“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,’” Bozoma Saint John reportedly said at SXSW. “Why do I — as the black woman — have to fix that?”
Uber exec to white men: Step up.
Bozoma Saint John, chief brand officer for the scandal-scarred startup, urged white men during a SXSW appearance Sunday to “fix” workplace diversity issues plaguing the industry.
“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,’” she said, per CNN. “Why do I — as the black woman — have to fix that? There’s 50 of you, there’s one of me. Ya’ll fix it. … Everybody else needs to make the noise — I want white men to make the noise.”
Saint John, who came to Uber in June from Apple marketing, went on to deem representation of African-Americans in tech “dismal” — and call “bull—t” on the idea that the “pipeline” lacks sufficient women and minority candidates.
“It’s not up to one company — it’s up to the entire industry to make sure that we are moving the conversation forward,” she said. “Sometimes those walls of competition need to come down so we can move the entire industry forward.”
A diversity report released by Uber last March revealed no black or Hispanic employees held tech leadership positions at the company, which has weathered multiple scandals over the past year and seen the exit of CEO Travis Kalanick. As for non-tech leadership positions, 77.8% were held by white people, 17.3% by Asian people, 3.7% by black people and 1.2% by Hispanic people.
An internal probe by ex-Attorney General Eric Holder last year — spurred by former Uber engineer Susan Fowler’s public claims of gender discrimination and sexual harassment — called on the company to boost its head of diversity’s profile and rename the position “Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer,” among other recommendations. The company in January hired Bo Young Lee as its first chief diversity officer, Recode first reported.
The lack of representation of people of color — particularly women — is a Silicon Valley-wide problem. “Female executives who were black, Latina or multiracial were nonexistent at eight of the 23 (polled) companies, including Adobe Systems, Google and Lyft,” an October report from the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting found.
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