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Stop Waiting for the CEO to Diversify Your Office

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Anjuan Simmons, a former Accenture and Deloitte technologist now in the start-up world, has been making the rounds at tech conferences with a revolutionary message: If you want to build a more inclusive workforce, don’t wait for the C-Suite to help you.

“We’ve seen Facebook, Google, all the big tech companies, publish their diversity numbers with no net positive change in three years,” he says. “It’s going to take people demanding inclusion for it to happen.”

Simmons says that inclusion – the quest to help a diverse set of employees thrive in a welcoming environment – will not work if it’s just a set of lofty, executive mandates. What does work, he says, is when everyday people with everyday power adopt a set of leadership behaviors that help them notice and “lend their privilege” to people who don’t.

His latest presentation, this time at GitHub Universe, is here. He explains all aspects of privilege in a really clear way. (Bonus: You’ll also learn a lot about the history of the open-source movement, and a cool fact about Star Trek, too.)

Simmons breaks down the idea behind “lending privilege,” into three identifiable types. Here’s the quick version:

Credibility lending (at 15:03) – happens when you provide visibility for someone that helps draw positive attention to their work. He uses the theatrical example of talk show host, Stephen Colbert, swapping seats to let activist DerayMcKesson sit behind his desk. But inviting someone to co-present an idea to the boss would also work, or acknowledging their contribution in an important meeting.

Access lending (at 17:04)– happens when you provide access to information, locations or experiences that can help someone else grow their knowledge, or get a better sense of how your company works. A good example is an invitation to an executive meeting or access to specialized research.

Expertise lending (at 19:15) – happens when you acknowledge someone else’s expertise by giving them an opportunity to shine, like taking the lead on one of your projects.

These all sound like fairly straightforward things, until you consider how rarely they happen. We mostly lend privilege to the people who are already visible to us – people like ourselves. “The person with the privilege has to know they have it and notice when someone else doesn’t,” says Simmons. And that exercise alone is valuable. “It triggers empathy for the experience of others that benefits everyone.”

Especially since it helps white allies find a natural way into the conversation. “What we’re really looking to do, is create a grassroots movement of individual people making changes based on their sense of fairness,” he says. Lending privilege is an act of generosity that amplifies everyone’s strengths. “And everyone, even if you’re part of a marginalized group, has something powerful to lend someone else.”

On Point

So, Jack Ma and Marcelo Claure stopped byAlibaba CEO Jack Ma stopped by Fortune offices yesterday, and talked about global trade, their own transparency goals and how they fit into the business ecosystem. “Our job isn’t to be Amazon,” he said. “It is to allow every company to become an Amazon.” In a separate visit, Sprint CEO – and MBKA board member – Marcelo Claure stopped by and dished about the exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7s. “Stuff like this happens,” he said.Fortune

Black and Latina tech founders are prepared to rule 
Here’s an infographic describing the 96 high-growth tech startups run by black and Latina women that were accepted to the BIG Accelerator program. They’re a highly educated bunch. Turns out, there are a lot of smart and diverse ideas out there, too – from cannabis software management to custom shoes. BIG is a twelve week adventure in mentorship, business development and access to investors.
Medium

Jeremy Lin hates all soups
In a hilarious, and oddly touching story, the Brooklyn Nets point guard revealed in a Facebook Live interview that he hates soup. All of them. He doesn’t even like hot liquids, like tea. The response from his Asian American fans was incredulity bordering on panic. “This is why they say never meet your idols,” one wrote forlornly. Turns out Asian people growing up in the U.S. have a complex relationship with traditional foods, and Lin’s revelation triggered some tough memories.
GQ

What Trump’s “birther” obsession really meant
Writer and anthropologist Sarah Kendzior charts the rise and fall of Donald Trump’s obsession with the President’s long form birth certificate and links it to a strain of thought in the U.S. that is dedicated to the idea of white, Christian dominance. “Birtherism was never truly about where Barack Obama came from. It was about where he was allowed to go.”
The Globe and Mail

Yale changes its essay questions to highlight diversity
Yale University has changed its essay requirement for freshman applicants, eliminating a more general “tell us about yourself” prompt, for specific questions about the communities to which they belong and the issues they are passionate about. “Our new application questions resonate with Dean Holloway’s priorities for Yale College, including diversifying the student body in every imaginable way,” said another dean. There is also a new, easy-to-use platform tht waives the application fee for low income students. Click through for more.
Yale

Irvine, California now has a majority Asian population
According to new census figures, Irvine has just become the largest city in the continental U.S. with a plurality of Asian residents. The upscale city – designed around the campuses of UC Irvine – became a big draw for aspirational immigrants, looking for a good place to raise kids. Now, some 45% percent of Irvine’s roughly 257,000 residents are Asian. Asians are the fastest-growing racial group in the country, accounting for nearly two in five new immigrants.
Orange County Register

The Woke Leader

 
The national prison strike has been mostly ignored
On September 9th, inmate workers at 40 prisons around the country went on strike, protesting inhumane treatment and low or non-existent pay. There was almost no coverage of the event or the cruel conditions identified by the inmates, which are described by many as a continuation of antebellum slavery.
FAIR

It’s actually racism that runs the world today
Vox’s Zach Beauchamp argues that the economic decline of the working-class is not solely responsible for the rise of the populist anger, anti-immigrant sentiment and racial or religious intolerance that describes Brexit and the more vocal Trump supporters. Instead, he says, he identifies a group of people linked by a natural disdain for difference.
Vox

A reading list on race and ethnicity
Remember that feeling when you cracked a new and daring syllabus for the first time? For the lifelong-learners out there, let this reading list be your guide to understanding the dynamics behind the anti-racism organizing that’s been happening in the world. Race is a social construct. But what does that mean? Find out here.
Verso Books

Quote

I think that people are uncomfortable talking about the racist history of this country and what we need to do to undo the impact of racism. People would just like to act like we don’t have a legacy of racism here. I think people get really uncomfortable with it, but we know that we can’t change it unless we address it.
—Deray McKesson