Tennis star Serena Williams has 39 Grand Slam titles, 4 Olympic Medals, Major Endorsement Deals and Her Own line of Clothing & Accessories. Now she is embarking on a New Mission: She says “I want to help tech companies diversify their workforce’s and solve one of the industry’s most vexing problems.”
Hi Everyone Today We Will Talk About Serena Williams New Innings in Silicon Valley
Serena Williams, will get her chance as she joins a Silicon Valley boardroom for the first time. Online poll-taking service SurveyMonkey announced Williams’ appointment to its Board, along with Intuit CEO Brad Smith.
“I feel like diversity is something I speak to,” Williams said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Change is always happening, change is always building. What is important to me is to be at the forefront of the change and to make it easier for the next person that comes behind me.”
Start Of A New Inning
Serena Williams said this is her first corporate board seat, and she wanted to move to new arenas that suit her recent business efforts in fashion. “I am an Entrepreneur and I am drawn to opportunities that are innovative,” she said. “The more I learned about this company, the more I felt their core values were close to mine.”
“I have been really interested in getting involved in Silicon Valley for years, so I have been kind of in the wading waters,” Williams said.
“Now, I am jumping into the deep end of the pool. When I do something, I go all out.”
– Serena Williams
Her connection to SurveyMonkey came through her friendship with Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s (COO) Chief Operating Officer and another member of SurveyMonkey’s Board. Sandberg’s late husband, Dave Goldberg, was SurveyMonkey’s CEO before he died in 2015 while the couple was vacationing in Mexico.
Williams didn’t offer specifics about her goals as a Corporate Director, implying that her very presence can help push the company – and, by extension, the industry as a whole – in a more diverse direction.
Individual board members don’t usually exert great influence over the companies they oversee, although they are often compensated handsomely in cash and stock for their part-time work. SurveyMonkey, a private company, didn’t say how much Williams will be compensated.
Diversity In Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley’s lack of diversity has become a recurring source of embarrassment in a region that has long sought to position itself as an egalitarian place that doesn’t favor one gender or ethnic race over another.
Tech firms based in Silicon Valley have been accused of failing to deal with sexism and a lack of diversity.
Yet that philosophy hasn’t been reflected in high-tech workforces, despite the efforts of companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook to fix the problem. Not much progress has been made since diversity became a hot-button topic in Silicon Valley.
Racism is something Williams confronted and overcame at an early age when she began playing a predominantly white sport. She grew up to become the top-ranked female tennis player in the world.
Williams’ appointment is part of the solution, according to SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie.
“My focus is to bring in change agents around the table who can open our eyes”
– Zander Lurie (CEO, Survey Monkey)
Zander Lurie said Serena Williams “Obviously has totally different skills sets, we are well represented with Silicon Valley experience, but to know Serena is to know what greatness looks like.” Among her attributes, he added, were also her activism, philanthropy and voice around issues like the gender pay gap.
Williams has been hanging around Silicon Valley more frequently now that she is engaged to high-tech entrepreneur, Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of the online forum Reddit. Like many other African-Americans, she says she’s disappointed that the vast majority of high-paying technology jobs are filled by white and Asian men.
Diversifying Silicon Valley isn’t the only item on Williams’ agenda. Like a lot of rich athletes, she is interested in becoming more involved in the business opportunities amid the high-tech boom in Silicon Valley. She says she is already exploring other opportunities in the area, but isn’t ready to provide further details yet.
At SurveyMonkey, which employs about 650 workers, only 27 percent of technology jobs are filled by women. Just 14 percent of its total payroll consists of African-Americans, Latinos or people identifying themselves with at least 2 races, according to numbers the company provided to the AP.
According to a 2016 survey, 60% of women working in Silicon Valley experience unwanted sexual advances and there have been several high-profile lawsuits, including one brought by former Reddit chief executive Ellen Pao.
Uber also hit the headlines recently after a female engineer said misogyny was rife at the firm.
Anne-Marie Imafidon is one of the UK’s leading campaigners for getting more girls and women into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. She thinks the appointment is a good one.
“As a black woman, it is refreshing to see such a public figure take on this role. The celeb factor could be a good one and someone like her can change the social norm,” she said.
Picture Credit- @Serena Williams/twitter