Why tennis player Serena Williams invests money in IT development

Serena Williams at the French Open Tennis Championship, June 6, 2012 / © Kate Tann / flickr

Promises of equal rights and civil rights movements have led many American universities and colleges to spend efforts on attracting African-American students. Some of the students choose engineering and mathematics majors. But so far, everything is bad with the representation of the black population in the IT giants. There are ten times fewer African Americans working in such companies than the percentage of them living in the United States.

Anthony Mays, for example, grew up in one of the poorest areas of Los Angeles – in Compton. In 2013, he began working as a software engineer at Google.

At that time, only 2% of Google employees were black, and there were even fewer of them among engineers – 1%. In total, 13% of people with dark skin color live in America.

When Mace saw these statistics, he decided to do something. Alex started helping African Americans prepare for interviews. In the process of this volunteer work, he discovered that their qualifications are not lower than those of other races. They both knew a lot and were ready to work selflessly. But they did not know how to present themselves, they did not know how to tell about their skills in order to get a dream job.

Mace even left Google to carry out a mission to prepare underappreciated black programmers and engineers for a career in tech giants. He joined the Brilliant Black Minds program, established by a recruitment agency located in Seattle. Anthony helped applicants to compile resumes and prepare for interviews so that their chance of getting a dream job became higher.

The Brilliant Black Minds system allows you to practice how to behave at interviews for free. Programmers and engineers received feedback that helped improve negotiation skills. Later, leaders of the African-American IT community began to join the program, who told what they wanted to see in the resume, how to bargain about salaries and bonuses.

And now this program has received a second wind. Tennis player Serena Williams said at the eMerge Americas conference in Miami that she would invest in Brilliant Black Minds. Together with the founders, she sets a plan to double the number of black programmers in the high-tech industry in the near future.

Serena Williams / © Featureflash / Shutterstock.com

Williams is a superstar in the world of sports. But this is not her only advantage. The tennis player’s capital earned on the card invests in various startups. Her investment firm Serena Ventures has raised about $111 million for a program to diversify the representation of races in the IT industry.

– The high–tech industry is focused on solving the biggest problems of humanity, – says 41-year-old Serena. – I focused on making sure that these problems are solved by all of us.

Recently, the interest of African-American youth in a career in the programming environment has been growing. Companies of the Amazon or Google level are considered the highest goals on the career path in this field. But they don’t always have a chance: a diploma alone is not enough.

The Brilliant Black Minds Foundation helps applicants for positions to find gaps in knowledge, identify ways to obtain first practical skills in order to increase the likelihood of employment in a large company.

Anthony Mace himself did not go to Google on the first attempt, he did not know what questions would be asked at the interview. And when I heard them, I was confused. But I decided not to give up: I put all the questions together and started training. He conducted experimental interviews with experienced engineers so that they could see his weaknesses. And only when one of the senior colleagues said that he was ready for an interview, he returned to the personnel department of Google again. And he was accepted! Mace decided to scale this experience to help other novice specialists.

Serena Williams saw huge prospects in this approach. So I decided to choose the Brilliant Black Minds program for the next investment tranche. Previously, she had already invested in events to popularize cryptocurrencies among the black population of America.

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