Tag Archives: diversity

Netflix Names Verna Myers to VP of Inclusion

Verna Myers

Streaming television service Netflix has named Verna Myers to its newly created post of Vice President, Inclusion Strategy.

Although the post is new the relationship between Myers and Netflix is not. Netflix stated in the announcement that  Myers has worked with the company as a consultant. In her new role she will “devise and implement strategies that integrate cultural diversity, inclusion and equity into all aspects of Netflix’s operations worldwide.”

Myers has been the name and face of The Vernā Myers Company,  a consulting group that focused on issues of diversity and inclusion. Myers has written and spoken on this topic extensively.

Netflix has made incredible efforts at bringing in diverse talent and content into its entertainment offerings. The streaming giant has signed some of Hollywoods biggest African-American producers to produce content including Kenya Barris and Shonda Rhimes.

In a statement Meyers said; “I have been a longtime fan of the inclusive and diverse programming and talent at Netflix, and then I got a chance to meet the people behind the screen. I was so impressed by their mission, their excellence, and decision to take their inclusion and diversity efforts to a higher level. I am so excited and look forward to collaborating all across Netflix to establish bold innovative frameworks and practices that will attract, fully develop, and sustain high performing diverse teams.”

 

 

 

 

Tech Diversity Still a Struggle

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) payed another visit to Silicon Valley last week with the intent of holding tech companies feet to the fire for more diversity. Apple, PayPal, Twitter, Square, and Airbnb were on the schedule. The CBC has made this trip twice before but this time they expanded the number of members on the trip to include Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).

Waters said during a panel discussion at Lyft,  “I’m not urging, I’m not encouraging. I’m about to hit some people across the head with a hammer.” Waters, referred by some CBC members as the “The Enforcer”  said, “I’m talking about some regulation. I’m talking about using the power that our voters have given us to produce legislation and to talk about regulation in these industries that have not been talked about before.”  Waters threat can only be considered valid if the Democrats regain control of the House and Senate in November.

Diversity numbers for tech companies are stagnant at best. But some companies have shown improvement. Uber showed that its corporate workforce (excluding drivers and support contractors) consisted of 2.6 percent black employees in 2018, up from just 1 percent in 2017. Twitter reported having 3.4 percent black employees in 2017, compared to 3 percent in 2016.

But Uber’s Chief Brand Officer, Bozoma Saint John, believes the key to diversity in the tech sector is held by white men. Saint John believes it is up to “white men to look around in their office and say, ‘Oh look, there’s a lot of white men here. Let’s change this.'”

According to CNN Saint John asked; “Why do I, as the black woman, have to fix that?There’s 50 of you, there’s one of me…I want white men to make the noise.” Saint John labeled the idea that diversity problems are rooted in a lack of suitable female and minority job candidates as “bullshit.” She believes the problem lies with hiring practices that favors what is comfortable to those doing the hiring.  In January Uber hired its first Chief Diversity Officer, Bo Young Lee.

The CBC also made other requests of Silicon Valley companies during the visit. In addition to the demand for more diversity the CBC asked that tech companies help fund more affordable housing for communities in need and combat the impact of gentrification. Other legislation the group is also considering includes the Community Reinvestment Act requiring financial institutions to meet the needs of the low-income communities. CBC members are also raising money to assist girls, people of color, and the poor receive STEM educations. 

Breaking It Down

Although I applaud the efforts of the CBC to improve diversity I don’t believe this is the right way to do it. Threats are not going to change a lot in this situation. Especially threats that are toothless unless the Democrats flip Congress.

If blacks and people of color are to make gains in tech employment we need to focus on creating a rich pipeline of candidates. Yes, there are plenty of talented black software engineers and project managers in the job market. But we need to incorporate Silicon Valley companies into the education process. I would urge Rep. Waters to introduce legislation that would benefit tech companies who invest in black campuses as teachers. Encourage them to create programs that move a talented student of color progressively from the classroom to an internship and eventually full time employment. Find a way to gently conjole these companies into recruiting and training capable candidates for jobs that may not have considered.

