The Important Reasons Why Jesse Williams Wants To See More Diversity In Silicon Valley

“I view this as an opportunity to lead by example."

Grey's Anatomy star Jesse Williams has a short-yet-powerful message to the tech industry: "Stop excluding Black people." Williams — never one to shy away from discussing racial injustices, as seen in his impassioned speech at the 2016 BET Awards — didn't stop there with his commentary about Silicon Valley.

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"The con around this word diversity is that it's an additive thing. It's a burden. It's a new thing that you have to add. You are already doing the action. The action is excluding us," Williams told USA Today. "We all need chances, access, and opportunity. So you can start there."

The State of Black America 2018 study found that, while Black people are likely to use smartphones and thrive on social media sites, they make up fewer than 5 percent of the industry's workforce. For example, USA Today notes that both Facebook and Google fall below that threshold, with Black workers making up 3 percent and 2 percent of their employees, respectively.

"I view this as an opportunity to lead by example, to try and pave a way, and knock on and down some doors," Williams, who plays Dr. Jackson Avery on the ABC series, added. And do that he has, having created the apps Ebroji and BLeBRiTY — with much more to come.

And don't think that he's just slapping his name on something that will make him money. It's about "narrative," it's about "culture," and it's about "controlling our images in media."

"Black communication style, trends, behavior, speech patterns, dances, [and] fashion are the cutting edge and are at the forefront of culture in this country yet we don't own anything, we don't operate anything, [and] we don't employ anyone," Williams continued.

This is why Williams — who recently earned a Webby Award — is using the platform he has been given and that he has created to normalize the Black experience in tech and "stop waiting for the middle man, stop waiting for White America or corporate America … to validate and sell it back to us."

What Williams is pushing here won't just benefit Black employees and other employees of color, it will benefit all. There are many benefits of diverse workplaces, including driving innovation, increasing creativity, and capturing more of the market — just to name a few. The common denominator here is that having diverse people also brings new ideas, something that every business could use more of.

Cover image: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

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