On August 16, 2022, Salesforce again partnered with BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine for an inspiring and meaningful program of panel events and entertainment from various contributors in celebration of National Black Business Month.
This year the event was broadcast live from Atlanta, hosted by entrepreneur and producer, Kenny Burns. After an opening address from Shalaya Shipman, senior director of Strategic Business Development at Salesforce, the live audience, and thousands of at-home viewers were treated to a Mississippi-made rapper, Akeem Ali, performance.
For the first discussion, Salesforce EVP, Jessica Ross, sat down with the author and the founder of Backstage Capital, Arlan Hamilton.
“We are heirs to a throne that has been kept secret from us,” declared Hamilton, reminding the audience of the power of optimism, manifestation, and the importance of the Black community claiming what they deserve.
Spoken word poet, Amena Brown, took to the stage to perform some of her work, including a poem dedicated to the Black women of Salesforce:
“We’re behind the scenes,
besides the scene,
we build the scene,
we are the scene.”
The next panel event saw Salesforce’s Vatora Godwin sit down with trailblazers Aaron McGriff, Toni V. Martin, and Tiffany Spencer, to discuss how tools like Salesforce are giving more people their chance to find success.
“Technology allows us to play above our weight, it allows us to leapfrog,” said Spencer, CEO of Tech Forward, a nonprofit organization that exposes marginalized communities to opportunities and careers in software.
After hearing about BOLDforce, the equality group within Salesforce that provides a platform for employees of color to elevate their voices and develop their careers, the action returned to the main stage for the Innovating Beyond Limits panel discussion. Sports and entertainment leaders Isaac Hayes, DeAndre Brown, Mikael Moore, and Alexys Feaster spoke with Salesforce’s Reggie Marable about their experiences in their fields of expertise. It was truly special to hear from each of them about their journeys and plans for the future.
A recurring theme during the discussions was tackling imposter syndrome. For breakout content creator and entrepreneur DeAndre Brown, it happens over time and especially when you are living your purpose.
“You start to realize that ‘I can do what I want, I can say what I want, and I don’t have to be scared,’” he shared.
For the final panel, Shattering Glass Ceilings, Salesforce Ventures Director Brooke Daniels chatted with some extraordinary Black women in finance: Sherri Brewer, Sarah Kunst, and Kimberly A. Blackwell.
“We as African Americans are one of the fastest growing segments, but we’re not growing to scale.” said Blackwell, investor and founder of PMM Agency.
“That access to capital also has to be paired with access to opportunity.”
After the inspiring panel discussions, the party’s DJ Traci Steele hyped up the crowd for the final performance: R&B legend and Grammy-winner, Lucky Daye, gave everyone at the event and those watching from home an incredible show to close out the night.