Building a bridge to more inclusion
There are 17,000 tech startups in Georgia. But only 1% of them are Black-founded or -led. And while Black people make up 32% of the overall workforce in the state, in the tech sector, that share drops to just 23%.
Looking at these numbers, TAG – the Technology Association of Georgia – set out to tackle these and other disparities by doubling down on its diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives. TAG established a singular, overarching target of advancing 1,000 Black people in technology careers over the next five years.
A bold goal – but how do you go about making that a reality? How do you harness public opinion, member support and funding to achieve it?
With marketing, of course – specifically, product marketing. Products, services, events, experiences and even movements all live or die by how they are brought to market. And for help doing that, TAG partnered with Arketi Group to shape the new program – from naming and messaging all the way to launch and awareness-building.
Led by Vice President Judson Phillips, our product marketing practice provides B2B technology companies with product marketing strategy, solution positioning and messaging, sales enablement, content development and optimal go-to-market execution.
Developing the mission
In 2021, TAG conducted a study to understand where it could have a meaningful impact supporting DE&I within Georgia’s technology ecosystem. The research identified areas where the state was lagging, notably:
- Just 1% of Georgia’s 17,000+ technology startups are Black-founded or Black-led.
- Less than 8% of managers in technology companies are Black people.
- Black people comprise 32% of the overall workforce in Georgia, but only 23% of tech employees.
There were many other relevant disparities, of course, but to start with, TAG decided to prioritize Black and Brown technology entrepreneurs – not to exclude other groups or minorities, but to maximize the effectiveness of its efforts and then apply the lessons learned to future DE&I initiatives.
Specifically, TAG set out to advance 1,000 Black people in technology careers over the next five years.
Unearthing a name, position, message and brand
With its mission established, TAG needed to bring the program to life, so it could secure funding and support from members. Arketi stepped in to provide product marketing expertise and develop a compelling name, message and product-driven launch strategy.
Our first task was to combine TAG’s research with a comprehensive analysis of similar initiatives nationwide. We paid particular attention to efforts associated with Georgia-based Fortune 500 companies to ensure TAG’s program was clearly differentiated. We also established criteria to tailor the program’s name and positioning for TAG’s business-minded, technology-centric audience.
Applying Arketi’s proven process, we provided TAG with several potential names and supporting position statements. After pressure-testing with select TAG members, we settled on a winner: Bridge Builders.
Building out the brand was next. From TAG’s established brandmark, we evolved a related version for Bridge Builders – ensuring the program would be distinct, and distinctive, yet still a TAG property. Similarly, we elaborated the initial positioning into a compelling and captivating message intended to resonate with Bridge Builders’ stakeholders – grounded in the phrase, “We build too many walls and not enough bridges.”
We build too many walls and not enough bridges. Arketi is proud to be a founding member of the Technology Association of Georgia's Bridge Builders program to advance 1,000 Black people in technology careers over the next five years.
Program launch and activation
The team chose to launch Bridge Builders at TAG’s annual Georgia Technology Summit, a gathering of more than 1,000 technology executives and industry leaders. The event maximized visibility for Bridge Builders and created multiple opportunities for TAG leadership to address, discuss and socialize the program directly.
To this end, Arketi equipped TAG with content and sales tools to engage its membership with the program and generate buzz, both at the conference and beyond. Key among these was a snappy presentation deck that showcased the research, outlined the program’s goals and objectives, and explained Bridge Builders’ purpose and work. Of course, the TAG website was also updated with a dedicated Bridge Builders landing page, replete with messaging, graphics and calls-to-action.
Nurturing Black tech talent
Since launching Bridge Builders at the Georgia Technology Summit, and with no external promotion or engagement, TAG has raised more than $200,000 from existing sponsors and members – doubling the initial funding goal of $100,000.
This enabled TAG to hire its first full-time staffer for Bridge Builders, Dr. Loretta Daniels, who was appointed director. A former c-suite executive and expert in organizational leadership, Dr. Daniels will translate Bridge Builders’ mission into actionable strategies and tactics to achieve its goal of advancing 1,000 Black technology professionals.
Arketi’s product marketing on behalf of Bridge Builders also resulted in an op-ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution co-authored by TAG CEO Larry Williams and Michael Sullivan, co-chair of TAG's Social Justice & Equity Task Force. The article, “Why Georgia needs to promote Black tech talent,” sheds much-needed light on the importance of nurturing Black tech talent in Georgia.
TAG and Arketi continue to activate and evangelize Bridge Builders. The program has since launched externally with a growing social media presence, multiple media opportunities and the first event in its Bridge Builders’ Connect series, which gives Black entrepreneurs the opportunity to present their businesses and solution to blue-chip prospects and customers.