Janet Emerson Bashen
Women of color in tech is a rare sight to be seen. In the last decade the topic of representation and diversification in the industry has been brought to the forefront and inclusion efforts have been made. Venture Capitalism funds have been provided for minority and women owned tech ideas and companies. In the 1990’s, when the internet was on its way to becoming a way of life for the world, one of the first women to venture into the tech industry was Janet Emerson Bashen.
Janet Emerson was born February 12, 1957 in Mansfield, Ohio, to an ER nurse and a garbage collector. She was raised in Huntsville, Alabama where she received her primary and High School education. She then went to Alabama A&M University, an HBCU where she met her husband Steven Bashen.
She and her husband moved to Houston where she completed her education at the University of Houston, studying legal studies and government. Bashen continued her graduate studies at Rice University’s Graduate school of Administration and Harvard University. After, she graduated from Tulane Law School with a Master of Jurisprudence and Employment Law.
Like most inventors and entrepreneurs her idea came from seeing a need. Bashen worked for an insurance company that dealt with Equal Employment Opportunity claims. After making a suggestion to the CEO that was denied, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She borrowed $5000 from her mother and in 1994, started her own company, Bashen Corp. to handle EEO compliance and complaints.
She saw the way the internet was growing along with her own business, and saw a need for better ways to store and access data. She began developing a software that could do this task as well as combine EEO compliance and case management. This software became Linkline and when she received her patent for it in 2006, she became the first African American woman to own a software patent.
Bashen has also developed AAPLink, a software which assists companies in meeting requirements set forth by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. This was followed by 1-800Intake, an online service designed for employees to report workplace complaints and other software under the Linkline brand.
Bashen Corp., the human resources consulting firm she started, is the top consulting company in the niche market of Equal Employment Opportunity Compliance. It is preferred by numerous Fortune 500 companies, City & State governments, Educational institutions, and Nonprofits.
Bashen is a frequent lecturer on EEO and fair practices in employment. She has been featured on numerous TV and print publications and she is an award winning entrepreneur. She has written many papers and articles on the subject of EEO, Diversity, Affirmative Action and Fair Employment Practices.
As we continue to look for more diversity in tech, let us remember pioneers like Janet Bashen. She made history with her patent, built a company from the ground up that was started in her living room with one client and the ambition to succeed. And succeed she did. We salute you Janet Bashen, you are an inspiration to us all.