Serena Williams, tennis player and a businesswoman, has joined the boardroom of a Silicon Valley company, SurveyMonkey. The online poll-taking firm announced the appointment of one of the most dominant tennis stars to its board along with Intuit Chief Executive Officer Brad Smith.
The American tennis icon has made her desire known to help diversify the workforce in the technological companies and this development was the first step for her towards the process. Williams said “I feel like diversity is something I speak to. 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.”
While the 39 Grand slam winner did not specify her goals and objectives for her new endeavor, she feels that her presence would help the firm in a more diverse direction and subsequently might help the industry as a whole to move forward in a similar manner. Although individual board members do not have much influence over the companies they preside over, they are compensated very well for their part-time work. SurveyMonkey did not reveal how much Williams will be compensated for her role in the company.
Williams expressed her disappointment that majority of the lucrative technology sector jobs are being occupied white American and Asian men. At her new company, out of 650 workers employed, only 27% of the jobs are filled by women and around 14% of the total payroll consists of African Americans. The CEO of SurveyMonkey Zander Lurie states that Williams’ inclusion in the board was a positive step in the solution, “My focus is to bring in change agents around the table who can open our eyes.”
Williams further said that, “I have been really interested in getting involved in Silicon Valley for years, so I have been kind of in the wading waters. Now, I am jumping into the deep end of the pool. When I do something, I go all out.”
Williams’ connection with the online survey firm was arranged by her friend and fellow board member Sherryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook.