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In 2021, Don’t Be an Ally, Be an Accomplice

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It’s New Year’s Eve 2020, and I’m sure we are all thinking the same thing: “Thank you; next”.

Seriously, what a year; but, onwards and upwards.

On a personal note, 2020 has been a uniquely challenging, yet incredibly meaningful year for my career — launching Google’s first Accelerator programs for both women founders and Black founders.

Running a program for Black entrepreneurs as a member of the Black community myself, I was more in a rhythm than I’ve ever felt professionally. It was comfortable, natural, and authentic to be able to support black entrepreneurship — not to mention timely and appropriate to dedicate my team’s attention and resources to the Black community given the current climate.

Almost in lockstep, Ashley Francisco and I also launched and graduated Google’s inaugural Google for Startups Accelerator program for women founders. And, as one might expect, running a women founders program was a stark contrast of an experience for me, as I shifted (literally from one Google Hangout to the next) to being the only one in the room — in a way that I had rarely experienced in a professional setting.

Google for Startups Accelerator: Women Founders leadership luncheon event with Meg Whitman

Leading up to the program, I worried about the optics of a man co-leading a program focused on celebrating women in leadership. I was filled with an anxiety of ‘misstepping’ — a feeling that I had felt before entering into spaces as the “only”; however, the anxiety was complemented by the fear of being an ironic representation of the exact issue facing women and other underrepresented members of the tech ecosystem.

Do not be the self-righteous “ally” who does more harm than good despite ‘well-intended’ motivations.

In retrospect, as someone who considers themselves comfortable in most situations, I am embarrassed that I almost let my personal discomfort overshadow the importance of leading such an impactful program. From the moment the program kicked off and until the day it ended, I felt nothing but enriched and privileged to be able to dedicate myself to the support of 15 amazing women founders, their teams, and their companies.

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