When presenters at the Crunchies, an annual technology award show, announced Monday night in San Francisco that the software company Slack—an internal-messaging program used by companies—had won the Fastest Rising Startup Award, most people expected two, maybe three white dudes to walk onstage to accept the award.
But when Slack’s name was called, four black women walked up instead.
When they got there, they explained who they were and why they were there: to send a powerful message about women of color who are engineers in the rising tech space.
“We’re super excited to accept this award on behalf of everyone at Slack,” one of the women said as she read from her smartphone. “We’re engineers, so we came prepared …
“There are many things that are major keys to the success of Slack, not least of which are diversity and inclusion,” she continued, causing the audience to cheer and burst into applause.
“The idea that diversity at companies improves the culture and the bottom line may be somewhat controversial, but all we know is we’ve got 9 percent of women of color engineering at Slack—four of whom are up here tonight, in ‘Formation,’ ” she said.
Yep, she referred to Beyoncé’s new single and video, “Formation,” which is widely thought to be a call for black women to slay, all day.
“And we’re the fastest-growing enterprise-software startup of all time. So … ?” she trailed off as she and the other three women raised their hands in a puzzled gesture, as if to say, “Tech companies, what’s your excuse for your lack of diversity? We’re diverse and successful. Now what?”
It was a great moment. Kudos to Slack for sending such a powerful message about diversity to its peers in the tech space.