NBA stars are coming to Toronto this week to meet tech companies at the Athlete Tech Summit during the Toronto Caribana Festival and Drake’s OVO Fest. In a recent Toronto Star article, the effect of Ontario’s growing tech sector is drawing attention from sports athletes, wanting to invest in our local start-ups.
The Athlete Tech Summit is expected to feature Indiana Fever player, Kayla J Alexander, former Golden State Warrior, Al Harringtonheld, and twenty more sports stars in attendance.
Athletes and celebrities have their own set of criteria for investing in start-ups that many mainstream investors don’t even explore. One major component that assists in their decision making process is prioritizing diversity and inclusion. Athlete investors will not support organizations that don’t share their value for diversity and inclusion. For start-ups to succeed in winning investments from well-known celebrities, particularly Black celebrities, diversity, inclusion, and belonging in their organization and product has to be the main driver. Black celebrities invest in companies that sits well with their values, and these celebrities have expressed it themselves.
Beyonce had allegedly walked out of a meeting with Reebok due to lack of diversity in the company. While Reebok continues to reject that this situation had ever happened, it is clear to us that Beyonce values an inclusive company culture. Beyonce chose to partner with Adidas instead of Reebok, and her decision was based on her “shared vision of inclusion that will forever alter the opportunities and landscape for all, ” as she stated in her company’s press release
Steven Curry shared his values on inclusiveness, equality, and diversity in the past. When Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour, praised Donald Trump, Steven Curry, who is in partnership with Under Armour, took the time and his platform to iterate what he stands for. “If I can say the leadership is not in line with my core values, then there is no amount of money, there is no platform I wouldn’t jump off if it wasn’t in line with who I am.“
LeBron James, an investor of WePlay, a social site for young athletes, parents, and coaches, shared his political views where he’s “not in favor of this policy or any policy that divides and excludes people.” Black athletes and celebrities know the value of diversity and inclusion through their own work and want to invest in companies that are a match. And this is one of the critical reasons why Canada needs to capitalize on its strength for having a diverse culture and bring it into the workforce. Not only will having diversity, inclusion, and belonging attract investors, studies have shown that diverse teams are more innovative and financially successful.
Companies can benefit from having diversity to deliver on innovative products or services that eliminate unconscious stereotypes, especially when it comes to artificial intelligence and the use of data. Companies would be able to avoid excluding groups based on the design, features, and usability of their product. A diverse team can build a product that is reflective of our society, and which is what celebrity investors want.
There’s still a long way to improve diversity, inclusion, and belonging in Canada. We need to continue to have these conversations and stay top of mind as our sector grows. This is why the Black Professional Talent Network (BPTN) wants to develop and maintain Canada’s tech sector with diverse talents. This October 25th, BPTN will be hosting a conference, BFUTR, which is to bring what will be one of the largest gatherings of black professionals in tech ever. The event will bring leading black professionals in venture capital firms, executives from corporate firms, and tech entrepreneurs to connect with highly skilled talent through knowledge-sharing, networking, and collaboration. Join our movement to bring more Black professionals in tech!