Did John Thompson Break Silicon Valley’s Racial Glass Ceiling?


John Thompson, Microsoft Chairman. Source: Microsoft.com

John Thompson, Microsoft’s Chairman of the Board. Source: Microsoft.com

It’s no secret that Silicon Valley is not known for its diversity. Sure there are some minorities working there but not many. There are also some blacks heading up start ups but those numbers are depressingly low. According to a 2010 report by CB Insights: 87% of Venture Capitalist backed start-ups were white, 1% Black, 12% Asian, 1% American Indian and 7% Other. That changed this week when John Thompson became the new chairman of the board of Microsoft, succeeding Bill Gates. Thompson was once CEO of Symantec.

This is pretty big. The number of minorities heading up companies like Google, Apple or Facebook is close to non-existent.

Does Thompson taking this position mean he’s broken the racial glass ceiling of Silicon Valley? Breaking may be too strong a word. I’d say he has definitely put some cracks in it by taking this position. Additionally, seeing someone who looks like them always encourages other minorities to try and get ahead in the tech field, which is a good thing. Diversity breeds innovation.

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