Alumna’s tech startup leads the way in promoting diversity

Last week, TaskRabbit founder Leah Busque ’01 made news with her announcement that she was going to trade her post as CEO of the company for executive chairwoman of the board, promoting former chief operating officer Stacy Brown-Philpot to fill her shoes. Today, TaskRabbit became the first company to sign on to a Congressional Black Caucus initiative to boost recruitment of African-Americans in tech.

Leah Busque
Leah Busque ’01 speaking at an event at Sweet Briar

Brown-Philpot is among the few African-American CEOs at a Silicon Valley tech startup. During her three years at TaskRabbit, which offers on-demand help with chores in various cities worldwide, she has “grown ethnic diversity threefold and doubled the number of women,” according to an article in USA Today.

Of TaskRabbit’s employees, 37 (58 percent) are women, 45 (71 percent) are white, eight (13 percent) are Asian or Pacific Islander, three (5 percent) are Latino and seven (11 percent) are LGBTQ. Of 16 managers, seven (44 percent) are women, one (6 percent) is Latino, one (6 percent) is African-American and one (6 percent) is Asian or Pacific Islander. Of the 11 people in leadership positions, three (27 percent) are women, one is African-American (9 percent), two are Asian or Pacific Islander (18 percent), one is Latino (9 percent) and one (9 percent) is LGBTQ.

“Our numbers look very good from my perspective, but we are not done,” Brown-Philpot said.

TaskRabbit’s diversity and inclusion plan, released today, states that “hiring and retention of underrepresented groups is a priority,” according to USA Today. The plan calls for increasing the company’s percentage of African-American employees from 11 percent to 13 percent in 2016.

“Along the way, TaskRabbit has built a lot of things,” Busque wrote last week in a blog post. “Tried and failed. And more often than not, succeeded. I’ve dedicated myself to joining forces with some amazing people to make a difference, and it’s time for those people to lead the company and allow me to focus on strategic initiatives. Professionally, I’m stepping up to be the Executive Chairwoman of TaskRabbit. Personally, I’m leaning into a few other causes I’m passionate about, including my family. Mostly, I’m again focused on the long-term future of the business.”

Busque graduated magna cum laude from Sweet Briar with a B.S. in mathematics and computer science and currently serves on the College’s board of directors.