Inside Tech Hiring with Black Professionals with Kizito Egeonu
Kizito Egeonu is a Senior Mobile Engineer at Artsy whose Tech career started in Nigeria before he moved to Berlin and joined the German startup ecosystem.
He is experienced in various Tech industries: Medical Technology, FinTech, and Artificial Intelligence, to name just a few.
We reached out to Kizito to talk about his experiences working in Tech in Nigeria and Germany, and asked him to share some insights, suggestions, and advice to Black candidates looking for Tech roles, as well as hiring managers and recruiters who are interviewing candidates and making hiring decisions. You can find his responses to our questions below.
Acelr8: What is one way Tech companies can make their hiring process more welcoming & inclusive for members of the Black community?
Kizito: My one recommendation would be providing their job ad in more than one language (eg English + German). I don't know what the stats are, but many black people I know are not native German speakers.
Acelr8: What is one red flag/ one green flag Black candidates should be aware of when applying to a Tech role?
Kizito: Red Flag: Interviewers (or most importantly: the hiring manager) being patronising towards you. In these kind of environments, your achievements tend to be belittled.
Green flag: Black and other underrepresented employees in the company being involved. You can tell by whether they contribute to the public facing tech/non-tech content such as the company tech blogs, podcasts, interviews etc.
Acelr8: What kind of learnings or insights can you share from your experience as a Black professional in a predominantly white industry?
Kizito: As a black person, you need to understand that you have earned your spot. In environments that are not very diverse it can be very difficult to voice your opinion especially if it is different from the consensus. Having confidence in your abilities and knowing you earned your place based on your know-how helps assure you that your different opinion is valid.
Acelr8: Which modern or historical figure would you like to celebrate/honour this BHM?
Kizito: Eliud Kipchoge, Kenyan long-distance runner.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest marathon runners of all time, he has run four of the six fastest marathons in history and currently holds the world record for the fastest marathon time (2 hours 1 minute!).
In summary, Kitizo highlights how there’s a lot you can tell about a company’s culture and attitude to diversity through their interview process, as well as how the contributions from their employees of colour are valued through publicly promoted content. The most inclusive companies will not just “talk the talk” when it comes to diversity, they will also “walk the walk” by celebrating the achievements of Black employees and making sure they are part of hiring decisions.
Ultimately the most important thing you can bring to the table when looking for a new job is confidence in your skills, opinions, and the value you can bring as an employee. Finding a company culture which celebrates these things, rather than belittling them, is a key factor for Black professionals looking to grow and flourish in a healthy work environment.