As stated in the Presidential Proclamation, “Each February, National Black History Month serves as both a celebration and a powerful reminder that Black history is American history, Black culture is American culture, and Black stories are essential to the ongoing story of America — our faults, our struggles, our progress, and our aspirations. Shining a light on Black history today is as important to understanding ourselves and growing stronger as a Nation as it has ever been. That is why it is essential that we take time to celebrate the immeasurable contributions of Black Americans, honor the legacies and achievements of generations past, reckon with centuries of injustice, and confront those injustices that still fester today.”
Notarize is very proud to celebrate Black History Month this February with the help of our own employees who are sharing their experiences as Black Americans working in tech.
Here is what Katrice Gerald, Human Resources Business Partner, has to say about her experiences and where there's opportunity for improvement in equality in the tech industry.
Katrice was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated from Southern New Hampshire University, and is currently the Human Resources Business Partner at Notarize. Katrice is passionate about creating dynamic, inclusive and genuine employee experiences. She is a wife and mother of two, and she loves all things Beyonce.
My experience as a Black woman in tech has been an interesting one. On one hand, I have experienced moments of empowerment and the ability to help cultivate cultures that are inclusive and welcoming, while also having had the experience of feeling pushed out and seen as “difficult” for vigorously wanting to see changes made that some felt at the time were perhaps too progressive or unnecessary.
Getting into HR is difficult in any industry but in tech it feels nearly impossible. It feels great to be a Black woman in tech working within an HR capacity where cultures and environments are very different. Having the flexibility to help define and cultivate cultures from this position has been some of the most rewarding work I have ever done.
Black History Month is not just a time of somber reflection to glance over black and white images of a people's collective struggle or to quote great speeches and memorable phrases to make ourselves feel better about a past we still have yet to reconcile. Black History is very present. It is now. It is in the mundane work we do that we may not realize makes a difference. It's in the small barriers we break down, that pave the way for others to have it just a bit easier after us. It is putting ourselves out there to be vulnerable, to be bold, to be fierce and get things done in the name of all that is just.
In most tech companies, there is a very visible lack of Black leaders at the executive level. As my network continues to expand, it is my goal to help attract as many Black executive leaders as possible. In the tech space specifically, I would also love to see more Black engineers, developers and product managers. Diversity in these areas is invaluable to creating products, programs and services that address the unique needs of our communities.
First and foremost, everyone should educate themselves on Black History Month. There are a ton of resources out there, but this article on History.com is a good start. There are so many ways that people can support. I actually just wrote a post on LinkedIn on some of the ways that people can honor and celebrate Black History Month (both during February, and beyond). Find out more here!