Originally published: June 8, 2017
Facebook’s global director of diversity Maxine Williams recounted at the Wharton People Analytics Conference how in a previous position with a global law firm, she spent two years living in Geneva. She submitted the necessary paperwork to rent an apartment there. After she had moved in, the cleaning person for the previous tenant knocked on the door to see if the new renter wanted to continue the service.
“Oh, I didn’t expect to see you here,” said the cleaning person, sounding surprised.
The woman didn’t know Williams personally, and upon questioning it turned out she was referring to Williams’ dark skin. She told Williams matter-of-factly, “The owner said she would never rent to black people,” adding that the embassy of Congo had recently tried to rent the apartment without success.