To celebrate Black History Month, we’re highlighting the work and careers of Black creatives on our platform, as well as our Black team members who exemplify dedication, originality, and excellence. Join us all month long for team member and talent spotlights plus expressive illustrations commissioned from independent artists—like the one below by illustrator Cymone Wilder. You can also find these spotlights on Upwork’s social spaces, as we tell their stories and perspectives through both words and art.
Celebrating Black history transcends a single moment: it’s about honoring the past, appreciating the present, and looking forward to the future we're creating together. Ultimately, it’s about remembering that Black history isn’t just a day or month, but an integral part of what makes our world exceptional, always.
Need some new tunes? 🎧🎶Upwork's Black Initiative Network (BIN) Employee Resource Group curated a @Spotify playlist featuring musical contributions Black artists of the US have made to the world. #BlackHistoryMonth https://buff.ly/3czISOs
Here’s to a deeper appreciation of Black History: past, present, and future.
I'll be adding to this post all month long, so check back often!
In honor of Black History Month, we’re bringing you #InsideUpwork to meet some of our amazing, talented team members who demonstrate excellence everyday. Meet Sophia Saintcyr, an Inbound Business Development Representative whose favorite part of her role is partnering cross functionally to drive new initiatives that help Upwork grow.
How has Black History influenced her career? “When President Obama came into office, it helped shape my career and life by showing the years of endurance that my ancestors had to go through to show the world that everyone should be treated equally, with respect. Not only did it reestablish my confidence as a black woman in America, but it proved to me that change is on the way and that we are worthy of being in any and every position that we envision ourselves in.”
We’re honored you found your way to Upwork, Sophia. Keep up the great work.
Truth is powerful. This awesome illustration in honor of #BlackHistoryMonth was created by designer Cymone Wilder. She chose this quote from American abolitionist and women's rights activist Sojourner Truth and paired it with bold and sharp letterforms to reinforce the power of Truth’s words.
Cymone shared her inspiration with us: “I’ve always been drawn to the words of Sojourner Truth. If you’re lucky, there are the bits and pieces you learn about her in school, but to know the strength and fight in her complete story really illuminates what she had to say. Certainly, we all know that truth is powerful, but to understand that in the context of her story is incredible. Truth is freeing, life-breathing, and constant. And, as we look into history, truth can sometimes be slow, but is always persistent, and always prevails.
It felt important to create these words in a way that felt tangible, authentic, and as if they have always existed waiting to be dusted off. The bold and sharp letterforms stand strong to reinforce the power in her words. The textures and tones point to the time that was. A time that was full of struggle and loss, but also a time of immense triumph and ultimately freedom.”
Meet Shari Stephens, expert brand and marketing strategist, and Top Rated Talent on Upwork. Shari creates effective brand strategies by focusing on a go-to-market approach specific to each client's products, services, and industry. “I always ensure that the brand is set up for success and will meet their desired goals. This may include a brand refresh, website analysis, digital and social strategies, asset development, brand guidelines, and anything else that will drive success.” #UpworkSpotlight
“I enjoy helping people see the vision and goals for their company come to life. I love when a client receives a brand strategy that I have developed for them. They are generally amazed that I captured what they were after. It makes me feel good that I have assisted another client have the tools to reach their target audience.”
“There is a huge benefit to hiring a freelancer to do your job. Often you will have access to a much more skilled professional than perhaps you could afford to have on staff full time. You get access to their experience and talent without a long-term commitment. For smaller companies, it is essential. You may be small or a startup, but you can hire someone that has worked for Fortune 500 companies to design your brand strategy or do a brand refresh. It is really a no-brainer.”
“I have been a full time freelancer for almost two years. I started out of the necessity of working from home with a husband who had just recently had a stroke. As a National Brand Manager corporately, running the entire B2B division of a successful company, I realized that I could still do what I loved, while being close to home. Since that time, we have also adopted two younger children. The flexibility that working from home offers me has been tremendous. I can be a successful professional delivering results for my clients while working around a schedule that works for my family.”
“This is one of the most enjoyable jobs I have ever had. I love having new clients, including some old familiar ones. Getting to do what I do best and being able to deliver results is wonderful especially while working according to what is best for me and my family.”
In honor of Black History Month, we asked Shari to reveal what the month means to her. “Black History Month is a moment to celebrate achievements by members of my race. It is inspiring to continue to see the wonderful achievements African Americans have made despite multiple challenges that historically try to prevent success. I am always inspired by the commitment to excellence, the drive to succeed and the pride in achievement that we all can share in.”
