The Value of Nurturing Digital Marketing Talent in Underserved Communities
June 19, 2023
Investing in efforts to nurture digital marketing talent from across the globe helps shift the landscape of the industry for the better. That’s why Semrush is currently pursuing global initiatives to support digital marketers and SEO professionals from underserved communities.
At Semrush, our goal has always been to help marketers by providing them with tools that empower them—and we aim to do this through more than just our software offerings. Last fall, we donated $100,000 to Girls Who Code, and our fundraising efforts helped raise $42,000 for UNICEF and Ukrainian refugees this past spring.
But this story is really about the tremendous organizations that are on the ground supporting aspiring digital marketing talent. We recently partnered with two organizations that provide aspiring BIPOC and Latina marketers with education, mentorship, tools, and training to help them reach their career goals. Let’s explore the incredible work they’re doing.
The Freelance Coalition for Developing Countries (FCDC)
Founded in 2020 by Nigerian SEO copywriter Chima Mmeje, the Freelance Coalition for Developing Countries (FCDC) provides free mentorship and training for BIPOC individuals mostly living in developing countries. The organization currently has over 700 members in Nigeria, India, Kenya, the United Kingdom, the U.S., and elsewhere.
From the beginning of her time in digital marketing, Mmeje struggled to gain traction and credibility in SEO due to the inaccessibility of the industry. “My traditional Nigerian name, my location in a developing country, and the color of my skin meant that I was fighting an uphill battle,” she noted.
Mmeje overcame some of these hurdles by developing a following on social media, but she then found herself at a career standstill when she lost all her clients during the pandemic. It was during this time that Mmeje witnessed firsthand the value of mentorship, as two experienced figures in the field provided guidance that enabled her to go from a monthly income of $1,000 to between $10,000 and $20,000.
“If mentorship did all that for me,” Mmeje said, “it could have a similar impact on other BIPOC people with the same struggles.” She started the FCDC in October 2020, using a spreadsheet to connect BIPOC digital marketers with experienced mentors in the field.
The FCFC expanded its offerings in 2022 when Mmeje saw a heightened need for attention to the lack of support for BIPOC SEO employees. “I realized that many of our community members lacked the skillset and training to do their jobs properly,” Mmeje said. “We introduced free courses, subscriptions, mentorship, speaker training and SEO cohorts to remove barriers that prevented BIPOC people from upskilling and competing fairly.”
The FCDC began their partnership with Semrush when Mmeje reached out to us about sponsoring a cohort. During the cohort, students were given access to fundamental and advanced SEO courses to help them develop and hone their skills. They were also exposed to internship opportunities through resume reviews and outreach to organizations offering internship programs.
To empower students with as many resources as possible, we also provided Semrush Pro accounts to all cohort students so that they could put what they just learned into action.
Latinas en SEO
Latinas en SEO was founded in 2021 by Christina Ehrensberger, Carla Berni de Marque, Florence Estevez, Nathalia Menendez, and Rita Carboni. The organization is dedicated to closing the gender gap in SEO in Latin America through educational opportunities, events, and scholarships.
Ehrensberger co-founded the organization after realizing she didn’t know a single other Latina in the industry, even within the global networks she was part of.
“Latinas en SEO was founded because several Latinas felt the need to support each other,” Ehrensberger explains, “and we needed a safe space to share about discrimination and unfair treatment in our industry.” The group has since grown to 600 community members and hosts SEO events like panels, webinars, and meetups.
Ehrensberger has seen a major positive impact through the power of so many Latina SEO professionals banding together. “As a community people will pay attention to us now, as we are many and we hold together,” she writes. “We have been able to generate significant changes in the industry, such as having some SEO events in Latin America finally add Latinas to their lineups.”
In September, Semrush donated several MacBooks through Latinas en SEO. We’ve also collaborated on projects at universities and have lent our support during the 2021 launch of Indexadas, an SEO event organized by Latin women.
The benefits of such solidarity and equity initiatives are high, as they create opportunities for aspiring talent to see there’s a place for them in the industry. “Many of us have built important friendships, meet offline, work together, and constantly create amazing projects,” Ehrensberger notes. “These connections are bringing a lot of change and awareness. Every time I see one more Latina speak at an event, or be successful at her job, it is rewarding to me.”
Why corporate equity and solidarity is important for every business
But acknowledging the problem isn’t enough, as companies who have the ability to address the issue have an obligation to do so. “You can’t talk about advocating for DEI without funding communities doing the work to level the playing field for BIPOC people in developing countries,” Mmeje notes. “I love that Semrush gives back by supporting BIPOC communities. The ROI [return on investment] doesn’t have to be cash returns or new signups to be worth it.”
How you can help
There's a lot of work to be done, and we're proud to play our part. But you can also help at the individual and corporate levels, as there are countless opportunities to make a difference in the lives of aspiring and deserving talent. Visit the organizational links throughout this post for ways you can help. Talk to your DEI leaders—or anyone else at your company who can help—to see how your organization can contribute to the fight to level the playing field in our industry.
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