Engaging Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs)

Staying ahead of the curve and finding smart ways to grow are core Genius Sports values.

We believe in better together and know that talented people, sharing common values, diverse ideas and a collective vision lead to greater success. Diversity and inclusion are at the centre of this innovative spirit, and we are committed to taking genuine and meaningful action to continue progressing on both fronts.

Through our ESG programme, Beyond the Lines, we ‘go beyond’ what is required to help drive positive change for our communities, stakeholders and the planet. Under this programme, we carry out tailored initiatives that target our goals, measure our impact and embody our values.

One of our initiatives is a collaboration with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the United States. In 2023, we will be working with HBCUs to establish an internship programme and have recently hosted a virtual career day, providing practical hints and tips for students preparing for life in the job market after college.

Joshua James, Senior Talent Acquisition Partner based in South Carolina, has been leading this new initiative alongside colleagues in our Race Equality Affinity Group. In this interview, we caught up with Josh to find out more.

Many people outside the US may not be familiar with HBCUs. Could you give us a quick introduction to them?

“Of course. HBCUs first started out almost 200 years ago. At a time when African Americans were unable to pursue a degree at historically white institutions, they were created to help equip these students with a proper education.

“Thankfully, if you fast forward to where we are now, they have come a really long way to compete with the world’s top universities. There are now over 100 HBCUs in the US and they take real pride in their history and legacy.

“It may surprise people that some HBCUs now enroll up to 40% white students too. So, they are continuing to evolve as they uplift Black culture and traditions, while they are responsible for 25% of all STEM degrees for African Americans.”

How is Genius looking to work with HBCUs this year?

“Like many companies, we’re always considering what steps we can take to diversify our workforce. One of these is to create educational partnerships with HBCUs, which help not only to create a more inclusive place of work, but to engage students and give them experiences they can value post-graduation.

“Right now, we’ve got a couple of initiatives we’re creating with Howard University School of Law (one of the nation’s top 50 schools) and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (which graduates more software engineering students than any other HBCU).

“We recently hosted a Genius Sports Career Day as part of our Black History Month initiatives. We met with HBCU students via Zoom, talked to them about Genius and gave them an introduction to our hiring process. We also showed them a Technical Coding Assessment (the initial tests we send to our candidates) and told them what we like to see on resumes and LinkedIn profiles.

“Meanwhile, we’re partnering with Howard to create a pilot for a new internship program at Genius, with the opportunity for a student to work with us full-time for a summer and potentially be hired once they’ve graduated. I think these initiatives are awesome, because we’re truly seeing a positive change in our workforce as a by-product of our D&I initiatives.”

What impact do you think our D&I initiatives can have at Genius?

“Representation really matters, and it’s been great to see the company seeking to create an inclusive place of work, which in turn helps to support positive relationships and fosters communication. I think we’d agree that a communicative, positive environment is one we’d all love to work in!

“That doesn’t just start with the recruitment process itself; it begins with understanding where there’s a lack of diversity within your organization in the first place, which I believe Genius has done a great job at identifying.

“We have great champions of D&I work across the company, from our People and ESG teams to our senior leaders, who are really engaged and passionate about the subject.

“They understand that along with inclusion, diversity leads to creative problem-solving, better decision-making, and even enhanced productivity and customer experience.”

You can find out more about Black History Month at Genius Sports and our race equality affinity group here.