“The single most important part of running and winning your own race –is recognizing that you are enough and that you are an original.” — Robert F. Smith. Art Director Marco C. created this custom illustration from businessman and entrepreneur Robert F Smith’s address to the American University's School of International Studies graduating class of 2015.
Why did this quote speak to Marco? “It’s a message we all need to hear. You are enough. We should all challenge ourselves to be the best versions of ourselves. Trust your instincts. Take risks. Finding the path that works for you. I could easily count myself out in an industry that doesn’t look like me but I would much rather have a part in changing it for the better.”
“‘Winning your own race’ stood out to me,” Marco said. “Depicting characters running felt like a great metaphor to showcase the drive and determination in finding your own path. and not letting anyone stand in the way of that.” We couldn’t agree more! Thank you for helping us honor Black visionaries and artists during #BlackHistoryMonth, Marco.
Meet Sam Cook, expert SEO writer, copywriter, and editor. Sam provides well-researched, expertly written content to his clients, primarily in B2B technology, software, insurance, and financial niches. #UpworkSpotlight
“I began freelancing part-time while I was employed as a high school English teacher. Within a year, I decided to freelance full-time as my part-time freelance income began to match my teaching income. By year two, I had surpassed my teaching salary. I've now been working as a freelance writer for over five years.”
“Upwork's community is one of the most dynamic you'll find in the freelancing world. It brings together people with disparate backgrounds all focused on a single goal: Earning an income while doing work we love. I attribute my success as a freelancer to the format Upwork's provided. In fact, I consider it an essential inbound marketing tool. Coupled with excellent service, Upwork helps my freelance business succeed, as it does for many others.”
“I love having the opportunity to build relationships with new, interesting people who are exceptionally driven. As a business policy, I see myself as a partner with my clients instead of just a service provider.”
How does Sam ensure his clients have a great experience? “Two words: communication and delivery. Every great relationship starts with friendly, down-to-earth and frequent communication. This is followed up with on-time delivery (and in most cases, delivery ahead of schedule). As Jethro Gibbs stated in a Season 17 episode of NCIS, ‘If you're not early, you're late.’”
In honor of Black History Month, we asked Sam to share what the month means to him. “Black History Month is a reflection on the societal progress that has allowed equal access to work opportunities and the fulfillment of the ‘life, liberty and happiness’ concept established in the Declaration of Independence. Upwork is a 21st century reflection on that idea, helping to democratize work in a way that allows clients to pick talent based on performance, instead of arbitrary racial barriers.”
All month, we’re highlighting Black team members who help make a major impact at Upwork. Today, meet Dariyan Hopper, a Recruiter who supports both sales and marketing. The best part of her role? Dariyan loves having the opportunity to drive diversity inclusion and belonging through the hiring process. Thank you for being such a valuable member of our team, Dariyan!
We asked how Black History had influenced her career, Dariyan shared the inauguration of the United States’ first Black President, President Barack Obama, really impacted her. “My grandparents paid to fly my siblings, cousins and I to Washington D.C. to witness such a great moment in history. It was definitely an experience I'll look forward to sharing with my future children one day.”
Very glad that this is happening. I know Upwork has taken part in many initiatives that have supported the Black community.
Is there any information about the impact that efforts like The Upwork Freelancer Fund, SBA Paycheck Protection Loan Progam partnership with Veem and the Unite to Fight Covid-19 Startup Weekend have made in terms of directly engaging or supporting the Black community?
With the pandemic and climate issues so disproportionately affecting our community livelihoods, in addtion to this wonderful set of freelancer features you are running, it would be so powerful to see the tangible results of Upwork's ongoing efforts to support Black talent.
That is a great question and callout!
For the Unite to Fight Covid techstars weekend you can find a list of the winners here. Upwork also had the "Work Together Talent Grants", where we gave $1 million in talent grants to help businesses hire top professionals from Upwork for projects that counter the impact of COVID-19. and you can find the list of winners here. Many of the recipients were minorities and Black talent/ businesses with intiatives and missions directly supporting the Black community.
I dont have information readily available on the numbers in regards to Freelancer Fund, SBA Paycheck Protection Loan Progam partnership funds that went towards the Black community, but I will share your question with the team to see if there is any data available that we can pull and share.
Thank you for your feedback and keeping us accountable.
Glad to see this and enjoyed reading the posts.
(Wish I'd gotten an email notification about this thread. I don't keep a very close eye on this page, only check in when other FLs comment there's something of interest.)