Being Black in many industries is not so easy. Sometimes people make off-the-cuff remarks that are questionably racist. But that is tolerable, no? For sure funny - right? We often tell ourselves these things as people of color to avoid growing frustrated with ignorance and intolerance. 

Other times, it might be how someone looks at you that makes you feel uncomfortable as a Black person. This merely scratches the surface - but does shed light on a few situations of discrimination people of color, women, and other minorities face in the workplace.

Black founders, on the other hand, have their own set of hurdles to leap. Many Black founders find it difficult to get to the capital needed to integrate the technologies necessary to support a remote workforce, remote meetings, even onboarding new talent, and for customer service purposes. 

Black founders, therefore, often lack the resources many non-minority-owned businesses leverage with ease. Such tools might make a sizable difference, too. Craig Walker, Founder, and CEO, Dialpad, is aware of how much access to said technology might help. 

Walker recently sat down for an exclusive interview with GetVoIP News where he opened up about what he sees as the unified communications software developer's responsibility - to help level the playing field by extending the use of mission-critical technology free for life for up to ten seats. 

If founders want to add more seats, they are subject to a 75% discount on the company's unified communications solutions. Doing so, Walker noted - is Dialpad's moral duty. Lending more rationale into his decision to join the movement of tech companies "doing the right thing," Walker told GetVoIP readers: 

"With everything happening in the Black community over the past year and a half, it became increasingly clear how much ridiculous generational inequity the community faced and still faces. If there is some way to make it better - we have the responsibility to do it." 

The notion of doing the right thing has long been a fixture at Dialpad, having served as Dialpad's mission statement since its inception. Now, Walker says, the UC provider is putting its money where its mouth is.


Free/reduced access to Black founders

Dialpad was one of the first SaaS (Software as a Solution) companies to join the #TechForBlackFounders movement shortly after the initiative launched in mid-2020. Today, there are nearly 40 tech companies in the data collection, attribution, analytics, and customer engagement space that participate in the program. According to Walker: 

"Dialpad expanded our startup program to allow for any U.S. - based companies led by one or more Black founders, ones that have raised less than $30 million in venture capital, and have fewer than 150 employees (as organized by the TFBF founding members)."

Dialpad is the only UCC company participating in the effort and offers Black founders a lot of value, much of it free of charge. Since the summer of 2020, the UCC provider said, it has welcomed over 50 Black-founded startups into the program.

If you fit the bill, you can sign up for free and take advantage of 10-free business phone lines with unlimited video conferencing for life, plus up to 75% off on additional phone lines. 


Tote and Pears + Dialpad strides toward equality 

Being a part of the change you want to see in the world sometimes means standing up for equality at all costs. No one asking for equality is begging for much more than a fair chance and equal access to resources. This is where lending access to valuable technology can make all the difference.  

Amber Anderson is the Founder and Head of Strategy at Tote + Pears, a full-service marketing firm with three full-time employees. Anderson told me during a recent interview - that the company actively hires roughly 50 regular freelancers to tackle tasks that range from branding, content development, product design, etc., too.

The nine-year-old firm focuses on creating branding experiences for women and minorities, hoping to foster a culture of inclusivity for brands. Another aim - ensuring these often marginalized voices get heard. The way she sees things - women are rather influential but often get overlooked in many aspects. Women make many of the fundamental decisions in their households, Anderson noted - giving me some much-needed insight into the clout women have.

According to research cited by Anderson, 93 percent of women decide which foods families eat and 90 percent of women make medical decisions for loved ones. Housing is no different, with 91 percent of women, according to Anderson, making housing decisions. Despite these many obligations, women, a vast majority of them, according to Anderson, still feel misunderstood by businesses and brands. 

Now, just two months after having joined the initiative, Anderson believes that is this access to Dialpad's free collaboration/telephony software that helped her do a lot more than she used to do. During this timeframe, Anderson scaled up the firm's recruitment efforts, and she now has access to a global talent pool of more diverse candidates. 


No more silos for this Black-owned business

Anderson mentioned that, beforehand, the company leveraged several siloed systems. Now, it has solutions for nearly every challenge. The company's new hires can access the appropriate tools needed to foster remote work, and existing employees can better collaborate on internal projects. Speaking about her experience as a Black woman, Anderson shared: 

"Being an African American woman and the primary breadwinner in my family, things like this are game-changers for us. We do not always have the right resources, and I know that if I had access to Dialpad earlier, I could have scaled more quickly." 

Equitable access to such tools, including the telephony/collaboration variety, is one of the many structural barriers to entry for countless Black entrepreneurs. Anderson views the giving away of free software for a lifetime as a service that helps give marginalized companies a much-needed boost to compete with others. 


Surpassing workplace equity/diversity goals

In 2020, Walker said that Dialpad renewed its commitment to increasing Black representation across the company. The move subsequently led to creating the firm's equity, balance, and belonging (EBB) group. Since being established, Walker told me that the group increased the percentage of Black employees from 1.3% to 6.8% in less than twelve months. The effort, led by an African American man. 

Today, Dialpad has 700+ full-time employees - with 34.3% identifying as women and another 50.1% identifying as a minority. Twenty-five percent of Dialpad’s board members identify as female, and 37.5% are minorities. Walker was quite candid about the board being predominantly male and white - something he vowed to change in the future.