Networking is a huge part of career advancement — but because so many networking spaces and communities aren’t inclusive and diverse, many Black professionals don’t get a proverbial seat at the table.
This is what Black@INBOUND aims to change.
“Black@INBOUND creates the kind of social network and opportunity that most white people have inherited from generations of relationship building,” says Founder and Senior Marketing Manager at HubSpot Devyn Bellamy.
“Regardless of talent, sometimes getting ahead isn’t about what you know but about who you know.”
Through resources, events, networking opportunities, and more, HubSpot’s Black@INBOUND is a safe, connected, thriving community that aims to elevate its 500+ members.
Where to find the community: Black@INBOUND lives within the HubSpot Community platform and can be found on the navigation bar under groups, then hangouts.
Who can join: This is a closed group, specifically for Black professionals in America, Pan-Africa, and the diaspora. (If you’re interested in applying to join, head over here.)
What you can expect: A community of Black professionals to learn from and network with, and resources in the form of blogs, events, and newsletters.
It all started with a hashtag.
#BlackatInBound was used on Twitter to highlight the work of Black founders and professionals and help them connect with one another.
Devyn began hosting events for the growing community of people using the hashtag, eventually receiving support from HubSpot for many of them. In 2020, HubSpot officially created a space for the community within its community platform.
Communities that thrive are those that provide support, influence, and have an impact on the lives of their members, Devyn says. They recognize the issues members could face in their everyday lives and provide tangible solutions.
“For example, here at HubSpot we have hundreds of job postings and the perfect person for that role might be someone in our community,” Devyn says. “But they’d never know about it if it wasn’t shared with them.”
Devyn has experienced this community effect firsthand. “I started at HubSpot through Black@INBOUND. One day, Shana Sumers, [HubSpot Senior Manager of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Communities], and I were talking and she alerted me to a job opening at HubSpot for a person with my particular skill set.
“She said I should consider applying, I checked out the post, applied, and ended up getting the job. I don’t think that could have happened without our community connections.
“Shana has worked at HubSpot longer than I have and she is a huge part of where our community is today.”
Since joining HubSpot, the Black@INBOUND community has grown to over 500 members.
“I’ve seen that systemic racism in corporate is alive and thriving, and for me to be able to be a part of something that combats that is amazing,” says Shana.
“This is just the first step in how we begin to dismantle systemic racism and be able to make different workplaces more open and accepting.”
Whether you’re African American, a part of the diaspora, or pan-African, Black@INBOUND creates a safe space that any Black person can comfortably fit in to.
“The youngest member of our community is a 17-year-old high school student in Ghana,” says Devyn. “He’s already working on his own marketing company and asks a ton of great questions. And we're all available to answer them because he's part of the community.
“So it's not just about Americans, INBOUND is needed anywhere there are Black people who need to be elevated — which is everywhere.”
The Black@INBOUND community is a space where Black professionals start conversations, ask questions, and network — and it’s led to some amazing collaborations.
“Personally, these have improved my professional life in that I have a network of people to reach out to about opportunities and marketing-related topics,” says Devyn.
“For example, I own a marketing and consulting company, and I had a pretty large client that needed editorial assistance with their website. I was able to use my connections to Black writers in my community and they got to contribute to the website.”
Black@INBOUND offers a way for Black professionals people to get mentors, sponsors, and access to career-advancing information they might not otherwise have access to.
“We're creating these events for free,” Shana says. “We're putting resources out free, we're giving tickets to different conferences and events for free. We're getting ready to start planning workshops and masterclasses and we're putting more of our executive level into the programming and they're all involved as well,” she adds.
For Devyn, growth for Black@INBOUND is tied to its ability to remain a safe space for Black people.
“My ultimate dreams hopes are that we become the first place Black people think to go when they’re looking for help. When they're looking for advice or job opportunities, they should know that they’re able to find someone who can help connect them with someone who can help them get what they need.”
Shana was recently promoted into her current role at HubSpot, and she now has a team that helps manage the Black@INBOUND community.
“I love this community,” she says. “I love the work that I'm doing. I love that it's also personal to my life as a Black woman working in corporate America. I also love the fact that I can bring all of my intersectional identities into the space and still work to help the community grow.
“So much growth is going to come from Black professionals and if we have more companies like HubSpot who are investing in Black professionals, then the sky's the limit.
“This started as a Twitter hashtag. And now we've turned it into a year-round digital community space. And that was step one. So steps two, three, four, and five are just going to continue to best serve our community and the needs that they have.”