Serena Williams takes job on Silicon Valley board, wants to improve tech diversity

Serena Williams takes job on Silicon Valley board, wants to improve tech diversity
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Tennis champion Serena Williams is joining the board of online polling service SurveyMonkey, with the goal of helping technology companies increase their ailing diversity.

"I feel like diversity is something I speak to," Williams told The Associated Press. "Change is always happening; change is always building. What is important to me is to be at the forefront of the change and to make it easier for the next person that comes behind me."

The AP said that Williams didn’t offer specifics for what she would do in her new role but that she sought to help push the company and industry in a more diverse direction. Williams said that she was disappointed that most of Silicon Valley’s high-paying jobs were filled by white or Asian men.

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The online polling company’s own diversity efforts aren’t having much success. Twenty-seven percent of its technology positions are occupied by women, and only 14 percent of its total employees are African-American, Latino or multiracial, based on numbers provided to AP.

SurveyMonkey is hardly an outlier. Major firms such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon and others have struggled to make their work forces less homogenous.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion has experience breaking into and thriving in primarily white spaces.

Williams has gained increasing familiarity with Silicon Valley with her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who is based in San Francisco. She is also friends with Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, who serves on SurveyMonkey’s board as well.

"I have been really interested in getting involved in Silicon Valley for years, so I have been kind of in the wading waters," Williams said. "Now, I am jumping into the deep end of the pool. When I do something, I go all out."