Tech has a diversity problem. Can an app for black professionals help?

The BYP Network is shining light on overlooked talent in certain industries.

Black professionals networking at BYP event

Meet and mingle event hosted by the BYP Network.

Photo Source: BYP Network media kit
  • The most underrepresented group in the tech industry is the black population, especially in technical and leadership roles.
  • The BYP Network is a new platform helping to shine light on talent that is too often overlooked in industries like tech.
  • The network currently has around 40,000 users and is projected to grow to 500,000 by 2021.


It's no secret that the tech industry has a diversity problem.

Within the largest tech companies, black and latino communities are conspicuously absent, with white and Asian men making up the majority of the industry. The most underrepresented group is the black population who make up 13% of the U.S. population. Tech companies have disproportionately low numbers of black employees, which is particularly highlighted in technical roles — the coders and engineers who power the companies. For instance, at Facebook only 1.5% of the technical roles are occupied by black workers, who only make up a total of 3.8% of all the company's employees. Google's stats are even worse. Only 3.3% of the tech giant's workforce is black and only 2.6% of the leadership roles are filled by black employees. Apple, Microsoft and Amazon show similar numbers.

Clearly, change is long overdue.

The BYP Network

Enter the Black Young Professional (BYP) Network, the new networking site on the block that is taking matters into its own hands to fill this void. Founded in 2016 by Kike Oniwinde, with a new app that launched this year, the BYP Network is helping shine light on talent that is too often overlooked.

"Companies say they can't find diverse talent or it doesn't exist, but we've proven to them that it does exist and that they're not looking hard enough," Oniwinde, a 27-year-old British Nigerian, said to Forbes.

Tonte Bo Douglas, a 28-year-old property manager and writer, heard about the BYP Network in 2016 through Twitter and attended one of its first networking events held in London.

"Being a black young professional myself I knew that this was a needed platform and I had to be apart of what was happening," he says. "I've met people that I've known for some years now through the BYP network which have translated for me in collaborations and even paid work which I've greatly appreciated."

Although it's been branded as LinkedIn for black professionals, the BYP Network has a few differences.

"I wouldn't say it's like LinkedIn per se, it has a bit of a Facebook feel to it, but really it's its own platform entirely," says Douglas. He explains that the app's interface feels like a forum with regular posts on the home page, with sections you can move to with their own "portals of content" such as groups.

Yana Binaev, a 29-year-old creative director and photographer, began using the platform during the summer of 2019, says that the BYP Network helps overlooked groups gain visibility in the job market.

"I think that BYP gives an opportunity to be seen to those that are coming from marginalized social groups and very often are not equally seen by the mainstream platforms such as LinkedIn," says Binaev.

One of the drawbacks to BYP as opposed to a more mainstreamed network like LinkedIn is that it isn't as well-established in professional communities, and not as many people are using it. But over time that could change. The BYP Network currently has around 40,000 users and is projected to grow to 500,000 by 2021. Right now it works with 60 other companies including Google, Facebook and Airbnb.

Connection and visibility matters

The incentive for tech companies to diversify exists, as does the talent. A large part of what's been lacking has been networking and visibility. By facilitating important connections between black professionals and highlighting the achievements of members of the black community, platforms like BYP can lead to increased black representation in industries like tech.

"It has been great to have access to seeing black people visibly in high level positions in their relative fields, which is motivating and inspiring for me in my career ambitions," says Douglas, who notes that in the past he noticed a lack of black people in the top positions of companies he worked for. "This can make it appear like there is an invisible glass ceiling for us where it doesn't matter how hard we work and what we achieve, certain top levels are out of reach for us."

When black professionals do get hired at tech companies they often find that their employers lack the tools and metrics to create an inclusive work environment where people from diverse backgrounds comfortable being authentic. By opening a network where black professionals can socialize and bond over shared work experiences, Binaev notes that BYP creates a necessary safe space to those who would have otherwise felt like the "odd one out."

Ending the racial disparity in tech and other industries will require a multidimensional approach that one company is unlikely to solve on its own. But by linking together hiring managers with black talent in the workforce and creating a space serving the collective black professional experience, the BYP Network is doing impactful work to enhance diversity in industries, like tech, that need to change.

Related Articles Around the Web

How New York's largest hospital system is predicting COVID-19 spikes

Northwell Health is using insights from website traffic to forecast COVID-19 hospitalizations two weeks in the future.

Credit: Getty Images
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The machine-learning algorithm works by analyzing the online behavior of visitors to the Northwell Health website and comparing that data to future COVID-19 hospitalizations.
  • The tool, which uses anonymized data, has so far predicted hospitalizations with an accuracy rate of 80 percent.
  • Machine-learning tools are helping health-care professionals worldwide better constrain and treat COVID-19.
Keep reading Show less

Listen: Scientists re-create voice of 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy

Scientists used CT scanning and 3D-printing technology to re-create the voice of Nesyamun, an ancient Egyptian priest.

Surprising Science
  • Scientists printed a 3D replica of the vocal tract of Nesyamun, an Egyptian priest whose mummified corpse has been on display in the UK for two centuries.
  • With the help of an electronic device, the reproduced voice is able to "speak" a vowel noise.
  • The team behind the "Voices of the Past" project suggest reproducing ancient voices could make museum experiences more dynamic.
Keep reading Show less

Dark matter axions possibly found near Magnificent 7 neutron stars

A new study proposes mysterious axions may be found in X-rays coming from a cluster of neutron stars.

A rendering of the XMM-Newton (X-ray multi-mirror mission) space telescope.

Credit: D. Ducros; ESA/XMM-Newton, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
Surprising Science
  • A study led by Berkeley Lab suggests axions may be present near neutron stars known as the Magnificent Seven.
  • The axions, theorized fundamental particles, could be found in the high-energy X-rays emitted from the stars.
  • Axions have yet to be observed directly and may be responsible for the elusive dark matter.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Put on a happy face? “Deep acting” associated with improved work life

    New research suggests you can't fake your emotional state to improve your work life — you have to feel it.

    Credit: Columbia Pictures
    Personal Growth
  • Deep acting is the work strategy of regulating your emotions to match a desired state.
  • New research suggests that deep acting reduces fatigue, improves trust, and advances goal progress over other regulation strategies.
  • Further research suggests learning to attune our emotions for deep acting is a beneficial work-life strategy.
  • Keep reading Show less
    Surprising Science

    World's oldest work of art found in a hidden Indonesian valley

    Archaeologists discover a cave painting of a wild pig that is now the world's oldest dated work of representational art.

    Scroll down to load more…
    Quantcast