by G. Brown
First the first time in its 11-year-old existence, Facebook is nominating an African-American woman to join its elected board.
The nominee in question is Peggy Alford who USA Today describes as a “prominent technology executive“.
Alford moved to the front of the technology world pack when she left Paypal two years ago only to return this year as Senior V-P of Core Markets for the corporation. Alford’s LinkedIn page says she heads up commercial teams for the online payment system in some of the largest markets including the U.S., Canada, and Switzerland.
Black Enterprise calls Alford a “Silicon Valley veteran” who “held executive positions at eBay and Rent.com.”
In her own words, Alford says she is excited to join Facebook and the platform’s efforts to “face hard issues head-on while continuing to improve on the amazing connection experiences they have built over the years...”
Many will applaud Facebook’s laudable goals to diversify. But the accolades seem less deserved when you consider Facebook is being forced to diversify its boardroom. The Congressional Black Caucus is actually the motive behind the move towards multiformity. Blacks congressional leaders and civil rights leaders like the Reverend Jesse Jackson pressured Mark Zucker to bring more Black execs to their boardroom.
The problem of a lack of diversity isn’t a Facebook problem, but a reflection of the lack of diversity within the high-tech industry as a whole. It’s also endemic of most board room and executive echelons.
Fortune Magazine says “80% of high ranking officials are men and 72% of those men are white.” The magazine based its findings on a small sample of about 16 companies which leaves a large margin of error of about 24%. A little over 6% of women are CEO’s of major corporations and that’s at an all-time high.
Alford has impeccable credentials and is a top-tier candidate? So why did it take pressure from Blacks in Congress to make sure big tech companies like Facebook to even notice her?
If there are competitors out there with better qualifications, they should be hired. But if the cream of the crop is being omitted because of the color of their skin or their gender, then we as a society have not reached to the ‘color blind’ consummation of the 14th Amendment. As such, all those protests and court battles to abolish Affirmative Action seem a bit premature.
The very existence of the constitution reminds that when left to do the right thing, people have to often be forced by rule of law to do so. And even after the 13th Amendment set slaves free, there was still a need to create a 14th Amendment to say ‘now give them jobs, education, housing’. An in spite of the law, people still sidestep it with a simple “you’re not qualified” or “a better candidate applied” to continue to keep minorities out of certain jobs.
Kudos to Alford on her nomination to Facebook’s board, but let’s not sugarcoat how she got there. If anything is evident under this current administration it’s that America is indeed a melting pot where people of color and other minorities have to continually turn up the heat or get burned by the illusion of equality and justice for all.