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Equality

Representation Matters: Leaders Share Racial Equality Quotes on the Importance of Using Your Platform

We asked nearly 30 speakers from the Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and LGBTQ+ tech community — founders, CEOs, executives, authors, activists, musicians, and more — about what it means to drive racial equality. This is what they shared.

Headshots of six speakers from the Representation Matters racial equality summit
Hear from racial equality leaders and advocates at Representation Matters, our annual racial equality summit.

Over the last year, our society experienced a racial reckoning that was long overdue where deep inequalities were underscored. This was the tone of our fourth annual racial equality event summit, Representation Matters, presented by Deloitte Digital, on July 22, 2021. Our company focused on courageous conversations around racial equality and using our platform to elevate voices from underrepresented communities

The virtual event serves as a platform to elevate tech’s most underrepresented communities — Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and LGBTQ+. We learned from an inspiring lineup of Trailblazers, including executives, social justice activists, mental health advocates, and founders. We heard first-hand industry experience from Morgan Stanley, Blavity, Backstage Capital, We Are All Human, and more.

Systemic change and an increase in representation requires more than conversation; it takes action. And we are dedicated to being guided by and amplifying the voices of Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and LGBTQ+ community members to get to where we need to be. We’re not just making space. We’re changing the space.

It’s important to lead and increase access to the technology industry and business for communities of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community — people who have been “underestimated” as our panelist, Arlan Hamilton, author, venture catalyst and founder, Backstage Capital, said. 

Below are highlights from this year’s Representation Matters, our annual racial equality summit.

Why does representation matter?

Anthony Ramos at Representation Matters

“Representation, to me, is so important in all lines of work, especially in what I do. What if all lines of work resembled what the world looks like? It would make what we’re doing better, more impactful, and relatable to more people.” 

Anthony Ramos, Grammy Award-winning and Emmy-nominated actor / singer and star of the film, “In The Heights”

Arlan Hamilton at Representation Matters

“I noticed that when I started shifting and using the word ‘underestimated’ [versus underrepresented]…people’s ears perked up. That competitive nature that brought them to venture capital to begin with – you could see that being awakened. Because if you’re underestimated, they’re thinking, ‘Well, what am I missing?’ You are underrepresented if there are not enough of you representing. But to say, ‘Wait, I’m underestimated’ – that instills a certain empowerment to the person themselves. And I think that’s where the real change happens.”

 – Arlan Hamilton, author, venture catalyst, and founder, Backstage Capital 

How do you use your platform for change?

Angelica Ross at Representation Matters

“At the end of the day, when you look back in hindsight over your life, you will realize the moment you woke up to your own personal power was the moment things really started to shift.”

– Angelica Ross, Emmy-nominated actress, producer, advocate, and founder, TransTech Social Enterprises

Why align your career with purpose?

Lupita Nyong at Representation Matters

“When you’re fighting for representation and you’re fighting for space it’s exhausting, and it can be draining. It’s important to always be refilling your own cup, because if your cup is not full then you cannot possibly have enough to share.”

Lupita Nyong’o, actress, producer, and author

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez at Representation Matters

“We need to create new opportunities for the world to understand what visions we have for the future, how we see ourselves, our people, and our communities.” 

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, advocate, leader, activist, and hip-hop artist

Megan DeBaun at Representation Matters

“It’s so important that Blavity and other media companies who are coming after us know that we don’t need other people’s permission to tell our own stories. We can do it on our own. We can work with great companies and corporations who care about Black people, Black consumers, and the Black audience in an authentic way. And we don’t necessarily have to ask for permission anymore because of our power collectively. ” 

– Morgan DeBaun, founder and CEO, Blavity Inc.

How can we all close the racial wealth gap?

Edgar Villanueva at Representation Matters

“We have to move beyond that charitable mindset of sprinkling resources. Getting backpacks to kids is good, but we also have to go deeper in our analysis about the historical and systemic problems that are in place that actually lead to disparities in education for kids of color.”

– Edgar Villanueva, author, philanthropist, and founder, Decolonizing Wealth Project

What’s the meaning of Black excellence?

Luvvie Ajayi at Representation Matters

“Black excellence does not mean you’re perfect; it means you are living the life that you feel is most true to you. Black excellence is poetry. It’s rest. It’s Black style. It’s Black entrepreneurs and Black people who are working at a company. Black excellence looks like a lot of different things.” 

Luvvie Ajayi, New York Times best-selling author, podcast host, and professional troublemaker

Robin Washington at Representation Matters

“Being a leader is about thinking of all the others that you can help bring along. Excellence is broader than just you as an individual, but how you bring your true self and really advance others.” 

– Robin Washington, strategic adviser and board member

Elaine Welteroth at Representation Matters

“Black excellence is a state of mind. It’s a state of being. I think it could be a set of actions or accomplishments. I think, at its best, it creates space for other Black folk, creates opportunities, can instill a sense of possibility. I also want to say it could be simply solidarity, it could be self love. I don’t want to put Black excellence in a box because Black people cannot be put in a box.”  

Elaine Welteroth, co-host of CBS’s “The Talk,” New York Time best-selling author, award-winning journalist, and former editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue

At Salesforce, equality is a core value and we are committed to driving equality for all — that includes equal opportunities and creating a workplace that reflects our society. There is still work to be done on this path toward equality, and using our platform for these important discussions is only one step along this path. In 2020, we established the Racial Equality and Justice Taskforce to help drive systemic change in our workplace and community, and we will continue to provide updates on our equality efforts. Learn more at Salesforce.com/Equality.

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