Courtney Roberts-Lawes, Tech Product Marketing, Corporate Communications and Public Relations Specialist

 

Throughout #BlackHistoryMonth, our BE in Tech series highlights some of the experiences of Black women in the Canadian tech industry.

Share your own experiences using the hashtag #BeInTech and tag us @joinmovethedial!

Next, we speak to Courtney Roberts-Lawes, Tech Product Marketing, Corporate Communications and Public Relations Specialist



As a black woman in tech, what has been your biggest obstacle/challenge to date?

When I started, I didn’t always have the confidence to speak up or engage in conversations when there were senior executives or people with more technical job functions in a meeting. I overcame that by realizing that I earned my spot there and my insight provides value from a function that is equally important to the success of the product

If you could change one thing during your experience in tech and in the workplace what would it be?

Finding the balance between my true self and my work self earlier on. The sooner I showed up as my authentic self, the sooner I started to take bold risks and ask for help when I need it. I began to connect with others in a more genuine way, allowing myself to truly be seen.

Moving the dial is an ongoing mission we strive to do, is there someone or something that has inspired you to #movethedial in your journey. 

Yes, while I was working in marketing and communications in the public sector and my contract was ending, a woman named Lavern Walters reached out to me on LinkedIn, as someone on her marketing team was hiring. She had spent years in the publishing and automotive sectors before joining TR, where she’s been for the last 25 years and was keen on sending the elevator back down. She connected me with the hiring manager and after a few rounds of interviews, I got the role. I didn’t have much Product Marketing experience at the time but I was eager to learn and do the work. The teams (marketing, product, sales) were very supportive. Now every time I see an opportunity that I think someone would be great for, I can’t help but share. There’s never a moment where I think, ok I’m here, let me focus on myself. If I can #movethedial for another young, black woman in any way I can, I’m going to.

What does being Black In Tech mean to you?

It means being intentional. Intentionally diving in, raising my hand and asking for more. It still means being the minority, however, it also means that I bring a perspective and lens to the table that others don’t. I’m aware of things like unconscious bias and microaggressions and I’m grateful that I’m in an environment where I’m empowered to speak up. I realize that’s not the case everywhere.

How can the industry move the dial for black women in tech?

Tangible systems have to be put in place to facilitate the mentorship process, especially for black women. There are so many groups or “diversity” initiatives that are essentially “inclusive”, however, they are all-encompassing, so it becomes a bit of a blanket initiative. Without getting granular, black women still tend to fall to the bottom rung where the industry is concerned and there’s data to support that.


 
Move the Dial