My anger with this issue, and I have said this before, is that major sports companies can go into the worst schools in the nation and select the next great linebacker or point guard. But tech companies ignore this business model. Its right before their eyes and yet they remain blind. Rep. Waters, if you read this, that is where you need to be. Don’t threaten them but show them the way.

 

 

 

Black Women Enter the Boardroom

Black women are clearly leading the charge to bring diversity to corporate boardrooms. In the past weeks black women have taken positions of leadership at some of America’s biggest and best known tech corporations.

Susan Rice

Netflix announced that, Susan Rice, former national security advisor and ambassador to the U.N. has joined it’s board of directors.

Rice continues to build on a long and distinguished career that includes serving two presidents. Currently Rice is serving in multiple roles as a Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow at American University’s School of International Service, Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Contributing Opinion Writer for the New York Times.

In a press release Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wrote, “We are delighted to welcome Ambassador Rice to the Netflix board. For decades, she has tackled difficult, complex global issues with intelligence, integrity and insight and we look forward to benefiting from her experience and wisdom.”

Rice responded by saying, “I am thrilled to be joining the board of directors of Netflix, a cutting-edge company whose leadership, high-quality productions, and unique culture I deeply admire.”

Rice holds a Master’s  and Doctorate in International Relations from New College, Oxford University, England, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She earned a Bachelors degree in History from Stanford University . In 2017 Rice received the Award of Commander, Legions of Honor of France from French President Francois Hollande for her contributions to Franco-American relations.

Edith Cooper

Edith W. Cooper has joined the board at Etsy.com. Etsy.com is global marketplace for handcrafted goods. Cooper brings to Etsy 30 years of leadership experience in management and sales across the financial services industry. Cooper’s career includes stints as the former Executive Vice President and Head of Human Capital Management at Goldman Sachs. Cooper was responsible for the recruitment, development, promotion, and welfare of 35,000 employees around the world. She held positions at Morgan Stanley and Bankers Trust and is a member of the Board of Directors of Slack, the Museum of Modern Art and Mt. Sinai Hospital.

Etsy CEO Josh Silverman said of Cooper, “With Edith joining the board, we gain significant talent-management expertise, based on years of experience at leading global financial institutions. We are also honored that a person who called Brooklyn her home for many years is now working hand-in-hand with us to make our tech company even more successful. We are looking forward to Edith bringing her wealth of knowledge to Etsy providing guidance as we continue driving growth and empowering the 1.9 million creative entrepreneurs who rely on our marketplace.”

Richelle Parham

Richelle Parham took her seat on Best Buy’s board. Parham was named to Black Enterprise’s 2015 Most Powerful Women in Corporate America.  She is a partner at Baltimore based private equity firm Camden Partners Holdings, a private equity firm that provides growth and seed capital to lower-middle-market companies in technology, business services, education, and healthcare.

Parham brings 25 years of experience in global strategy and marketing to her role at Best Buy. Parham has exhibited her leadership in numerous corporate roles that include vice president and chief marketing officer for eBay before joining Camden Partners Holdings in 2016.  From 2008-2010 she served as chief of Global Marketing Innovation and Initiatives and head of Global Marketing Services of Visa Inc. For 13 years she held a variety of leadership positions at Digitas Inc. including general manager of the company’s  Chicago office. She has been a director of Ranir L.L.C. since September 2017 and was independent director at Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings since 2016. She has also held senior leadership roles at Rapp Worldwide and Citibank.

“I am delighted to join the Board and look forward to working with Hubert and the other directors as Best Buy continues to execute on its vision to enrich people’s lives through technology,” Parham said.

Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey

Intel Corporation, maker of computer chips has announced Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey is joining its board of directors. Lavizzo-Mourey is a public health expert and is currently the PIK Professor of Health Equity and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. She served for more than 14 years as the CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is a board member of manufacturer General Electric Co. and oil and gas company Hess Corp.

