Silicon Valley Is ‘Bleeding So Much Black Talent’. Where’s It going?

Silicon Valley Is ‘Bleeding So Much Black Talent’. Where’s It going?

There’s a whole lot of talk about diversity and inclusion at Silicon Valley tech companies, but retention is missing from that conversation, says Anthony Frasier, the CEO of a New Jersey-based multicultural branded podcast network. 

Frasier is the entrepreneur-in-residence with Newark Venture Partners, and CEO of ABF Creative.

He was a speaker at the 2017 Black Enterprise TechConneXt Summit, interviewing Chief Equality Officer Tony Prophet from Silicon Valley-based cloud computing company Salesforce, and then leading a roundtable panel discussion afterward.

“It was really about going beyond the bullet points on how to solve tech’s diversity problems … and figuring out what’s really going on and why we’re bleeding so much black and multicultural talent out of these tech companies,” Frasier said.

Moguldom caught up with Frasier at the summit. “Thank God we live now in a culture that’s embracing other locations,” Frasier said. “I’m glad about the progress in that area.”

Here’s part of that interview:
Moguldom: Why is it important to talk about retention at Silicon Valley firms?

Anthony Frasier: These people hardly stay. If you hire 10 black people and then nine leave, what does that mean? We need to start talking about that. A lot of people think that inclusive culture (means) we need to be embracing other cultures. Culture fit means I’ve got to conform to fit a certain culture. Why can’t we all have our own thing and become a melting pot and bring it together? Why can’t we do that? Most companies don’t do tha, unfortunately.

Moguldom: What surprised you from the interview with Tony Prophet?

Anthony Frasier: It didn’t necessarily surprise but confirmed what I already thought — that there’s a lot of lip service going on. You say you’re all about diversity and inclusion. Why aren’t you showing up? It’s more than just about jumping on the camera. We have to hold a lot of people’s feet to the fire and really get them to jump out there and really look for the talent they claim they’re looking for.

Moguldom: What are you doing in your company?

Anthony Frasier: At ABF Creative we’re working with a lot of these larger companies to create branded podcasts for multicultural audiences. We work with diversity officers and anyone in the company that wants to create authentic, relevant content that gets people excited to not only come and work for the company but just enhance their own reputation.

I love storytelling. I’ve been in the tech industry so long I just wanted to find a way to mix my love of tech with storytelling. Creating these branded podcasts is one of the best ways I can do this. I’m just happy Black Enterprise is doing this. We need more. I would love to see it happen in Oakland. That would be my one suggestion.

We have a lot of young people in Oakland that don’t get a chance to cross the bridge and see something like this. We need a lot of those young people here.

Moguldom: What’s the difference between Oakland and Silicon Valley?

Anthony Frasier: The difference is black people. There are people who’ve lived in New York City their entire lives and have never seen the Statue of Liberty or Empire State Building. There are people who live in Silicon Valley — the Bay Area, the home of tech — and have never been in an environment like this, have never seen Google, have never met anyone from Apple but they live 20 minutes away from here.

Who you know is how your life turns out.  If you don’t start creating those networks where we are, then the network never gets created. It’s really important. Thank God in 2017, 2018, you don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to make it happen. You can do it right where you are.

There are people in Oakland who are creating that ecosystem. There are people in Miami like Felecia Hatcher making it happen. In New Jersey, I’m working with a lot of great people to make it happen there. There are people in Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles. Thank God we live now in a culture that’s embracing other locations. I’m glad about the progress in that area.