Shelton Mercer III
Most of the companies I’ve cofounded have been pretty diverse partnership groups. We’ve had everyone–whites, blacks, Asians. I find that one of the issues [that bothered me is] what happens if you are a confident, dynamic leader with proven results and you’ve built a diverse staff and organization. People say they are comfortable with black leadership–our president faces this every day–but I’ve had issues as CEO, where I’m the one writing the check and a person who I’ve worked with on a major partnership decided he would rather talk to my partner who was white about a very significant deal after I had put in a lot of energy and a lot of work.
So you deal with these subtleties. Even sometimes as a top level leader, you’ll find people trying to work around you, or marginalize you even when they can’t. It’s not always the door being shut in your face, not being able to raise money, or not being able to land a client. It’s the day in, day out of subtle cultural issues and familiarity that you find when a white person decides they just want to talk to another white person.
It was one thing when I was up and coming in my career. But now, being someone who runs the company, to be faced with this all the time–you kind of get used to it, but it still smacks you in the face.
Click here for Part 2, where more tech CEOs weigh in on bias in the tech industry.