Editor’s Note: This article is contributed by Danielle Pavliv, the Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at SAS.  Pavliv serves as a thought leader and strategist in promoting and executing global workforce diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) strategies.  At SAS, she also leads a diverse team focused on increasing workforce representation of underrepresented communities in technology.


CARY – The technology skills gap continues to challenge business leaders across industries. The solution to bridging the gap is threefold – remove systemic barriers to achieve equitable outcomes, equip the next generation with the skills needed to thrive in a data-driven world, and invest in diverse talent that fuels innovation.

For over 150 years, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have been an integral source of graduating Black and African American talent while preparing students for impactful and successful careers. When it comes to technology, HBCUs are a critical piece of the skills gap puzzle, accounting for 25% of African American graduates with STEM degrees. Investing in HBCUs helps meet today’s challenging talent demands and contributes to a more diverse – and thus innovative – work environment.

SAS has long partnered with HBCUs, from intentional recruitment efforts to supporting bipartisan legislation for meaningful investments in HBCUs. SAS CEO Jim Goodnight has often noted that our employees from HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions add tremendous value to the fabric of our company and the equitable technology solutions we seek to develop. And our diverse workforce brings together unique talents and abilities that inspire teams to create software that can change the world.

SAS to host 16 HBCU golf teams for invitational as part of annual SAS Championship

The SAS Championship HBCU Invitational

On Oct. 14-16, SAS hosted a first-of-its-kind event to empower and inspire 80 HBCU student-athletes as part of the 22nd annual SAS Championship.

The SAS Championship HBCU Invitational – a collaborative effort between SAS, the PGA Tour, Octagon and the Black College Golf Coaches Association – featured men’s and women’s collegiate golf teams from 12 leading HBCUs competing as part of the annual PGA Tour Champions tournament. This opportunity aimed to not only increase diversity in golf, but also to empower the future generation of Black professionals and inspire curiosity about technology through a dedicated Career Day at SAS headquarters in Cary.

On Friday, prior to teeing off, the students learned about the athletic and career experiences of SAS employees in the Black Initiatives employee inclusion group, explored job opportunities in tech, received career readiness resources and built meaningful relationships that will hopefully extend beyond the tournament. The attendees heard firsthand from SAS HBCU alumni and former collegiate athletes who have an acute understanding of the experiences, challenges and opportunities that the students face. Continuing the networking opportunities, the student-athletes also joined PGA Tour legends for an exclusive dinner during the tournament.

The participants in the inaugural event represented 12 HBCU schools, including Chicago State, Florida A&M, Howard, Johnson C Smith, Livingstone, Maryland Eastern Shore, Miles, North Carolina Central, Prairie View A&M, Savannah State, Virginia Union and Winston-Salem State.

Florida A&M University took home the Men’s Division 1 title, Miles College won the Men’s Division 2 category and Howard University won the Women’s competition. The overall women’s winner was Kendall Jackson of Howard University, and the overall men’s winner was Phillip Darst of Miles College.

There is without a doubt more work to be done to level the playing field – both on and off the course. Creating intentional opportunities to ensure the workforce of tomorrow is more reflective of our world and putting in the time and effort it takes to bridge the technology skills gap will help us build a smarter, safer and more equitable future for all.

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