OAKLAND, Calif. — Last month I spoke at a gathering of African-American technology professionals. I’m a transactional lawyer at a tech company and my husband is an engineer, so the industry is at the center of our lives. We have careers that allow us to help create products and tools our grandparents would never have thought were possible and to provide the kind of life for our family that they couldn’t have imagined. And it’s important to us to ensure that other people of color have a chance to contribute to the field and reap its benefits. With all those things on my mind, I left the conference energized and inspired by the ways in which tech is changing the world and the possibilities it holds for our community.
Discussing her work at Apple at an event last week about fighting racial injustice, Denise Young Smith, the company’s vice president of diversity and inclusion, said, “There can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blond men in a room and they’re going to be diverse, too, because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation.”
It’s almost that time of year when America’s top tech companies release their annual reports offering the public a glimpse into the number of underrepresented employees across their ranks.While they offer a glance into how companies are faring in the diversity department, they don’t tell the full story.
These vital lessons resonated with me and they can help guide you, as well.
The beauty of the Black family, since arriving on these shores, has been multi-generational families and extended communities to comprise your village. Grandparents, in particular, are people you saw at least three times a week, if not everyday. The backbone of those families are Black women, and fabulous matriarchies. My lineage is no different. My grandmother was my favorite person on earth, and before beginning a nine-year battle with Alzheimer’s and succumbing in 2014, she imparted much wisdom.