The BLK Men in Tech THRIVE Conference provided empowering advice and inspiration for Black professionals and allies.

We recently had the privilege of sponsoring the annual THRIVE Conference organized by BLK Men in Tech as a part of our Recharge Cares program. The weekend was packed with exceptional opportunities to learn and make meaningful connections. While there were too many lessons to recount in a single blog post, here are four key takeaways we had from the event:

1. Allies in action

One prominent theme throughout the weekend revolved around the essential role of allies in fostering opportunities and support for underrepresented groups. During a panel discussion titled, “Transformational Leadership: Allies in Action,” our VP of People, William West, shared valuable insights about what allyship means and how it manifests at Recharge. 

Genuine allyship transcends being merely a label; it requires a continuous commitment to action. Effective allies must focus on taking deliberate, small steps to open doors in areas where talent exists but access has been limited. 

The panel also underscored the importance of building authentic relationships with our Black colleagues. It is fundamental for allies to gain an understanding of who they are, their unique needs, and cultivate a foundation of genuine empathy and respect. Allies should focus on forming meaningful connections that can drive lasting and impactful change.

2. Mental health matters

One of the conference’s most impactful sessions was a transparent and vulnerable discussion on mental health. The pressures of balancing multiple roles, from career responsibilities to family life, can accumulate over time and pose significant challenges. Without adequate support, the healthy processing of emotions can become a daunting task.

The panel illuminated that many individuals within the Black community, especially men, often lack the language and tools to openly address mental health concerns, which unfortunately remain stigmatized. The first step involves acquiring the vocabulary to articulate emotional needs, followed by the essential task of finding a supportive community. 

The session offered valuable recommendations, including meditation, therapy, setting healthy boundaries, engaging in physical activity, and drawing strength from the people in one’s life, all as crucial tools to fortify mental well-being.

3. Entrepreneurship & wealth building

Another prominent theme that resonated throughout various sessions was the idea of taking control of one’s career and future financial prospects. Two compelling reasons drove this focus:

  1. Rather than waiting for opportunities, entrepreneurship is a lucrative pathway for individuals to forge their own destinies and establish equitable systems.
  2. Entrepreneurship and the creation of multiple income streams are not just means to personal success but also methods for building generational wealth, a concept historically less accessible to this demographic.

Panelists emphasized the significance of effective networking to connect with potential backers and partners, as well as the cultivation of a robust personal brand. They advised taking the initial steps in fundraising with family and friends, with a reminder that if they don’t believe in your vision, it might be an opportunity to refine your pitch. 

The sessions also provided invaluable guidance on startup funding options, the establishment of business entities, the allocation of company shares, and board member selection. Success requires meticulous planning and the support of fellow entrepreneurs who have paved the way.

4. Networking & community

Throughout the conference, several sessions dedicated significant attention to the art of growing and nurturing professional and personal networks. Panelists emphasized the importance of fostering authentic connections and shared interests, as opposed to cultivating purely transactional relationships. In other words, the emphasis was on building meaningful, reciprocal relationships rather than merely seeking out connections for immediate personal gain.

The key to creating a robust network lies in the principle of exchanging mutual value. Panelists encouraged attendees to contribute to their network by sharing their knowledge, experiences, and insights, instead of solely approaching relationships with requests for introductions, job referrals, or support.

It’s important to understand that building a strong network is a long-term endeavor that demands time, dedication, and careful cultivation. An expansive network yields numerous benefits, including opportunities for mentorship, potential partnerships, and access to new roles and experiences. It also provides an avenue for giving back. As you benefit from the doors and opportunities opened by others in your network, it’s equally important to consider how you can pay it forward and create pathways for the growth and success of others.

Taking our lessons back to Recharge 

The BLK Men in Tech THRIVE Conference provided empowering advice and inspiration for Black professionals and allies. As we return to our roles at Recharge, we are filled with gratitude for the lessons we have learned and eager to embrace and share those learnings with the company and our communities, fueled by a shared commitment to thrive together.