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10:33 AM / Saturday November 26, 2022

15 Mar 2022

Shannon Morales creates opportunities for undersupported  communities in technology with Tribaja

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March 15, 2022 Category: Technology Posted by:

By Kharisma McIlwaine

The long overdue conversation surrounding the lack of representation of undersupported communities in technology is finally taking place on a much larger scale. Thankfully, there are people who have taken notice and are doing their part to help bridge the gap. Shannon Morales, the founder and CEO of Tribaja — “your modern-day work tribe” — is doing just that. Morales founded Tribaja in 2020 as a way to help create opportunities specifically for undersupported communities in tech. Morales spoke to The SUN about her mission with Tribaja, the importance of diversity and inclusion in tech, and Tribaja’s signature event, the Diversitech Summit.          

The idea for Tribaja initially began as a separate business venture called Echo Me Forward five years ago. In January 2020, the business was rebranded as Tribaja. Tribaja is a play on words, combining the words tribe and trabaja, which means work in Spanish — an ode to Morales’ Afro Latina heritage. 

“I very often felt confused about where I belonged in this world of tech. I saw Latin X tech communities, Black in tech communities, and I’m like ‘I identify with both… so where do I go?’” Morales said. “When I was building Tribaja, I also felt the same. I can’t build something that’s only specifically for one or the other — I have to build something for both, because I want professionals like me to feel like they belong no matter what their cultural background is.” 

 “Very often it’s said that Tribaja was built for Black and Latin X professionals, but it’s really not,” she said. “It was actually built for undersupported professionals. That to me means that if you identify with feeling like you’re undersupported  in the tech industry — whether you’re Black, Latin X, Asian, part of the LGTBQ+ community, a female, a mom, [or] whatever that looks like, you’re welcome within Tribaja, because we all share similar obstacles when trying to transition and pivot within this industry.” 

Tribaja acts as a conduit between talent and companies seeking their expertise.

“We’re a talent marketplace that connects job seekers to upscaling programs as well as inclusive workplaces in tech and start-up,” Morales said. “My background specifically is that I’m more of a technical recruiter -innovation manager, so I connect professionals to great workplaces.”

The inspiration behind Tribaja came from seeing a lack of diversity represented in the tech industry.

“It was a little bit of a different ‘aha’ moment for me,” Morales said. “I was actually on the other side. I was building a business that needed tech, so I was trying to find professionals that aligned with the vision and the mission of the app that I was building for undersupported communities. I said, ‘ok, it would be great to have a professional that understands this space to actually work on it and build it,’ but I really struggled to find those candidates to join my team. When companies started hiring again, I thought it would be great for me to pivot the marketplace and focus more on tech talent. It wasn’t until I started developing the idea for the business that I realized I wasn’t the only business owner that was struggling to find diverse candidates in tech — that’s where I had the idea.” 

Tribaja is a community platform where you have the option of signing up as a job seeker, an employer or a partner. Job seekers can create profiles that they can tailor to what they are explicitly looking for, employers have access to a plethora of candidates and partners help train providers to upscale the Tribaja community.

“Not only will we connect you not only to our 3,600-member community which is for peer-to-peer networking and support, but from there we’ll connect you with inclusive workplaces that we’ve already vetted,” Morales said. “We have this intake process for how we vet employers, making sure they have some kind of diversity, equity and inclusion practices tied to what they’re already doing, and that we’re not the first stop as they’re thinking about what diversity means to them in the workplace.” 

“It’s been a great journey, and I’ve learned a lot,” she added. “I’m constantly reiterating how Tribaja does its social impact work but continues to be a thriving enterprise. It’s a balance between profitability and also making sure that we stay true to our mission and values to give back to our community in some way. We have over 2,500 partners and we’re constantly growing. This is not something that I ever expect us to be able to do on our own.”

In addition to the diligent work Tribaja does daily, Morales created the Diversitech Summit in 2021 as another way to connect the tech community.

“It was a way for us to pull everything together that Tribaja does into one event,” she said. “Last year, we focused on innovation, business and did tech and coding boot camp workshops. I think providing that access to what tech looks like for each individual is really important. This year, we’re focused more on career changers, as well as providing success stories from those who have made a successful pivot into tech. We’re also focused on non-technical tech careers for people like me who don’t code but might want to go into digital marketing, customer success roles or technical sales.” 

In addition to workshops, panel discussions, a myriad of speakers, and peer-to-peer networking opportunities, the Diversitech Summit also offers opportunities for attendees to potentially get hired on the spot.

 “On day three, we have our hiring event, which is a live speed interviewing event with ten companies,” Morales said. “Job seekers who are interested in the tech and start-up space can interview live with these companies. We’re providing access to live recruiters who are the gatekeepers to these roles spanning from entry-level  all the way to senior levels positions, and it’s free for job seekers always.”

Additionally, on the last day of the summit, there will be an in-person event taking place at the W Philadelphia from 6-9 p.m. The Diversitech Summit will take place virtually on March 16-18. Visit: www.tribaja.co and click the “Count Me In” button for more details and to sign up. You can also find Tribaja on LinkedIn. To support Tribaja on social media, follow them @tribaja.co on IG and @Join_Tribaja on Twitter. Also, be sure to follow Shannon Morales’ personal page on IG @thesocialprofessional

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