Niani Tolbert has always loved bringing people together.
So when the marketer-turned-tech recruiter was furloughed at the beginning of the pandemic, she pivoted. “I started to think of ways to connect people and empower them digitally,” says Tolbert. That passion — and a viral LinkedIn post — led Tolbert to found #HIREBLACK, an initiative dedicated to advancing the careers of Black women.
Since last June, #HIREBLACK has grown into a network of some 6,000 people, more than 100 of whom have been hired through the initiative. Read on to learn more about the work this Industrious SoHo West-based organization is doing.
What inspired you to found #HIREBLACK?
HIREBLACK started as a LinkedIn post asking for volunteers to help 19 Black womxn get resume feedback on Juneteenth. That post went viral and grew into an initiative with the goal of helping 10,000 Black womxn get trained, hired, or promoted.
Thanks to the support from our community and allies, we are now a network of 6,000 people and counting. We have a job board, where organizations looking to hire diverse talent can post open roles; a community portal, where members can connect and share resources; and LinkedIn Live sessions every Thursday at noon. Our partnership with 81cents gives one free compensation review to a #HIREBLACK community member each month.
What impact has #HIREBLACK had so far?
More than 100 womxn have been hired directly through the resources #HIREBLACK offers.
We hosted our first #HIREBLACK Summit [in the fall of 2020] to connect 300-plus [people] with recruiters at Amazon Devices, Conde Nast, Disney Advertising Sales, theSkimm, and Niantic, [and hosted] inspiring, authentic conversations and workshops around professional development.
We recently wrapped up our mentor matching sessions. We were able to match more than 300 Black womxn with career mentors based on industry and management experience! We partnered with Conde Nast, DoorDash, and Sony Music Entertainment along with recruiters at top companies to make this happen.
For Black Women’s Equal Pay Day (August 13th), we hosted a free webinar for more than 400 attendees on negotiation strategies We also made a Radically Transparent Salary Database: a crowd-sourced resource of 600-plus salaries and demographics shared anonymously to offer transparency and help womxn compare and understand our market rate.
Tell us about a piece of business advice that really resonates with you.
Sarah Kunst, Managing Director at Cleo Capital, once gave me a reality check as a woman in VC. She told me: “Niani, we don’t need another broke Black female activist.” I have a tendency to say yes to everyone but myself, so that made me realize that I should be compensated for the value that I bring to others. Everyone should be compensated for the work that they do.
How does your workplace inform what you do?
Your workplace informs your work through its community and culture. It is important to not only feel safe and accepted by the people you are surrounded by, but also to be inspired [by them].
A workplace that encourages collaboration, acceptance, and conversation is so important because it empowers people to bring their best selves.
We like to listen and participate in ongoing conversations around making the work environment more equitable and thus more empowering, and we highlight Black womxn within them.
What’s next for #HIREBLACK?
We are excited about our second annual #HIREBLACK Summit 2021 this October! [We’re also] planning on hosting intimate workshops and networking opportunities.
Keep in touch with us to hear more about our digital and IRL events on Instagram at @hireblacknow and via our website at hireblacknow.com. We’re also always offering advice and opportunities to connect via our (free) community portal at members.hireblacknow.com.