best address the lack of representation in the SaaS space?
Through conversations internally, with clients, and with the BOWS team, we determined that the best way to have a substantive impact was to offer a simple PRO BONO program that educates high-potential graduates on careers in tech sales, and introduces them to SaaS startups who struggle to create a diverse workforce.
Why pro bono? Most startups don’t have the finances to make a significant investment on internal diversity initiatives or external hiring partners, so by offering our services at no cost, we minimize the barriers to entry.
However, where possible, we have encouraged hiring companies to make donations to BOWS to further their initiatives in the US.
How has the Diversity in Tech Sales Program evolved?
Since it was conceived, we have developed 3 ways of influencing change:
1. Partnering with Colleges across the US, we identify and then work 1-1 with underrepresented graduates to:
- Educate and encourage them to consider a career in tech sales
- Introduce them to potential roles/companies
- Help them navigate the application and selection process.
There is a long term, lasting impact; even if we don’t place them, coaching and mentoring is still available to help them find and secure future roles within the industry.
2. With clients, we educate on the benefits of a diverse team and challenge them to measure and share their stats, as well as actively work towards improving them.
By introducing candidates that they would otherwise not have attracted, we ensure a diverse candidate pool, and continue to add the usual value of external hiring partner.
3.We engage with universities, professional bodies etc. to take part in webinars on EDI.
We provide collateral, guidance and templates for clients about diversity within the SaaS space.
High Growth Startups & Esteemed US Colleges That We Partner With:
So far we have actively worked with 9 scale-ups, including:
- Snowflake, cloud data warehouse-as-a-service. (the biggest software IPO ever)
- BRYTER, leading no-code service automation platform. ($66m Series C backed by Accel & Tiger Global)
- Split.io, a feature delivery platform for engineering teams. ($50m Series D backed by Owl Capital & Lightspeed Ventures)
- Matillion, cloud-native data integration and transformation platform. ($150m Series E backed by General Atlantic, Lightspeed Ventures)
The scheme has resonated strongly with almost all the companies we have discussed it with. Out of the start-ups that have engaged with the initiative 60% are solely pro-bono relationships.
Additionally, we’ve partnered with 18 colleges and universities in North America through our initiatives. Including prestigious colleges such as MIT, NYU and Le Moyne.
Hear from Our Success Stories:
Over the course of the last year, we have supported 22 diverse unemployed or underemployed students as they take their first steps within an enterprise software sales career. These include:
Gabriel King, is a former UC Berkeley student-Athlete (American Football) who is passionate about SaaS Sales and its widespread influence. We introduced Gabe to Split in December 2020, and he began his career in the SaaS industry as an SDR in January 2021. After a successful first year at Split, Gabe has recently secured a position as a Strategic Business Development Rep at the workforce incentive SaaS vendor CaptivateIQ.
Maurice Epps, graduated Stony Brook University in New York with a bachelors degree in Psychology. We met Maurice through his existing relationship with Damani Corbin and placed him as one of the first Enterprise Business Development Representatives at BRYTER. Similarly to Gabe, Maurice has taken further steps into his software sales career by moving into a Business Development role at Frontify, another one of our Diversity partners.