Skip to Content
  • Leading Through Change
  • Nonprofit

Women Changing the Face of Talent in Tech

By Erinn Corbett-Wright March 31, 2023

This Women’s History Month, we celebrate the innovative women leaders of the Salesforce Catalyst Fund who are helping to bring training, connections, and job opportunities to underrepresented talent around the world.

Talent is everywhere, opportunity is not

At Salesforce, we know that talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. To address the opportunity gap within the tech industry, we support workforce development organizations in bringing in-demand skills and career connections to those furthest from success, specifically Black and Latinx young adults. To date, we’ve given more than $40 million to support workforce development organizations to provide economic opportunity and equitable pathways to careers for emerging talent.

Supporting diverse talent extends beyond the young people who attend training led by our nonprofit partners – the nonprofit leaders guiding this work require general operating grant support to fulfill the maximum potential of the organizations they manage. We know that nonprofits led by people of color get less funding than others, and to address this ongoing disparity, Salesforce launched the Catalyst Fund in 2021 to provide unrestricted startup capital to those representing the communities they serve. This general operating support is deployed with an intentional focus on BIPOC-nonprofit executives in the U.S.

Resilient Coders brings training and jobs to untapped talent

Through the Catalyst Fund, Salesforce provided a $100,000 grant to Resilient Coders, a Boston-based nonprofit training people of color for high-growth careers as software engineers and connecting them with jobs. Resilient Coders is led by Ayanna Lott-Pollard, a Black woman executive with nearly 20 years of national nonprofit experience. She has brought her expertise in nonprofit operations to Resilient Coders by accelerating its stakeholder engagement model and laying the foundation for organizations to hire program graduates. Over the past year, Resilient Coders has doubled its instructional capacity, served 90 Black and Latinx youth without college degrees, and connected 85% of program graduates to software engineering roles with an average salary of $94,800. 

“We have the benefit of a robust community of partners who believe in our mission of social justice through economic empowerment,” said Lott-Pollard. “As a result of our partnership with Salesforce, we are empowering early-career women in tech. The junior software engineers we prepare today will become the managers, influencers, and leaders of tomorrow, and they in turn will open networks and provide resources for their peers, families, and communities.”

Beyond financial support, we are bringing the full power of Salesforce to Resilient Coders by connecting Lott-Pollard with the Salesforce Women’s Network, a global membership of 17,000 Salesforce colleagues, to elevate her expertise in training diverse talent and helping them thrive in the workplace. Recently, she was featured on a panel with COO of Salesforce Foundation and SVP of Philanthropy Becky Ferguson, highlighting How Women in Tech are Transforming Philanthropy.

Employee volunteering in action

To leverage our 1-1-1 model of philanthropic support, employee volunteering, and product donations, I recently volunteered to support Resilient Coders alumni in developing self-advocacy in the workplace. Although program graduates have the technical skills to thrive in software engineering roles, many of them are working in a corporate environment for the first time. Being new to corporate work can bring feelings of imposter syndrome and otherness due to working in teams that don’t always reflect their identities. 

Empowered by the support that Resilient Coders provides, some alumni requested to meet with professionals of color in tech to explore workplace resources like mentors and employer assistance programs. Another funder of Resilient Coders, Social Venture Partners Philadelphia, hosted an evening roundtable at Comcast’s Philadelphia office where alumni and professionals of color in tech were able to connect and share about experiences in the workplace.

The roundtable created space for leaders in tech to share opportunities and resources that Lott-Pollard and Resilient Coders can leverage to build the case with potential employer partners about the power of hiring graduates of the program. Following the structured conversation, alumni were able to network with senior leaders from tech companies including Salesforce and Comcast. The benefit of the event was two-fold: amplifying the pathways to self-advocacy for alumni and building their social capital by connecting emerging talent with professionals of color working in tech. 

Resilient Coders’ Executive Director Ayanna Lott-Pollard and Erinn Corbett-Wright celebrating a successful networking event.
Resilient Coders’ Executive Director Ayanna Lott-Pollard and Erinn Corbett-Wright celebrating a successful networking event.

Resilient Coders also leverages the Salesforce platform to manage student enrollment, alumni engagement, and donor management. Using Salesforce has added efficiencies to managing key stakeholders across its chapters in Boston, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia. 

Young adults need support that reflects the fullness of who they are in addition to building on their potential. Resilient Coders continues to benefit from Lott-Pollard’s lived experience as a Black woman professional, and that is reflected in the success of the diverse and emerging talent that they support. To continue creating pathways for untapped talent in tech, please consider making a donation to Resilient Coders.

To learn more about how to get involved, please visit Resilient Coders’ website.

Read more about Erinn’s story on here.