Office Hours: I’m the founder & CEO of Tribaja – where we propel underrepresented communities in tech forward. I’m Shannon Morales. AMA!Featured

Hey Elphas!

I’m Shannon Morales, founder & CEO of Tribaja, a talent marketplace and community for Black and Latinx people looking to work in tech. What drove me to create Tribaja was my own experience with discrimination and feelings of isolation as an Afro-Latina woman in finance.

Before Tribaja, I worked in finance at Adobe and then as an innovation manager and consultant for large brands. I found new trends and built ideas to disrupt major corporations.

Tribaja has been named Hispanic Business of the Year in Philadelphia as well as made it into Forbes’ Next 1000 small business list.

When I’m not running Tribaja, I enjoy spending time with my three daughters or trying out a new place to eat.

Ask me about launching businesses in times of ambiguity and chaos, building diverse startup and tech ecosystems, how to create something out of nothing, big picture thinking, bias in the workplace, creating competitive advantages, or anything else!

Thanks so much for joining us @shannonmorales!Elphas – please ask @shannonmorales your questions before Friday, September 30th. @shannonmorales may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Hi @shannonmorales ! So excited for your venture, I’d love to talk about my experience as a senior recruiter and the transition I am in, bounce ideas and see if I can help in any way as well. - Dimple [email protected]
Hi @dimplekochikar, are you transitioning into the tech industry?
I have been in the tech space for a long time. After recruiting for the Big 5 and large healthcare systems - we am now looking to support smaller ventures and visions with their recruiting and strategy. @shannonmorales
Hi Shannon! Thanks for offering your time to do this!What are some strategies or exercises you recommend for becoming a "big picture thinker" if you're someone who tends to look at the individual trees rather than the forest?
Hi @shannonmorales ! So excited for your venture, I’d love to talk about my experience as a senior recruiter and the transition I am in, bounce ideas and see if I can help in any way as well. - Dimple [email protected]
Hi Shannon! When you started Tribaja, or even in your previous roles, did you have trouble with establishing comms and inclusive language? As someone who overthinks all the time, I find that I get in my own way by writing and re-writing the simplest things or posts that I want to put out. Is this an issue you've ever had and do you have any tips on how to overcome this?
Hi @MichelleFuentes, I've learned that inclusivity means different things to different people. I dont overthink this because I'm transparent with my community and they understand that I'm a human that makes mistakes. The best approach is to have the right intentions, be open to feedback, and be ready to adjust.
Love this approach! I hope to be able to start thinking this way and be confident in it in the near future. Thanks so much for answering and sharing :)
Hi Shannon-I have a friend who also wants to start an employment-related firm focused on helping people with specific identity characteristics. In her case, it's women with children, especially those who took time off to care for their children and need help getting back into the work place.When she initially ran her idea past me, I worried that she might be operating in a legally fraught area. Isn't Equal Opportunity law supposed to prohibit employment selection processes that outright or implicitly consider protected identity characteristics? I understand that people who are white and people who are men have historically had subtle advantages that have added up to a lot of income and wealth disparity. I understand that getting to real Equal Opportunity is going to require centering those who would be stuck in the "if our first choice doesn't work out" pile, at best.Is the way the law is written a limitation for firms that specialize in addressing race and gender disparities by focusing on them? For instance, would a large company *want* to work with a firm focused on correcting for history by focusing only on women who want to re-enter the workforce? Or only on Latinx and Black would-be tech workers? Would some firms be afraid of working with a recruitment firm so upfront about using identity characteristics to select and present candidates? Could it be problematic for their firm, legally or from a PR standpoint? (I think we can all imagine someone like a Joe Rogan asking the question I'm asking, but in a less "safe" kind of way.)Beyond podcasters, there is evidence that the Supreme Court's turn towards more conservative interpretations of affirmative action policies signals that there will be more legally narrow interpretations of how identity characteristics can be considered (which is: not at all, regardless of how complicated history is). My friend is just getting started and could choose a different path fairly easily. She's also operating in a fairly conservative part of the country. What advice do you have about running a racial- and/or gender-justice business in a frothy political time?
Hi,Platforms and spaces created for specific under supported groups fall under Affirmative Action. Businesses like these are created to level the playing field and give equal opportunities to disadvantaged communities.I believe that challenging that status quo is the only way for us to get to a better place. If your friend is in a conservative area and there is a need for your friends business for returning working moms, it has a great chance of being successful. Companies seek out organizations like these because they often miss pools of talent by posting to a Linkedin or Indeed. They have diversity goals and metrics that are important for their companies culture. GenZ talent are demanding more diverse workplaces more than any other generation before them. In order to stay competitive, companies have to be able to pivot and be open to change.
Thank you for responding so directly to the question I asked. I have had a hard time talking about this because it is politically charged. The recent court cases against affirmative action policies at schools including Harvard (but not limited to Harvard) will be heard by the Supreme Court. It appears that Affirmative action in admissions will be struck down by the conservative court. Obviously admissions and employment are not the same, but they are so closely related that if affirmative action is struck down for admissions, I wonder if it would be struck down for employment practices, too?In our case, my friend is eager to pursue her passion. But…she has 3 kids, no child support, and no savings. In other words, she has to earn a fair amount and quickly. I am more practical. I would typically recommend picking a “sure bet” or starting with a bigger financial cushion than starting a recruiting agency during a cooling employment market, especially if the unique market position is about to be vulnerable to legal threat. (Again, she’s in a conservative state so the likelihood that someone files suit in her area is higher than if she were in a state that had its own legal protections for affirmative action.)I want to look out for her best interest but I also don’t want to be a wet blanket for her passion.I so appreciate your response.
I started my business as a single mother of 3 daughters with my unemployment checks in the midst of the pandemic with hiring freezes. Anything is possible and I have not heard of any lawsuits to recruiting firms for their right to focus on DEI. She should consider a non profit organization and lean into her mission.