Diversity Group: CEOs Need to Speak Up on Black Killings By Christine Lagorio-Chafkin

Diversity Group: CEOs Need to Speak Up on Black Killings By Christine Lagorio-Chafkin

The fatal shootings over the past couple of days have further ignited ongoing discussions about diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.

With much of the conversation coming from social media platforms, it’s time for more Silicon Valley executives to speak up about systematic racism, Erica Baker, a senior engineer at Slack, said in a Thursday interview with Ellen Pao, former interim chief executive at Reddit.

Baker noted that prominent CEOs, including Salesforce’s Marc Benioff and Google’s Sundar Pichai, have all been quiet on social media about the tragic events. Meanwhile, she points outs, prominent venture capitalist Marc Andreessen is tweeting about Brexit.

“That’s a big deal, but things are happening at home,” she said. “We need to find a way to get those people to give a shit.”

Pao believes that part of the problem is caused by a lack of understanding and ability to relate to the experience. “So, I don’t know any black people that this has happened to, it’s never going to happen to me, so I’m not really worried about it,” she said, referring to the perspective some folks might have on the issue.

The pair have become known as leading advocates for diversity in the tech industry. Both worked together on Project Include, a non-profit aimed at improving diversity in the technology industry. Baker said when she started the organization, companies that approached her were more interested in boosting the numbers of women in their companies. But, she said, “they just completely ignored the idea that there was anything to do with race in Project Include.”

Now, after the killings by police of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, she called out the silence on social media among tech leaders.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, for instance, tweeted about the killings.

“It’s driving traffic and making a difference for their businesses, but they don’t know how to address these issues in their companies,” Pao said. “The same thing that’s happening on their platforms is happening in their companies.”

You can watch the rest of the interview, conducted by Megan Rose Dickey for TechCrunch, here:


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