Uber exec says white men need to ‘make noise’ about diversity
The responsibility shouldn't rely solely on people of color, she says
Uber’s Chief Brand Officer Bozoma Saint John is calling on white men to actively diversify their workplaces.
Since taking the position last June, Saint John has made it her mission to revitalize the global car sharing company, often stressing the importance of changing the conversation about workplace culture and diversity.
“I want white men to look around in their office and say, ‘Oh look, there’s a lot of white men here. Let’s change this,'” Saint John said at the SXSW festival on Sunday.
“Why do I — as the Black woman — have to fix that? There’s 50 of you, there’s one of me. Y’all fix it. … Everybody else needs to make the noise — I want white men to make the noise.”
Uber, released its first diversity report in March 2017, which showed that it had no technical leaders who are Black or Hispanic. Among non-technical leadership positions, 3.7% were black and 1.2% were Hispanic.
Saint John, who left her marketing leadership job at Apple Music for Uber, says those disappointing stats are commonplace when it comes to Silicon Valley tech companies.
“The number of African Americans in Silicon Valley is dismal. It’s not up to one company — it’s up to the entire industry to make sure that we are moving the conversation forward. Sometimes those walls of competition need to come down so we can move the entire industry forward.”
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To those who say this issue is in part due to a lack of women and minorities applicants in the pipeline, her response is simple: “That’s bulls–t,” Saint John asserts.
She hypothesizes that the real hurdle is that people in those circles tend to stick to what’s familiar and makes them comfortable. As a result, they don’t seek people who have different backgrounds and lived experiences.
“It’s not a pipeline issue,” she said.