Billionaire Richard Branson apologises for SA photo ‘that clearly lacked diversity’

Image credit: Twitter/Richard Branson

British billionaire Richard Branson has apologised to South Africans for his choice of a photo that he said “clearly lacked diversity.”

In a now-deleted tweet he posted on Monday, Branson said he was in South Africa for the launch of his new Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship.

He accompanied the tweet with a photo of himself and eight other individuals who are apparently the Centre’s staff members.

‘Lack of diversity’

Twitter users, both local and from his home country, immediately pointed out the lack of diversity in his team.

Image credit: eNCA

“Mr Branson, you are a good man and a role model to many… Please be sensitive to diversity issues still facing the business [community] in South Africa. I would suggest that you also add racial & gender diversity in measuring your impact. Thank you,” tweeted @lepzaa.

The backlash eventually prompted Branson to delete the tweet and post another one expressing his apologies on Tuesday.

He wrote, “The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship is for all South Africans, but yesterday’s choice of a photo to go with my tweet clearly lacked diversity. Apologies.”

He added, “I hope you will take a look at my blog which does far better justice to the amazing work of the Centre and its team.”

‘Supporting entrepreneurs’

According to the its website, the Branson Centre “has been supporting entrepreneurs in the country for many years, and has now been reimagined as a social enterprise supplier-development hub.”

It partners with Virgin Active South Africa and Virgin Atlantic airline, which are both owned by Branson.

The Centre’s Executive Director is Wesley Noble, who also serves in its Board of Trustees alongside Phila Zulu, Nwabisa Mayema and Bess Nkabinde.

Its Board of Directors include Noble, Tsholo Kubheka, Rowan Le Roux, Greg Sara, Ross Faragher-Thomas and Fiona Ross.

Branson is one of the world’s best-known entrepreneurs and philanthropists. He founded Virgin Atlantic in 1984.

According to his blog, there are now “more than 60 Virgin companies worldwide, employing approximately 71,000 people in 35 countries.”

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