A Mission to Empower Data and Analytics Professionals: Black in Data

The co-founders of Black in Data join us to discuss why they founded a collaborative movement to promote equal opportunities and representation for people of color in data and analytics

Our guests for this week’s podcast are on a mission. Devina Nembhard and Sadiqah Musa, both senior analysts at the British newspaper The Guardian, are co-founders of a newly-launched community, Black in Data,  designed to accelerate the careers of people of color in data and analytics.

Born of the turbulent events of 2020, including the murder of George Floyd in the US, Black in Data exists to provide mentorship, inspiration and a community to people of color seeking a career in data.

“The idea is that we get data professionals of color together in one place to network, for example, to meet each other, to share ideas, tips, and hints about what they’re doing in their data world,” says Musa. “Overall, the idea is for us to increase ethnic representation within the data industry.”

“I think it’s always been time for an organization like Black in Data,” adds Nembhard. “And it’s clear from people’s reactions when we invite them to the group that it’s something that everyone’s been really thirsty for.”

Accelerating the Careers of People of Color

It’s no secret that people of color are underrepresented in a range of professional and academic fields and in particular those that draw on graduates of science, technology, education and math (STEM).

The trend manifested in a very personal way for Sadiqah Musa as she embarked on her career in data.

“I had been working for well over 10 years and I had never worked with another black female. I just felt like I did not belong in any of the workspaces that I’ve been at,” says Musa. “And it’s not because of anything that I was doing wrong or anything that my colleagues were doing wrong. I’ve worked with some really amazing people. But something was just missing.”

Black in Data provides a ready-made network for people of color to make connections, receive advice and support and even find employment opportunities.

“If you want to access the diverse pool of candidates, you have to go to the right place, that’s why with Black in Data we have set up a jobs board,” says Musa. “We’ve got a fantastic group of people that are super qualified. We are here. Find us.”

Providing Training and Mentorship  

Black in Data is about more than simply networking and finding new roles. Musa and Nembhard are also passionate about helping their members develop their data and analytics skills.

“The mentoring, for me, I think is the part of the organization that I feel most passionate about,” says Musa. “I found when I started out I had nobody to reach out to, to ask questions.”

She continues: “So, we are running a three-month mentoring program where we asked the mentors and the mentees to meet at least once every month for an hour. And it’s completely mentee-led.”

“We offer a training program as well,” adds Nembhard. “The whole point of the training scheme is to give them those skills. Teach them SQL and Python, teach them advanced analytics, teach them how to visualize data. And then they can just make the leap into the data world a bit easier.”

If you would like to join the Black in Data community, or if you are looking to support their initiative, you can find them at Black in Data.

Key Findings

  • Black in Data is a newly-created movement. Its mission is to support the careers of under-represented communities in data and analytics.
  • It’s a place where you can develop your skills. From the ‘data visualization challenge’ to training and mentorship, Black in Data can help you develop your career.
  • A ready-made community for people of color. It’s also a place to network, share tips and ideas and make new friends.