5 Black Women in Business Making an Impact
This week, we’re highlighting five inspirational Black women who are disrupting industries and redefining how businesses function – by amplifying inclusion, investing in community, and empowering others from underrepresented communities.
1. Arlan Hamilton, Founder and CEO of Backstage Capital
Four years ago, Arlan Hamilton arrived in the Bay Area with one focus: to invest in founders from underrepresented communities. In an industry in which White men receive 90% of VC dollars, her vision was to close the funding gap for women and people of color. She went from pitching to investors by day and sleeping on the floor at San Francisco International Airport by night, to building a venture capital fund from the ground up.
Today, Hamilton has invested more than $4 million in 100 startups – each led by people who identify as women, people of color, and/or LGBTQ. Most recently, she has established a $36 million fund for Black women founders (who only secure 0.2% of VC funding), which she calls the “it’s about damn time” fund. As the first queer Black woman to build a VC fund from scratch, Hamilton is disrupting how venture capitalists create wealth - and in doing so, is redefining entrepreneurship in America.
2. Candice Morgan, Head of Inclusion & Diversity at Pinterest
Since joining Pinterest in 2016 as the company's first head of Diversity, Candice Morgan has emerged as a trailblazer in her field, and one of the women shaking up Silicon Valley. At Pinterest, Morgan has taken steps to hire more women and people from underrepresented backgrounds, while amplifying inclusion and belonging.
Her latest achievement? Collaborating with engineers, designers, and project managers on the platform's newest search feature that allows you to filter results by skin tone. As the new inclusive search tool demonstrates, building a diverse team is essential to building a product that the entire world can use.
3. Jasmine Crowe, Founder of Goodr
Jasmine Crowe is the founder of Goodr, sustainable food-management company that helps businesses distribute surplus food to local communities in need. Built on the idea that hunger isn't a scarcity issue, but a logistics one, Crowe’s model utilizes blockchain technology to track a company’s food waste from pickup to donation.
Crowe has always been passionate about investing in community - and is now leveraging tech to alleviate food insecurity, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The millennial entrepreneur hopes to show that good business and servicing local communities can be one and the same. She’s raised $1.25 million in funding for Goodr – and shows no signs of slowing down, with a goal to be in 20 cities by 2020.
4. Kimberly Bryant, Founder of Black Girls Code
In 2011, Kimberly Bryant enrolled her 12-year old daughter in a summer coding class in Silicon Valley, only to find that her daughter was the only African American student in her class. The realization inspired Bryant to launch Black Girls Code. The non-profit’s vision is to empower young women from underrepresented communities in the tech industry to “become innovators in STEM fields, leaders in their communities, and builders of their own futures through exposure to computer science and technology.”
Bryant’s goal is to reach one million young women of color by 2040, fundamentally changing the face of technology. By providing volunteer-run trainings, classes, and workshops year-round, Black Girls Code teaches in-demand skills – while also providing young women with the confidence and community to become the next generation of leaders.
5. Rachel Williams, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Stubhub
Rachel Williams joined Stubhub as the Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion after four years at Yelp, and has been an influential voice in the push for diversity in the tech industry. As an outspoken advocate of an approach that centers empathy, Williams recognizes that diversity without inclusion falls short.
In an interview with HRD Magazine, Williams said, “I believe companies need to elevate the emotional intelligence of their leadership team through integrated and immersive workshops - prior to seeking diversity though recruiting programs and initiatives.” By focusing on the retention, rather than just the recruitment, of people from underrepresented backgrounds, Williams’ approach focuses on creating work environments where people of all backgrounds feel like they belong.