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Honoring Black History Month at Handshake

Recognizing the contributions of those who fought injustice with resiliency and how we're commemorating the accomplishments of Black Americans.

This February, Handshake joined the nation in commemorating Black History Month with events organized and hosted by Wakanda, our employee community for people that relate to the African Diaspora or those of African descent. And while Handshake strives to celebrate black excellence year round, we are proud to share the events, initiatives, and conversations Wakanda has put together this February.

Throughout the month, each engagement intentionally focused on advocacy and resistance, practices that hold significant meaning within Black history and culture. Working within this theme, we explored more contemporary aspects of advocacy and resistance, from preserving Black culinary traditions to reimagining what responsible design looks like in emerging technologies.

We kicked off BHM by featuring Ruha Benjamin's "Race After Technology" as Handshake's Book of the Month. We selected this book for its ability to spark conversation on emerging technologies and their potential to deepen social inequity. We encouraged Handshakers to reflect on this message and consider the importance of our role as technologists advancing Handshake’s mission.

Keeping with the theme of resistance, Wakanda hosted “Data & Society,” a stimulating company-wide panel discussion. The panel, moderated by Handshake's Chief Legal Officer, Valerie Capers Workman, focused on the intersections of social inequality, data, AI, and Algorithms—topics near and dear to Handshake's mission of democratizing access to opportunity. Alongside Valerie, we welcomed Nancy Douyon, Kenia Hale, and Damian Watkins to share their professional perspectives and individual experiences with organizational responsibility when leveraging data in our work.

We were fortunate to be able to highlight the stories, experiences, and perspectives of Black professionals in this timely discussion on the intersection of equity and technology. The panel enabled Handshake employees to learn from experts in their fields and engage in meaningful conversations about emerging technologies and their impact on the human experience: from what’s top of mind for young technologists from underrepresented communities to ethical design principles practiced by the top global tech companies.

We concluded Black History Month with a community-focused event where we invited Chef Todd Richards to talk about his commitment to honoring Black culinary traditions. Chef Richards’ conversation with community members highlighted the different stigmas against certain aspects of soul food, including the limiting nature of the term itself, the remarkable and often understated contribution of people of Black descent to American culinary history, as well as a vision for the future where the Black community continues to grow, preserve, and pass on culinary traditions to future generations.

Reflecting on the content, initiatives, and events Wakanda has put together this February is a powerful reminder that resistance in its varied hues is central to the Black experience, and while progress has been made, there are remaining frontiers for Black Americans and their allies to overcome.

At Handshake, we believe that giving voices to our employee communities and investing in experiences strengthens us as a company and creates a space to learn from each other. Today and every day, we proudly support the Wakanda community, our black employees, and their rich heritages.

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