When Tribaja founder Shannon Morales started her SaaS business — a digital platform employers can use to find diverse talent — four years ago, it was known as Echo Me Forward. But in the past year, she’s felt that the brand had grown since, and deserved an update.
By combining “tribe” and trabaja, the Spanish word for “work,” Tribaja is a name that reflects the business’ shift into a “community” of people with an interest in tech careers, including an active Slack group. She said she found that other recruiting platforms are built exclusively upon acquiring clients. Instead, she is focused on Tribaja’s development of that community before all else.
“It’s like this cycle or family that keeps giving back and I love the fact that we are built that way,” she told Technical.ly. “Once people get jobs as part of Tribaja, they stay” involved.
Tribaja also has support from local companies that participated in last year’s Philly Hires Black initiative to raise awareness for fair hiring practices. Following protests for racial equality and against police brutality, Morales organized the initiative for tech companies to pledge to hire more Black employees.
As a Black and Latinx woman, she felt Philly Hires Black had an important mission and wanted to create something that could promote even more inclusivity and simultaneously focus on BIPOC communities. Shifting Philly Hire Black’s momentum into Tribaja felt more manageable for Morales, who also recently stepped back from working on Stealth.ify, an app she created in April 2020 to track COVID-19 using public data.
Tribaja is now raising a seed round of funding. Meanwhile, the company’s Slack channel has grown to 2,200 since the fall. Morales attributes the growth in membership to Tribaja’s work in filling a particular niche and being accessible to the community in a digital way.
“There was a big gap in professionals being supported [while] transitioning to careers in tech,” she said. “People said you have to be technical. That can be overwhelming if it’s not a space you’re not accustomed to. Being a part of Tribaja, we get it. We give it to you in small doses and other professionals in community are where you are at. We focus on that ability to progress with people around you, as opposed to feeling you are not skilled enough to be in tech community. That can be almost intimidating.”
Tribaja also features a new talent directory for employers to recruit diverse jobseekers. Jobseekers are able to create job profiles for free and are asked questions that speak to their personal identity, emphasizing that they are more than their job titles or experience.
Each person who creates a job profile will also receive a free ticket to Tribaja’s virtual Diversitech Summit. From March 25 to 27, attendees can check out a beginner’s coding workshop and hear from business leaders such as Asif Sadiq, global head of diversity and inclusion at Adidas, and Julissa Prado, founder of Rizo’s Curls. Attendees can also learn how to interview and negotiate their salaries for tech jobs. No-code tools will be used for the workshop since they tend to be more accessible to new learners.
The Diversitech Summit’s timing is significant because as less resilient jobs have disappeared during the pandemic, Morales believes tech can help people thrive if they have an accessible entry point. She hopes the Diversitech Summit will support the work Tribaja does and provide information people need to attain jobs in tech, including those outside of software development or engineering.
“I can’t write code and don’t have the time to take on a new skill, but I’m an ecosystem builder in the tech and startup space,” she said. “It doesn’t mean that I’m coding, but that I know how to connect people. That’s something that people don’t think about.”Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
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