Black History Month is a celebration of the achievements and history of the members of the African Diaspora. There is a long history of innovation and courage in our history that often does not get the same time in the spotlight as other historical figures
Black History Month in the US has its roots in the 1920s, when historian Carter Woodson created “Negro History Week”. He believed that preserving the stories of our history was key to survival and intellectual development, famously writing “if a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”
Later on, members of the Black United Students group at Kent State University worked to expand Negro History Week into Black History Month, which was first celebrated in February of 1970. The celebration caught on quickly, and Black History Month was officially recognized by President Carter during the 1976 US Bicentennial. Since then, it has inspired many celebrations such as Women’s History Month, LGBT Pride Month, and LatinX Heritage Month; BHM has also expanded internationally, and is now celebrated in Canada, the UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands.
At Twilio, we believe in sharing and celebrating the diverse range of our experiences and our stories. While our history is still being written, we can look to the present and the future of our community as we create a legacy we can be proud of. Today, we’d like to take the opportunity to celebrate our own up and coming leaders in the community and give a voice to their unique perspectives on tech.
UX Research Coordinator
"My experience working in tech has been very positive for the most part! Of course, as a black woman, I experience the workplace different than most people, but I’ve really learned a lot about myself in the process. I’ve learned how to deal with hard situations, I’ve learned how to be an ally for others and I’ve learned how to step up and speak out against injustices. I am grateful that Twilio and SendGrid both have provided a place for me to grow as a black woman in tech because I know I’ll carry what I’ve learned here throughout the rest of my life."
"I am lucky to be part of a company and a team that truly makes me feel valued for my contributions and ideas. Before I joined the team, I was very impressed by the commitments to D&I that Twilio spoke about. Now, I have greater respect for how leaders are always ready to listen, learn and make their best efforts to get better. I have seen many companies that treat Diversity and Inclusion as a marketing exercise. However, I can honestly say that at Twilio, the commitment to creating a feeling of belonging is part of the very fabric of this company."
Sr. Business Development Representative
"My first exposure to the Technology industry was working as a Sales Development Rep (SDR) for a B2B VOIP company. Initially, it was quite overwhelming learning the ins and outs of a PBX system, SIP Trunking, number masking, and more, but it was a great foundation to help kick off my career at Twilio.
During my first interview with Twilio's Global Sales Dev Leader, Patrick Buckley, he told me, 'It isn't about not being afraid, it's about not allowing the fear to overcome you so much so that you don't act.' This conversation set the tone for my motivation and drive to work here at Twilio: I had to make the conscientious decision to not let my fear hold me back from being the best sales woman/person I knew I could be.
The Tech industry can be an intimidating landscape for some to break into, especially those who identify with underrepresented populations (URPs) or come from non-traditional backgrounds. At Twilio, I am empowered to 'Draw the Owl' in my work and my career and it is my personal goal to forge the path for URPs in our sales organization. I believe Twilio will continue to strive to be a leader in its efforts of creating a diverse inclusive culture and, set the standard for all companies in tech."
Technical Program Manager
"I have been working in technology for nearly 10 years. I’ve worked in various roles across different industries, and if I had to sum up my personal work experience into one word, I’d quickly choose the word: wonder. From my experience working in the telecommunications industry to tech startup, then financial tech consulting and now Twilio, I’ve always entered rooms not expecting to see anyone that looked like me. I’ve grown comfortable in these regular occurrences. In most cases, I can confidently say I never felt as if I was treated differently and thankfully, I’ve never experienced overt racism in the workplace. It’s the unconscious biases that has always been at the back of my mind. Whether it’s the passive comment of a co-worker or customer, being overlooked for an expectant promotion, or the blatant disregard of my opinion in team meetings, I’m led to wonder. From me, it’s the wonder that can wear on you as you start to question your own value in the workplace. Am I just a diversity hire? And do I really belong here?"
"I’m a software engineer on Twilio’s Payments team, which processes transactions and charge customers for their usage of our products. Working on payments has given me many opportunities to take ownership over important work that affects the whole company and enables users to use Twilio services more reliably and be billed accurately. I have smart teammates who care about their work and it’s been a very supportive environment for me in my first year in workforce post-graduation. Of course, software engineering is not a field renowned for diversity, but I’d definitely advise anyone who is still figuring out their career path to consider working in software even if your background is not traditionally represented in the field."
Senior Software Engineer
"Working in tech has been a challenging but most rewarding experience. A mobile-first approach in my work has afforded me the opportunity to impact real people's lives, as it lowers the barrier of entry for billions around the world, opening them to opportunities and knowledge in a timely manner, and enabling them to make informed decisions. From enabling farmers to decide which seed varieties to plant, to granting small business owners reach to their clients and writing code to help identify counterfeit drugs, get national examination results and gain access to emergency airtime in the middle of the ocean - I feel very grateful for the journey that my tech career has put me on."
Manager, Agile Program Managers
"I've only been with Twilio for five months, but I am excited about the opportunity to Scale Agile across the company. I work with a great team committed to delivering the industry's leading Marketing Platform. The company's commitment to inclusion, from the CEO down, exceeds what I've experienced at previous employers. Although we still have a journey ahead, leadership has established the vision and goals for inclusion to be one of the company's top priorities."
Software Engineer 1 (Platform Engineering)
"Prior to working at Twilio I worked in biotech as a Lab Automation Engineer. I got my degree in Biology, but I found myself enjoying working on the projects that involved writing small Python scripts at my first job. That plus the encouragement/ support from the SWE's at my job made me want to enter this field even more. This lead me to take the plunge and enroll in a coding bootcamp. Shortly after graduating I landed my first engineering job as an Apprentice in the Hatch program. A little over a year later after completing the bootcamp I am now a full time Software Engineer at Twilio doing front-end work and it's the best career move I have made so far."