Bozoma Saint John 'White Men' Need to Diversify

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diversity
uber

(Brandon Bhangoo) #1

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It seems that finding the right person for the right job is not about finding the right person but finding the right cultural mix of people for a workplace. This is not a new concept, it is about bringing equality into every walk of life, and by helping socio-economic and cultural groups that are stigmatized by centuries of white history, reach positions that are closed to them generally.

You might think the US is still stuck in the 1950's based on the above sentence, and in a way, you are correct. There is an underlying psychological undercurrent of inequality, that is fostered by both sides of the cultural divide. There is the relentless smug superiority of a white history battling stigmatized complexed culturally diverse society.

While there is a spate of "black" killings by "white police" there was at the same time and Afro-American President, so there is an issue of imbalance, where people still view all blacks as being criminals and suspect, while the white society, as corrupt as it may be, is still considered in a better light. This oxymoron of daily life in the US is what is fueling Bozoma Saint Johns drive in Uber to create a more culturally diverse workplace. This is especially good when considering that the drivers for Uber are made up of every walk of society and culture, ranging from the traditional Christian white male to the newly immigrant Iraqi Muslim, or Venezuelan single mum.

Uber's Chief Brand Officer, Bozoma Saint John said in a recent podcast that "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."

What Saint John is looking for is equality in the workplace without damaging the integrity of the quality of service. There are a lot of good people in the marketplace and what she wants is for white male employees to look around and reach the same conclusion that she has reached. She supported this stance by saying "Why do I — as the black woman — have to fix that? There's 50 of you; there's one of me. Y'all fixes it. … Everybody else needs to make the noise — I want white men to make the noise."

What makes Saint John angry is the supposition that there are fewer women and culturally diversified people available in the employment market. As Saint John aptly replied to this "That's bulls–."

Saint John was hired after Uber was accused of being culturally lacking in diversity, which is a nice way of saying it was an all-white male society. This was not totally true, but close enough to the mark, so Saint John was recruited to be the person in charge of changing customer relations as well as building a new corporate culture for Uber. This act was followed by taking on Dara Khosrowshahi as CEO so that the head is not a white male, but an Iranian immigrant with a very successful past.

Uber is fighting its white stranglehold on key positions by trying to find more black, Hispanic and Asian managers to lead the company forward. During 2017, Uber's management team consisted of only 3.7% black and 1.2% Hispanic. These numbers do not fall far from the accepted range in Silicon Valley.

Saint John acknowledged this issue and stated that "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."

Our conclusion is this; there is a lot of cultural bias in the US, it is apparent and obvious, different groups tend to eye each other with suspicion, and there is a lot of latent racism between different groups. It is not a white and black thing anymore, it is a colored, religion and cultural heritage thing that is constantly splitting society. Silicon Valley is no different, but Uber can change, where there are so many successful and capable people in every culture and the diversity is as abundant. You just need to look at how business is successful in every country, and how Uber is found in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and is operated successfully by locals, to realize that the cultural bias that holds back the percentage of coloreds in Uber


(Andrew Martin) #2

I agree with this article, I think that there are two issues being discussed here:

  1. Latent racism in the US
  2. Employing the right person for the job.

If I own a company and I want to employ the best, I don’t look at color, creed, religion or whatever, I look at the persons relation to the job, is that person the best fit for my company. Is that person the best fit for the job description, the professionalism, as well as the fit into corporate culture. If there is a decision to be made, it wont be around color!

This brings me to the second part of the equation, latent racism as an excuse to force so called equality into systems that are seeking the best employees.

I don’t know the statistics of race and professionalism, I cannot attest to how many people work in Silicon Valley and what color they are. I now that in my last workplace there were as many variations of color as there are colors in nature. The company employed white, black, brown and yellow…and after eating some of the canteen food, there was green and blue too.

My boss didn’t give a shit what color you were, or whether you were Suni, Shi’a, Catholic, Baptist, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu or wiccan or even an atheist, So long as you did the job you were employed to do properly, you were paid and even incentivized.

While I fully understand Saint John’s frustrations, I cannot see how demanding from white guys to think about who they work with, goes in line with effective management. It’s like asking the average German to look around and think how many of them are not Jewish, or asking Saudi Arabian Sunni’s to look around and see how many re not Shi’ite. OR even going to India and asking the average Indian to see who is not Pakistani…its not up to the “white male” to decide who is employed. It’s up to the employer to make this decision.

Perhaps I am naïve, but as far as I know, Uber is not a racist organization. I could go on, but nuff said for now.


(Steve Mann) #3

I don’t see why white men should worry about black men in work places? its not about white and black, its about corporate American and who is the best for the job. I also worked in a few companies that were extremely multi-racial, and my bosses were black, Hispanic and Asian, of which two were women too. I didn’t notice the difference, except that women tend to be sexier then men…but that’s because I am hetero, although there have been some good looking guys at work too, damned my lack of a six pack abs.
My take on this, yes, we need more colored people at work, its time to paint ourselves up, so that skin color makes no difference, maybe I will paint myself mauve tomorrow?