Last week, Mark Zuckerberg spent two days in Lagos, Nigeria, stopping first to visit the Co-Creation Hub, a tech “pre-incubator” that supports a wide variety of start-ups and social entrepreneurs. (I spent the better part of a day at the Co-Creation Hub last year, while reporting this story on Bono’s One Campaign. It’s an incredible epicenter of potential and talent.)
Next, he hoofed it across town through the legendary Lagos traffic to Andela, a talent accelerator which recently closed a $24 million Series B funding round lead by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the fund established by Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan.
All in all, a potentially transformational visit for both Zuckerberg and Nigeria.
As pointed out by both Quartz Africa and Techpoint, a wonderful Nigerian tech blog, Zuckerberg’s decision to visit – and invest in – Nigeria, as opposed to some other African countries with more established tech hubs and better infrastructure, may have been influenced by the high-ranking Nigerian executives who work at Facebook.
There are some 15 of them, and they’ve been doing some pretty important stuff:
Read the entire list here.
One name immediately jumped out at me. I met Olaoluwa Okelola, a young engineer, in 2011 when I was reporting my third Facebook feature for a different business magazine. I had been pestering Facebook since 2007 to help me understand the lack of diversity in their engineering ranks, and to explain why I never got to meet any black or brown employees of any kind during my reporting trips.
And then I got to meet one.
Sure, he was from Howard University, but by way of Nigeria? I had been hoping for a whiz kid from Chicago or Newark. Hell, Greenwich, Connecticut, even. I was surprised, and not in a good way. This is not what I meant when I said diversity!
My face still burns with a hint of shame at my initial reaction.
Meeting Okelola was a revelation. Charismatic, talented and beloved by his peers, he quickly helped me move past my initial pro-American bias – which he addressed directly with kindness – to begin to think about the importance of diversity in a broader, global sense. Succeeding while black in tech did not have to be a zero-sum game, he said. There was value in everyone. By pointing out my bias, he gave me a gift.
Though I still want every whiz kid from an overlooked U.S. zip code to get their fair shot – and still plan to keep pestering the tech sector to do better – the time I spent with Okelola helped me to be a more open reporter, and able to think about diversity from more than one perspective.
And ultimately, to walk the streets of Lagos looking for ways to understand and connect, not divide and conquer.
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|There is always more work to do, yes. But this year’s offering continues to surprise, delight and inspire. And the women of color who have made the list are part of a growing pool of talent that will shape C-Suites and corporate boards for years to come. Enjoy.|
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|Little progress in diversity in Hollywood, according to report|
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|Looking for meaning in the Colin Kaepernick madness|
|Jason Gay, the popular Wall Street Journal columnist, offers 16 poignant thoughts on the Colin Kaepernick situation, that all boil down to the same basic sentiment: We should listen to each other more. Wherever you are on Kaep, he says, “He has shown a willingness to engage with people on the topic, whether they agree or not.” What would the world be like if we did that for each other?|
|Wall Street Journal|
The Woke Leader
|How to enhance your reputation on social media|
|If you’re a senior leader looking to develop rapport with millennial customers and showcase your expertise, a new survey suggests that strategic sharing on social media is a smart move. And people expect you to be there: the Global Street Fight Study, conducted by G&S Business Communications and Harris Polls, shows that the presence of senior leadership on social media is important to two-thirds of the general public and three-quarters of millennials. It’s an even smarter strategy for executives of color. Skip the cat videos, though. Register to get the whole survey.|
|The first transgender model of color stayed hidden in plain sight|
|Those of a certain age remember when seeing a black face adorn a Clairol hair color box in the 1970s was radical stuff. That it was Tracey “Africa” Norman, who was also the first transgender model of color to achieve widespread success – including walking the couture catwalks of Paris – remained a secret for years. Her life is a history of oppressive social norms and extraordinary strength.|
|New York Magazine|
|How leaders lose their way and what to do about it|
|Berkeley psychology professor Dacher Keltner has a thoughtful piece on how the virtues that get you to the top – like sharing, openness and collaboration – tend to disappear abruptly when leadership success is achieved. This “power paradox” explains the bad behavior (and inability to impact corporate culture) that characterizes many top shelf leaders. His remedy? Cultivating self-awareness and empathy.|