Lavizzo-Mourey is the fifth director to join Intel as an independent director with no material relationship to the company.  Intel has pursed such members since 2016. The chip maker is rapidly expanding into data heavy computing fields such as the data center, which handles information coming from connected devices and services such as autonomous vehicles, and health care. Lavizzo-Mourey will join other black female executives at Intel that include Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Aicha S. Evans and Barbara Whye, Intel’s chief diversity and inclusion officer

In an email Whye wrote; “We know she will bring a unique and important perspective to our board as we continue to drive diversity and inclusion within Intel and the technology industry.”

 

Black Woman to Lead Diversity at Lyft

Nilka Thomas

Lyft, the chief rival to Uber in the ride sharing market, has named Nilka Thomas as its new Vice President of Talent and Inclusion. Thomas will  oversee recruiting, inclusion, diversity and employee relations.

Thomas is a native of  Anchorage, Alaska and attended the University of Oregon where she was an All-American in track and field. She graduated with a degree in psychology and sociology. Prior to joining Lyft Thomas worked as the Director of Global Diversity, Inclusion and Governance at Google. Thomas is now the highest-ranking member of the Lyft team focused on inclusion and diversity.

Lyft wrote in its blog that “Nilka will lead efforts to source and hire top talent, and ensure that inclusion and diversity efforts are seamlessly integrated from the earliest candidate touch points.”

Thomas is following in the steps of other black women who have taken on the challenge of diversity in the work place. At Apple Denise Young Smith was charged with improving diversity. At Twitter Candi Castleberry-Singleton has been named Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity. Neilsen Holdings, an audience measurement company,  named Angela Talton as its new Chief Diversity Officer.  At  Pinterest Candice Morgan was named as the Diversity Chief.

See also: Black Women Leading Corporate Diversity Programs

Kenneth Chenault Joins Facebook

Kenneth Chenault

American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault has joined Facebook as its first African-American Board member. Chenault will officially join Facebook on February 5th after 16 years as AmEx CEO. 

Chenault, described by the Wall Street Journal as “one of the country’s most prominent African-American corporate leaders,” will become the first non-white member of Facebook’s board of directors. 

This move by Facebook is an effort  to address the diversity issues that face Silicon Valley. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer told the Congressional Black Caucus in October that Facebook would hire a black board member “in the foreseeable future.” 

Chenault has been a recruiting target for Facebook years according to Mark Zuckerberg. In a Facebook post Zuckerberg wrote, “I’ve been trying to recruit Ken for years. He has unique expertise in areas I believe Facebook needs to learn and improve, customer service, direct commerce, and building a trusted brand. Ken also has a strong sense of social mission and the perspective that comes from running an important public company for decades.”

Facebook, the worlds largest social network, is fighting to clean up its image when it comes to race. The company has faced withering criticism around its ethnic affinity marketing technology that allowed marketers to exclude minorities from ads related to housing. It is unclear how the Chenault hiring will impact this area.

 

 

Apple’s Diversity Chief Departs After Just Six Months

Denise Young Smith

Denise Young Smith, a 20 year Apple veteran, is departing her job as the first Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion after just six months. Smith has announced she will be accepting a position as executive in residence at Cornell Tech in January.

Smith’s departure was planned but comes on the heels of a controversial comment made in October.  Smith was speaking on a diversity and racial injustice panel at the One Young World Summit in Bogotá, Colombia. She was asked by Quartz’s moderator Aamna Mohdin  if she would focus on any specific group in her diversity efforts. Her reply was not well received. Smith said she wouldn’t single out any one demographic for advancement. Her comment, transcribed by TechCrunch is as follows;

“I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to the people of color or the women or the LGBT or whatever because that means they’re carrying that around… because that means that we are carrying that around on our foreheads. And I’ve often told people a story—there can be 12 white blue-eyed blonde men in a room and they are going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation. The issue is representation and mix and bringing all the voices into the room that can contribute to the outcome of any situation.”

Silicon Valley has a serious diversity problem and Apple is not immune. Apple’s workforce numbers show that only 9 percent of Apple’s workforce is African-American, 12 percent Hispanic, 19 percent Asian and 56 percent white. It’s not a pretty picture when you consider that most non-white employees are found in  Apple’s retail stores. Smith was expected to at least make progress on the issue but not a lot has changed. However, she was working on developing Apple’s diversity scholarship program.

