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Mellody Hobson, Business Exec, Speaks About Diversity After Being Mistaken for Kitchen Help

Harold Ford was an aspiring senator just eight years ago. Ford asked Mellody Hobson, an investment firm president, for help setting up press coverage of an election event. According to the Huffington Post, Ford and Hobson were mistaken as kitchen help when they arrived for lunch with the editorial board of a New York media company.

The receptionist at the company asked the duo, “Where are your uniforms?”

Ford was a state rep from Tennessee at the time while Hobson is a Princeton-educated business executive.

“In many ways the moment caught me off guard,” Hobson said in her TED Talk, “but deep, deep down inside, I actually wasn’t surprised.”



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“Imagine if I walked you into a room and it was of a major corporation like Exxon Mobil, and every single person around the boardroom were black. You would think that was weird. But if I walked you into a Fortune 500 company and everyone around the table was a white male, when will it be that we think that’s weird too?”

Hobson is just one of two African-American women who chair a publicly traded company in the United States. There are thousands of publicly traded companies in the country and Hobson is speaking out about the lack of diversity.

“We cannot afford to be color blind,” she says, “we have to be color brave… Not because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s the smart thing to do.”

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