Silicon Valley has a diversity problem (I feel like I start every article about Silicon Valley and diversity like that). But Silicon Valley is actively seeking ways to improve its current standing. The solution won’t come overnight, but a continued effort is being made to solve the issue. The recent appointment of Serena Williams to the board of SuveryMonkey seems to be a new solution within the tech sector (i.e. appoint a famous diverse person to help promote diversity) and one which may or may not pay off.
As I write this, I’m a bit nervous of what the outcome of this new appointment will be. There are a million ways this can end up bad for Serena Williams and only one way this can end in a positive. For starters, although Serena Williams is probably the greatest female athlete of all time, she hasn’t really done much in the tech sector. Yes Williams does have experience in business, after all securing endorsement deals and managing a clothing line does take talent, she does not have much in workplace diversity and Tech. What makes the situation additional complex is that her boyfriend and Reddit Cofounder does have experience in both and may have had a hand in her recent appointment.
According to the LA Times, by way of the AP, SurveyMonkey, “employs about 650 workers, only 27% of technology jobs are filled by women. Just 14% of its total payroll consists of African Americans, Latinos or people identifying themselves with at least two races.” As much as I respect and support Williams, I can tell you from personal experience, her presence will not be enough to diverse a $100 million tech company.
No one has currently figured out the solution to increased diversity, but Williams is a pillar of the African American community so she will have an opportunity to create change if she’s committed. Still, I hope that if this does not go well, people won’t pin this on Williams ability and shy away from giving others a chance to do the same. While I congratulate her on her success, I am skeptical on her experience, but I’m not against the appointment.