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Diversity is Awesome

Yesterday, I got a text from a daily raceAhead reader that got me thinking. “I did a Red Team analysis on your last 25 newsletters and the word “Grim” comes up 17 times. Sounds rough out there,” she wrote.

Hmmm. Point taken. Maybe it’s time for some good news?

Some recent findings from the Pew Research Center should do the trick. