"What I shared with the diversity team is I feel Uber issues are intersectional," says Bryant. "So yes, there are issues with gender but there are also certain inequitable practices with people of color. So I think for me, I wanted to have seen a more equitable distribution of funds and a focus of more support for Oakland and the community who stepped to the table and had conversations with them when they decided to move here."
An Uber spokesperson tells CNBC Make It that selections were based on employee suggestions and the organizations' track records for working to make a difference in STEM. It plans to announce more donations in the future.
Bryant referred to the grant offered to BGC as "an insincere effort to change the needle specifically around gender and racial inclusion," and said while she had no regrets about declining the offer, she knew she and her team had a lot of work to do to earn that money in other ways.
After hearing news of BGC's decision to turn down the grant, long-time supporter Kristy Tillman, who heads up communication design at Slack, decided she had to do something to help the organization raise the money.
"Someone retweeted the news story on my Twitter timeline," Tillman explains. "I opened the link, read it and thought immediately that there was no way we should allow Black Girls Code to go without the $125,000."
To help spread the word, Tillman tweeted a picture of her $1,000 donation to BGC and encouraged her followers to follow up with their own donations.
"I was really bothered by the large discrepancy in the amounts the other organizations were offered relative to the amount Black Girls Code was offered," says Tillman. "I have no insight into Uber's decision-making process, and I realize what is reported in the press is not always the full story, but the optics of an organization that serves young Black girls being offered the least amount of money by an order of magnitude was upsetting, and I felt like they shouldn't be robbed twice — having to turn down the money and being offered the least amount."
Since Tillman's tweet, Bryant says BGC has raised about $153,000 in addition to another $10,000 to $15,000 from companies like Google and Salesforce, which are matching employee donations. Tillman says Slack's CEO Stewart Butterfield has also shown his support by donating.
While Bryant's decision may have shocked some, she says she hopes people understand that the issue goes beyond the actions of one company.
"One of the biggest lessons that we hope to model for several folks, including some of the young women of color who come to me, is the value of understanding your worth, standing up and demanding the best for yourself and not taking less."
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