Realizing she had fumbled the issue Smith emailed her team following the comments;

Colleagues,

I have always been proud to work for Apple in large part because of our steadfast commitment to creating an inclusive culture. We are also committed to having the most diverse workforce and our work in this area has never been more important. In fact, I have dedicated my twenty years at Apple to fostering and promoting opportunity and access for women, people of color and the underserved and unheard. 

Last week, while attending a summit in Bogota, I made some comments as part of a conversation on the many factors that contribute to diversity and inclusion. 

I regret the choice of words I used to make this point. I understand why some people took offense. My comments were not representative of how I think about diversity or how Apple sees it. For that, I’m sorry. 

More importantly, I want to assure you Apple’s view and our dedication to diversity has not changed.  

Understanding that diversity includes women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and all underrepresented minorities is at the heart of our work to create an environment that is inclusive of everyone. 

Our commitment at Apple to increasing racial and gender diversity is as strong as it’s ever been. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made, but there is much work to be done. I’m continually reminded of the importance of talking about these issues and learning from each other. 

Best,

Denise

Breaking It Down

This was  a sad day for the idea of diversity in Silicon Valley. People of color thought Apple had appointed a warrior to fight the diversity fight. Perhaps they did. Perhaps Smith misspoke. People do that. But her statement reveals how severe the diversity problem is in Silicon Valley boardrooms. A boardroom that she was apart of. Did she feel not focusing on a single group was an effective strategy? Again, perhaps. But diversity is about bringing in different colors of skin as well as ideas. Its about inclusion. I believe her when she said she believes in that. What she failed to realize is that ‘blue eyed blond white men” are not what her job asked her to bring in. This is just not what diversity advocates want to hear from a person in her position. Wrong choice of words Ms. Smith but lets move on. Smith is a women. A black women. A successful black women. A successful black woman at the world’s most successful company. She was in a position to change things, to make difference, To find other women and minorities who are as capable as her and look like her. I’m not going to label her a failure. But she clearly stumbled.

 

 

Facebook and Intel Report Diversity Improvement

Maxine Williams, Facebook’s Executive Diversity Chief

Facebook’s surprising diversity report showed marked improvement in hiring of women and minorities. While the report shows that Facebook is still overwhelmingly white and male the improvements show that Maxine Williams, Facebook’s Executive Diversity Chief, is having an effect on the company.   Facebook’s report revealed 35 percent of its staff  are women, up from 33 percent a year ago. The number of number of women in leadership positions is up a percent to 28 percent.

Even with these improvements retention of female employees in the tech sector is a another challenge. Women are leaving the industry after hire in the face or sexism and other bias. So these numbers for Facebook can only be considered an improvement if women stay on with the company.

The report shows an increase of Hispanic employees of 4 to 5 percent and African-Americans by 2 to 3 percent. However the guys at the top are still white men making up 71 percent of the company leadership. No change there.  The rest of the company leadership is held by Asians at 21 percent with other groups holding only 2 to 3 percent.

How is Williams making change happen? Along side the diversity report Williams blogged about initiatives she believes are improving Facebook’s hiring and workplace culture. She pointed out the  “Diverse Slate Approach,” which encourages consideration of applicants who don’t look like the hiring managers.  According to Williams Facebook has discovered that “the more people you interview who don’t look or think like you, the more likely you are to hire someone from a diverse background.”  Facebook’s “Managing Inclusion,” training program teaches managers to consider what issues affect under-represented groups.  Facebook believes that this training helps to build an understanding of how these employees or applicants arrived in tech the industry and what obstacles remain.

Williams believes Facebook is moving in the right direction but said, “We aren’t where we’d like to be.”

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich

Another major tech company is also touting its diversity improvements.  Intel has reported that its diversity program is actually two years ahead of schedule.  In a recent blog post Intel CEO Brian Krzanich claims Intel is two years ahead of its original diversity plan. “We set out to achieve by 2020 an inclusive workforce that reflects the diversity we see every day in the world around us,” he wrote. “Doing this would bring the number of female, Hispanic, African-American and Native American employees in Intel’s 50,000-strong U.S. workforce to full representation.” According to Krzanich the goal is now moved up to 2018.

Krzanich, in a stand against racism, resigned from President Trump’s American Manufacturing Council after comments the president made about the events in Charlottesville that one left one woman dead. According to Krzanich he wants to “…call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues…”

Intel’s mid-year report shows the company’s five-year plan is on track to bring full representation of  women, African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans in both technical and non-technical jobs. According to Intel full representation is defined as the “full market availability of women and underrepresented minorities.”

“In December of 2014, our gap to full representation was 2,300 employees. Today that gap has narrowed to 801 people, a 65 percent improvement, said Krzanich.

But like Facebook and other tech companies white and Asian men still represent  almost all top management positions. More than 90 percent of Intel’s mid to senior-level technical roles are white and Asian men.  Intel is also dealing with a retention problem with women and minorities. The company says it has added “diversity playbooks” and other programs to help managers hire and retain under-represented groups.

Although diversity in the tech sector is a real issue, and progress is epically slow, there is progress. According to workplace culture and company review platform Comparably  companies are doing better.

Comparably has come out with a list of the top ten companies that are doing better than most in the area of workplace diversity. The scores of these companies are on a 0-100 scale and based how female employees rate their experience at the company. The diversity score is based on how employees of color rate their experience at a company. Here is Comparably’s list for women.

For diversity

 

 

 

Intel Drops $4.5 M on HBCUs to Increase Retention in STEM College Majors and Careers

Written by Robin White Goode for BlackEnterprise.com, June 27th, 2017

 

Intel Corporation announced the Intel HBCU Grant Program, a three-year, $4.5 million initiative, to help retain students in STEM pathways at six historically black colleges: Florida A&M University, Morgan State University, Howard University, Prairie View A&M University, North Carolina A&T State University, and Tuskegee University.

“The key goal of the program is retention, in college as well as in STEM careers,” Barbara Whye told me, Intel’s chief diversity and inclusion officer and vice president of Human Resources. “We’re working to increase retention rates in partnership with the universities.”

This is not an easy goal. The New York Times has previously reported that black people make up 1% of the tech workforce at Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twittermaking this demographic the least represented of all underrepresented groups.

Intel’s Commitment to Diversity

In January 2015, Intel announced its goal to reach full representation in 2020, across all categories, from entry level positions, to the senior vice president, as well as among the Intel Fellows—which is the highest technical role at the company—Whye says. “Full representation” is determined by what’s available in the employee “market.” For example, if 25% of those with engineering degrees are women, Intel’s goal is to employ 25% or higher women engineers by 2020.

Intel is one of 80 companies that agreed to a White House pledge last year to increase diversity; of those companies, it’s been reported that only seven have released data about their progress, of which, Intel is one.

“We are serious about this commitment,” Whye says. “We’re one of the few still monitoring and reporting transparently about our progress. We’ve committed $300 million to invest in diversity and inclusion in our Intel workforce.”

The Intel HBCU Grant Program

The Intel HBCU Grant Program may hold promise in supporting the company’s achievement of its goals. The six HBCUs were chosen because they grant degrees relevant to Intel—in computer science, electrical engineering, and computer engineering.“These degrees fit within our relevant space. About 80,000 workers at Intel have engineering degrees,” Whye says, who also has a B.S. in electrical engineering.

She also explained that the program was developed with input from the schools themselves.“We spent nine months on the ground with the university presidents, in conversation. A lot of times, companies design programs for universities instead of having conversations with those universities, but we talked through its development.”

Another great aspect of the program is that it’s based on what research has shown to contribute to student success. Whye explained that, in order to increase retention for STEM students, key success factors are access, awareness, opportunity, role models, hands-on research, a quality curriculum, and knowing how this work makes a difference. “The program is designed around these key success factors,” Whye says.

