My trip to San Francisco for AfroTech was a beautiful, unforgettable and inspiring experience. Not just because it took place at the gorgeous Palace of Fine Arts, but if you watched my Instagram stories you probably saw me get a bit choked up as I walked into the venue after being moved by the Black Excellence in the building.
Tech leaders, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, you name it – they were there. And they were all black. Now let me repeat that. They were all BLACK.
If you are not a minority you probably can’t Imagine growing up seeing the majority of people that look like you constantly being portrayed in media and film as prisoners, criminals, gangsters, hustlers or slaves. And you might not be able to imagine going to school or work every day and being the only person of colour or rarely seeing people of colour in powerful senior and executive positions. How do you think that might impact what you envision for yourself and your future? What impact do you think that might have on how you are viewed and portrayed by others?
I say this because sometimes you don’t realize the power of representation until you see it with your own eyes. Sometimes you have to see people that look like you achieving greatness in order for you to truly feel like it is a reality for yourself. Sometimes, you have to witness #BlackExcellence to believe that it is real. This is why representation matters.
While at AfroTech, I got to connect with this talented and inspiring set of women in this photo above and I also got to connect with the Uber team so that I could learn more about #UberHue, an employee resource group that promotes Black diversity, culture, and inclusion for all employees at Uber.
I got to speak with employees about their personal experiences at Uber and how they’ve been empowered and championed in their roles in the organization.
The investment that Uber has made in their black employees is impressive. They are combining capabilities, harnessing potential and fostering black excellence inside and outside of the organization. It is not only the right thing to do, it is also a great business decision and here’s why:
1. Diverse cultural perspectives inspire creativity and drive innovation
2. Cultural sensitivity and local knowledge means that you can take advantage of higher quality local marketing
3. Drawing from a culturally diverse talent pool allows an organization to attract and retain the best talent
4. A diverse skills base allows an organization to offer a broader and more adaptable range of products and services
5. And with a diverse team there is greater opportunity for personal and professional growth
All in all, this was an experience that I’m truly grateful for and will never forget. We need more companies that see the strength and value of diversity because it pays priceless dividends in more ways than we can imagine.