In the midst of a serious diversity problem plaguing the tech industry, DigitalUndivided founder Kathryn Finney is bringing perhaps the rarest demographic for the tech space into the field: Black women.
In an industry that not only fails to deliver on racial diversity but gender diversity as well, Black women are extremely rare in the technology space. But DigitalUndivided is fighting to put an end to that.
“We want to see more urban entrepreneurs, especially Black women, in tech,” Finney told Atlanta Blackstar. “Through our FOCUS Fellows program, we provide Black and Latino women founders and co-founders with the networks and knowledge to build successful companies.”
That’s exactly what DigitalUndivided is all about—making sure urban entrepreneurs have the skills and access to resources they need to achieve great things in the tech space.
Members of the FOCUS Fellows program have gone on to obtain “leadership positions at companies as diverse as Uber, Facebook and Chicago Infrastructure Trust,” she said.
For quite some time, DigitalUndivided has been helping the tech space become more diverse while embarking on a mission to increase the amount of urban tech entrepreneurs. It’s a mission about which Finney herself has good reason to be passionate.
As an African-American woman, she has experienced first-hand what it’s like to be the rare breed in such an important field of work.
“All the companies I’ve started have been because of personal need,” Finney said before explaining her extensive history in the tech and digital media space. “…In 2006, I was looking to capitalize on my platform and join one of New York’s first tech incubators. There I learned first-hand the challenges that people of color, especially women, face if they want to break into the tech space.”
While Finney’s career has led her to a ton of firsts—first style blogger to get a book deal, one of the first style bloggers to be accredited for Fashion Week, first time appearing on a national morning show—diving into the tech space introduced her to a different kind of first.
“It was the first time in my life that I was in a community where I was expected to be ‘less than’ solely because of my race and gender,” she said. “I had white male colleagues tell me that I couldn’t relate to other Black women because I had an accountant.”
That experience is exactly what turned into the nationally recognized brand that Finney is the head of today.
“That experience stuck with me,” she said. “…So I formed DigitalUndivided in 2012 and we held our first project FOCUS100, in October 2012.”
DigitalUndivided is the type of business that has the potential to revolutionize the tech industry and change the face of an industry that has been dominated by white males for years.
Of course, the work is far from being done. Finney said people of color will have to be more assertive when it comes to breaking down the barriers to an industry that has shunned them for years.
“As people of color we often want people to ‘invite’ us into spaces and spend a lifetime waiting for that invitation,” she said as she shared her advice for other Black people looking to become tech entrepreneurs. “Success comes to those who show up, with or WITHOUT, an invite.”
She also encouraged aspiring tech entrepreneurs to embrace failure, cultivate relationships and forget all about the naysayers who don’t believe in their talent.