HomeLearning CenterHow this 29-year-old is helping Black women land jobs at Disney, Amazon—and increase their pay by as much as $60K

How this 29-year-old is helping Black women land jobs at Disney, Amazon—and increase their pay by as much as $60K

Two summers ago, as the Covid-19 pandemic ripped through New York, Niani Tolbert feared she was about to hit rock bottom. 

Tolbert had lost her job as a tech recruiter months earlier. “I was broke, furloughed and scared,” she tells CNBC Make It. “I didn’t know how I’d afford to stay in New York City or where my career was going.”

That June, she watched as millions of people took to the streets to protest the police killing of George Floyd — and while she wasn’t comfortable joining the crowds and risking exposure to the virus, watching the marches stirred something within her. 

The best contribution she could make to the racial justice movement, she decided, was donating her time and expertise as a recruiter to help other people of color, like her, who were struggling to find work during the pandemic. 

Tolbert put a request out on LinkedIn: Would HR professionals join her in donating an hour of their time to review the resumes of 19 Black women in honor of Juneteenth?

Her post quickly went viral on the platform, and within weeks, Tolbert was able to coordinate more than 500 resume review sessions between Black women and hiring managers. 

Leading the volunteer effort gave Tolbert “a sense of purpose when everything else felt unstable,” the 29-year-old wrote in a subsequent LinkedIn post.

She decided to turn the initiative, called #HireBlack, into her full-time job: Now, #HireBlack offers hiring events, an annual summit, career workshops, a job board and other career resources for Black women. 

#HireBlack’s mission is to get 10,000 Black women hired, trained and promoted. Tolbert, who serves as CEO, and her team of eight employees work with top companies such as Amazon, Uber and Disney to recruit and hire Black women.

Another aspect of #HireBlack’s mission is to help close the stark pay gap Black women still face: Black women working full-time, year-round make just 67 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, according to new research from the National Women’s Law Center. The wage gap shortchanges Black women $22,692 per year and $907,680 over the span of a 40-year career. 


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