You want to get rid of toxic workplaces? Me too.
I’ll be heading to Fortune Brainstorm Tech next week, the annual retreat for Fortune 500 leaders, tech entrepreneurs and the people who fund them, presented in association with the Aspen Institute. I’m sure I’ll leave with lots of interesting insights to share.
I'll also be leading a panel on a topic that’s top of mind in tech and beyond, called How To Avoid A Toxic Culture.
The panelists are:
Blake Irving, CEO, GoDaddy
Susan Lyne, President and Managing Partner, BBG Ventures
Patrick Quinlan, Co-founder and CEO, Convercent
Joshua Reeves, Co-founder and CEO, Gusto
Cindy Whitehead, Founder and CEO, The Pink Ceiling
We’ll be digging into all the challenges of maintaining an inclusive and legally compliant culture while a company is in growth mode. But toxicity is so much more than that.
Since this is a topic many of you have experienced firsthand, I thought I’d invite you to help shape the conversation. What do you see as the primary drivers of toxicity in the workplace? What are the remedies? What does culture change really entail? Any horror stories to share? What questions do you need answers to?
Wishing you a non-toxic Monday.
Tristan Walker learns to lead
Tristan Walker is many extraordinary things – a successful entrepreneur, a Silicon Valley darling, an advocate for diversity and justice, and a compelling speaker bordering on A-list status. For many, he is the great hope for black leadership in tech. But for Walker, who has been busy growing Walker & Company Brands – a start-up he hopes will become the “Procter & Gamble for people of color,” – becoming a good leader is an ongoing process. “I think, How can I be the best CEO I can be? Nowhere in that is How can I be the best spokesperson I can be? I’m already a good spokesperson,” he tells Entrepreneur’s J.J McCorvey. “But I can be a better spokesperson if I’m a better CEO.” He recently adopted a new, more focused leadership style and began re-tooling his company to meet the needs of the next P&G. One of his first great acts was to admit he was building a health and beauty company, not a tech company. “When I started, I said we’re a tech company. That’s bullshit,” he told Recode's Kara Swisher. Since then, he's done what any good role model does – share what he's learned.
Voter report: Single women will save us all. Maybe
Vice digs into a recent report from the Voter Participation Center that shows that among the population of eligible voters, there are now slightly more unmarried women than married ones. Following the 2016 presidential election, many of these women have gotten involved in political activism for the first time, motivated, in part, by the desire to dismantle the obstacles barring them from financial success. It’s an activism epiphany of sorts. In 2016, only 57% of eligible unmarried women voted, which is the kind of participation gap that should get everyone’s attention. To change this percentage, outreach will be key. Not all unmarried women fit the same profile. Fear is a factor, particularly in low-income communities, or among communities of color. "Issues that make people concerned and active can also make them concerned and withdrawn," one voter turnout expert said. By focusing marketing efforts only on groups who typically vote, like older white, married voters, the overall participation gap is perpetuated.
A new award aims to encourage diversity in advertising
London’s Channel 4 announced a shortlist of potential winners of its first-ever Diversity in Advertising award, which will go to an ad campaign that explores non-visible disabilities. Seven brands and their agencies are in the running, including Volvo with Grey London, Ford with GTB, and Panasonic with Brave. The prize for the winning ad, besides all the kudos and the feels, is £1 million in airtime. The new award itself is worth a mention: It is part of a bigger commitment made by Channel 4 to encourage more diversity in advertising. Each year, the prize will focus on a different area of diversity. Click through for the scoop.
Low-income housing programs are keeping cities segregated
A new analysis from The New York Times found that in the country’s largest urban areas, low-income housing projects that rely on federal credits are disproportionately being used to build in majority non-white communities. Per the analysis, this means "the government is essentially helping to maintain entrenched racial divides, even though federal law requires government agencies to promote integration." People from more affluent communities, with better schools, services, and amenities tend to turn out in droves to protest low-income projects proposed in their zip codes. In one protest letter, which aimed to stop an affordable home initiative in a more upscale section of Houston, a resident wrote that if the affordable units were approved, they would draw an “unwelcome resident who, due to poverty and lack of education, will bring the threat of crime, drugs and prostitution to the neighborhood.”
The Woke Leader
The new-fashioned redlining needs to be addressed
This story from The Washington Post is a couple of years old, but remains vitally important today. First, it reminds us that redlining, the practice used by lenders to deny certain communities access to affordable capital based on race, is still very much a thing. The news peg was the 2015 HUD settlement with Wisconsin’s largest bank for discrimination against black and Hispanic mortgage seekers in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota from 2008 to 2010; people who were exactly as credit-worthy as white borrowers on the other side of the red line. But the story is a reminder that historic redlining, which began in the 1930s, is an integral part of the American experience for many people: “If your family was denied a mortgage in the 1930s, or the 1950s, or the 1970s, then you may not have the family wealth or down payment help to become a homeowner today.” And, with the current chaos in the federal government, every day without clear oversight adds to a legacy of impoverishment, while allowing any current redlining systems to remain hidden. Fairness may not be brain surgery, but it’s supposed to be the law of the land.
Jay-Z has his money and wants you to get yours
Adam Serwer offers an exceptional analysis of a new theory of economic nationalism that the rap mogul has brought into public view on his album 4:44. In the past, Serwer argues, Jay-Z’s exploration of wealth “could be understood as an indictment of the immorality of capitalism by a man luxuriating in its fruits,” a stance that made his rise from the projects into power a radical bird flip to those with pedigrees and advantages. But in his new work, Jay talks about financial security and strategy, even dredging up a Jewish stereotype of financial solidarity in “The Story of O.J.” The jarring line is about credit – “You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it.” Serwer’s analysis deftly weaves the evolution of Jay’s financial philosophy in rap, with the history of black capitalist thinking from Booker T. Washington on up. And since he is both black and Jewish, Serwer doesn’t flinch. The line that suggests black folk should be more like the Jews is old news, he says. “That advice isn’t given anymore because of the popular recognition that if American blacks had the same access to credit as American Jews, if thrift and moral rectitude were all that was necessary for economic success, the Bed-Stuy that created Shawn Carter would never have existed.” Mic drop.
How the planet will end
It’s one of the best long-reads I’ve found in ages, made more compelling by describing, in remarkable detail, how the planet will die. Or more accurately, how it will survive thanks to climate change, which will result in famine, disease, climate refugees, and widespread extinctions. These changes have already begun. “Indeed, absent a significant adjustment to how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century,” says David Wallace-Wells. The poorest and most vulnerable communities will be hit first and hardest. Miami isn’t going to make it, neither is Bangladesh, permafrost melt is about to become a permanent problem and “heat death” will become a regular fact of life. It makes the drama around the Paris climate accords even more heartbreaking. If you’re looking for a readable examination of history and the likely trajectory of climate-driven change, this is it.The fault – and future- is truly within ourselves.
If anyone utters the word, ‘it’s just a theory,’ [about climate change] it means they’re missing a piece of their education where they do not fully understand what science is and how and why it works. Today you have people who...will just accept what anyone tells them, or think that they can deny an objectively established scientific truth… I don’t mind that in a free country, think what you want. But if you now rise to power and have, and have jurisdiction over legislation, and you pivot that on what you don’t know about how the world works, that’s a recipe for disaster.
—Neil deGrasse Tyson