I began my session yesterday at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen conference in Laguna Nigel, Calif, by asking the audience for a show of hands. Who’s more optimistic about race issues, social justice and inclusion than they were a month ago? Not a single hand. Less optimistic? Most hands went up.
It was a good reminder that the divisive rhetoric of the campaign season – and beyond – continues to have a dampening effect on the people who think about inclusion as part of their jobs or personal missions.
The title of our panel was “Your Talent Rx,” a working session on race, gender and culture. You can watch a replay of the livestream here. A full recap is coming later today.
After the conversation, one human resource head told me that she was getting serious pushback from mostly white, male managers on their inclusion efforts, which include recruiting, employee resource groups and yes, in-depth bias and diversity training. “I’m getting lots of calls now – ‘Why are we doing this? Why is this necessary?’” she said, asking to remain anonymous. “We’re back to selling the business case for diversity – which is real for us, particularly at the customer-facing level.”
She said her CEO has new resolve, but also needs new ideas. “We’re building inclusion into everything we do and say, and de-emphasizing – but keeping – special programs that are designed to help move diverse candidates into middle management and beyond,” she said. “We’re definitely thinking hard.”
One idea that came from the audience involved recruiting an unlikely ally near you within the organization and asking that person to support your initiatives whether or not they’re diversity experts. You’ll know him when you see him said one audience member: it’s the “one white guy you know who gets it.”
We had a bit of fun imagining all the white managers suddenly beset upon by diversity advocates across corporate America, but the reasoning is sound and supported by research. When people with obvious position power embrace the idea of diversity, begin to understand its human value and live its practices, the concept becomes less threatening to everyone.
Stay tuned for more.
|How Apple’s Bozoma Saint John learned to own her badass self|
|The title of her panel at Fortune’s Next Gen conference was “badassery” and Apple’s marketing exec has it in spades. Turns out, it was a sudden immersion in another culture that helped trigger the preternatural confidence she exudes today: She was 13 years old when she and her family moved from Ghana to Colorado. She was reed thin and tall, “I looked like a tumbleweed,” she said. Her attempts to fit in were pointless, so she learned to own her strength. “I couldn’t be blond, I couldn’t be white,” she said.|
|Black Senate staffers offer specific recommendations for a more inclusive workplace|
|Last night, the Senate Black Legislative Staff Caucus sent a letter and accompanying document with recommendations to Senate leaders asking the lawmakers to increase the diversity among Senate staffers. The recommendations came after the SBLSC took a survey of the few black staffers that do exist about their experiences and career prospects. “The results were deeply concerning, but not shocking,” wrote Don Bell, president of the SBLSC.|
|Veterans plan to serve as human shields at Standing Rock|
|Some 2,000 veterans are planning to show up in North Dakota next week. Their aim: to support the pipeline protestors who have vowed to stay put despite renewed efforts by law enforcement to remove them. A winter storm dumped six inches of snow on the area on Monday, prompting the governor to issue an evacuation order, which remains in place indefinitely.|
|New York Times|
|White deaths exceed births for the first time in 17 U.S. states|
|A study by the University of New Hampshire released yesterday showed that the death rate is exceeding the birth rate for the white population in 17 states, spanning across the country. Just four states, Florida, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, comprise 38% of the population. In 2004, white deaths exceeded births in just four states. The drivers are an aging population and lower fertility rates, say researchers.|
|Is Jeff Sessions the kind of Southerner who heals or divides?|
| Editor Roy Jones has written a thoughtful opinion piece wondering if Senator Jeff Sessions, on track to be U.S. Attorney General, will draw from his Southern roots to inform his work on justice and reconciliation. Men from his generation usually take two routes. “[E]ither they remain racist to the bone and resent any racial progress or they were shaped by their experiences in somewhat of a positive way and now believe in fairness, equality, and justice for all Americans,” he writes. |
|How United’s CEO Oscar Munoz nearly died and was reborn|
|Oscar Munoz’s near-fatal heart attack, subsequent heart transplant and astonishing return to full capacity is the subject of Fortune writer Shawn Tully’s wonderful story. The charismatic CEO had been on the job only 38 days when it happened, and his fight for life inspired new energy among United’s leadership ranks. The eldest son of a union meat cutter born in Mexico, the CEO has leveraged his second chance into a second chance for his once sputtering airline. A rare, feel-good read.|
The Woke Leader
|Does diversity create mistrust?|
|Short answer: not likely. But a 2007 paper published by Harvard professor Robert Putnam indicated that it did. In fact, he concluded, living in a diverse neighborhood caused more distrust between neighbors and diminished interest in civic duties, like voting. The study was alarming, even to Putnam, and widely cited. But new research refutes his claims, showing that the reports of distrust only comes from certain white people with pre-existing prejudices, not diversity itself. Other people largely benefit.|
|A former white nationalist speaks out against the movement that raised him|
|Derek Black, the now famous white supremacist “quitter,” wrote a thoughtful essay on why he left and how he can best denounce a movement that’s based on fear and anger. How to sway other current supremacists? He thinks the Hamilton cast had the right idea, but admits it’s hard work. “That kind of persuasion happens in person-to-person interactions and it requires a lot of honest listening on both sides,” he says. |
|New York Times|
|Remembering the man who kept the Negro League alive|
|Don Motley, one of the founding organizers of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, MO, died last week. He was a passionate defender of the trailblazers who integrated baseball and remained optimistic that the more recent barriers to the game – student players pay up to $450 for a bat – wouldn’t completely extinguish the passion for the game among players and fans of color.|