Bärí A. Williams is an attorney and business operations executive and startup advisor in the tech industry. She is the former Head of Business Operations Management for North America at StubHub, where she was responsible for business planning and operations to manage and oversee technical internal and external metrics, product innovation, and partnerships and drive P&L results across the company. She serves as an advisor to startups in the enterprise and e-commerce space.
Prior to StubHub, Williams was a senior commercial attorney at Facebook supporting internet.org connectivity efforts, building drones, satellites, and lasers, and supporting the company’s supply chain. She also successfully took on the passion project of creating and implementing Facebook’s Supplier Diversity Program, launched in October 2016. Williams is also an accomplished speaker, and writer, and her bylines include The New York Times, Fortune, WIRED, The Root, and Fast Company. She’s extremely passionate about tackling the growing issue of lack of diversity and inclusion within the tech industry and is recognized as a diversity activist and advocate. I spoke with Williams about the common misconceptions when defining diversity and inclusion, what companies in Silicon Valley could be doing to create a more inclusive workplace and the importance of representation.
From Lead Counsel at Facebook to Head of Business Operations, North America at StubHub, you are well versed in law, technology, and business. Share your career journey.
My mother exposed me to many different people, cultures, and careers as a child. My mother was a public school teacher for 40 years, as was my grandmother and one of her sisters, so I was always encouraged to learn and push myself. Because of their influence, I fostered a love of learning new things, so when I want a challenge, I’m not afraid to pivot to follow what interests me. Having a business and law degree enables me to toggle back and forth in both disciplines.
I started at a law firm out of law school, went in-house, and never looked back. I enjoy being in-house, whether in business operations or in legal because you get to see everything from ideation to implementation. You are on the ground floor crafting strategy and then seeing it flourish. For me, that’s the best vantage point.
You are vehement about diversity and creating a more inclusive workplace in the tech industry. Talk about the projects and systems you’ve created and implemented as a diversity strategist and advocate.
One key thing I believe in diversity and inclusion is a 4-legged stool. You should seek to integrate D&I into every facet of your business – from employee ranks, including C-suite, to supplier diversity, to your board, to your customer/user base. Diversity and inclusion are about more than just recruiting and percentage of representation inside of a company, though that’s what gets the most attention.
Supplier diversity is a great way to compliment recruitment and retention efforts at a company. I started the Supplier Diversity program at Facebook because not everyone wants to work for someone else, and the company can’t hire everyone that applies, and it also provides opportunities for wealth building and economic opportunity to members of the user base to help produce better products. It fosters inclusive innovation, and that leads to better products, which leads to more engagements, which leads to more revenue.