The three-year program will also bring professors from the six campuses to Intel, so they can engage in annual workshops, and take back what they learn to their schools.

Internships and two-year scholarships are integral to the program. Black employees at Intel will also have the option of getting involved, by “adopting” one of the six schools or mentoring a student.

For more information about the Intel HBCU Grant Program, visit this website.

Twitter Names Black Woman to VP of Diversity

Candi Castleberry-Singleton (Twitter)

Candi Castleberry-Singleton has been named vice president of inclusion and diversity at Twitter. Castleberry-Singleton replaces Jeffrey Siminoff who resigned in February.  Castleberry-Singleton has a long track record in the field of diversity and inclusion. Previously she worked at some of America’s top technology companies including Motorola where she was vice president of global inclusion and diversity. At Sun Microsystems she led the Global Inclusion Center of Expertise. She also worked in sales and marketing at Xerox.

In a statement Castleberry-Singleton said, “I’m so excited to join the team at Twitter to lead inclusion and diversity efforts for employees and the Twitter community. I look forward to bringing what I’ve learned to Twitter.”

Twitter, like many tech companies, have faced criticism for the lack of diversity in its workforce. Twitter has been hit with high turnover in its diversity leadership position. The company has seen three diversity chiefs depart since 2015.

Castleberry-Singleton takes over a position in a company that is popular among African-Americans.  Pew Research reported that  28 percent of African-American and Latino Internet users use Twitter compared to 20 percent of Internet users who are white use it.

Twitter is the second major tech company to turn to an African-American woman to solve their diversity issues. Recently Apple named a black woman, Denise Young Smith, to head it’s diversity efforts.

Castleberry-Singleton is the founder of the Dignity and Respect Campaign an organization that focuses on providing open and respectful workplaces for all ethnicities.

A native of Los Angeles, Castleberry-Singleton possess extensive educational credentials with an MBA from Pepperdine University and a bachelor’s degree in legal studies from UC Berkeley. She also completed the Stanford University Executive Human Resources program.

 

 

Troubled Uber Hires Black Woman to Manage It’s Brand

In case you haven’t heard Uber is having it’s troubles right now. First there was the video of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick berating an Uber driver leading to his apologizing and asking for leadership help. Then there was the scandal involving Uber using technology to avoid government monitors. Uber drivers are suing the company for unpaid wages. Now an Uber board member has resigned after making a blatantly sexist remarks during a board meeting about sexism in the workplace. And now Kalanick has resigned as CEO but will remain on the board of directors. The company is in turmoil to say the least.

Enter Bozoma Saint John. Saint John is joining Uber as the new Chief Brand Officer. Saint John is departing Apple to accept the position. At Apple Saint John was head of global consumer marketing. She also headed up music and entertainment marketing at PepsiCo, where she struck a massive $50 million sponsorship deal with Beyonce.

Embattled Uber CEO Kalanick said in statement to Fortune, “Boz has a long track record of successfully creating emotional connections between people and the products they love. Her creativity and deep understanding of consumers will allow us to build the same love and appreciation for Uber’s brand as we’ve built for Uber’s service.”

This is a good move for Uber. The company is facing severe scrutiny for alleged sexual harassment in the work place. The claims have forced Uber to hire former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct an internal investigation. But hiring a black women for the job of cleaning up the brand and adding diversity to the executive staff can only help the battered company. This year alone Uber has had top leadership quit. This includes its number two executive Jeff Jones who departed over concerns about management culture.

Fortune Magazine recognized Saint John as one of its 40 Under 40 last year for her work at Apple Music. Speaking at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women: Next Gen summit in November 2016 Saint John addressed her efforts at trying to fit in as teenager at a Colorado high school. This after spending a good portion of her childhood in Ghana. “I couldn’t be blond, I couldn’t be white,” she said. “At 13, I learned what it meant to walk into a room and not care what everybody thinks of you.”

According to an Uber report issued in March no Black or Hispanic employees hold leadership positions on the technical side. The company said of the findings, “This clearly has to change. A diversity of backgrounds and experience is important at every level.”