Should companies advertise themselves as black-owned?
Why race should not ‘matter’ … and why it does to me anyway
In my line of work, I talk to entrepreneurs and contractors — a lot. And my smile is always a bit bigger when I connect with black-owned businesses outside of music and sports. That’s no knock to music and sports; it’s just that we’ve been connected to those two industries for so long that it feels like a go-to. No one is surprised when Andre starts his own music label. They are, however, surprised when Andre is one of the head marketing executives. (Salute to “Black-ish.”)
But I had a conversation a few weeks ago with a business and tech entrepreneur, and our discussion was about whether black-owned companies should lean heavily on “all black everything” — especially in an industry that is not “all black everything.” Calendly immediately popped into my mind while talking to him. Whenever I set up an interview, there’s about a 75% chance that someone will send me a Calendly link to set up a mutual time. I don’t know why this particular app took off at the rate it did, but I heard about it one time and it seemed like the whole world was using Calendly but me.
Now imagine my surprise when I saw this TechCrunch report and found out that startup company Calendly, which is worth $3 billion, is owned by a Nigerian man named Tope Awotona. I’d been using this calendar option for months and never bothered to look at who owned it; I thought I already knew the “look” of the man who did. If not for a photograph of him in the TechCrunch post, I’m not sure how long it would have taken me to figure it out. Quite frankly, it’s not especially important for me to know in order to set up my next meeting date. But I’ll be damned if it’s not refreshing to learn.