Diversity: ‘If It Isn’t There At Your Company, It Will Be, Because America Is Changing Very Quickly’

Written by Dana Sanchez

Instead of forming diversity committees, companies should make diversity their “default state,” says Tristan Walker, founder of a health and beauty company for black people with a staff that is majority-minority and whose products have earned superstar endorsements.

Silicon Valley has a diversity problem, Washington Post reported in 2015. Several tech firms voluntarily become transparent on the extent of the problem, and on how many minorities they hire. Some companies promised to do better and formed diversity committees.

Yahoo admitted blacks made up 2 percent of its work force, and Hispanics, 4 percent. Facebook reported that in 2014 it had employed 81 black people among its 5,500 U.S. workers.

Walker and his company, Walker & Company Brands — especially his Bevel trimmer — have become an iconic symbol for Black founders, Caroline Fairchild reports for LinkedIn.

A Stanford Business School graduate, Walker was an entrepreneur-in-residence at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz before launching his own startup. His company has enjoyed $30 million-plus in funding. He’s been named a USA Today Person of the Year, and gets the kind of media attention money can’t buy.

Walker is using the attention to advocate for more diverse companies. In the past two years, there hasn’t been much progress at companies, he said, and it baffles him:

“There is no shortage of research that shows that diversity leads to better outcomes, so why aren’t people taking this more seriously? I don’t understand the logic. We are sending rockets to the moon in 18 months, why can’t we figure this out? And actually, we do ourselves a disservice by saying we need to “figure out” diversity because, it just is. And if it isn’t there at your company, it will be, because America is changing very quickly.

The existence of a diversity committee at many companies — “they are in every single industry, whether it is tech, finance or insurance” — is a short-term solution to get people off their back, Walker said in the LinkedIn interview:

“That just shows that there is no way that (diversity) will be a default state. It will always be some project and it shouldn’t be. At Walker & Brands, we made it our default state. My advice to them would be to think about what it would take to make diversity your default state. Maybe that will take 10 to 15 years, but you have to have a plan and that plan is different than how you fix things in the next nine months to get people off our backs.”

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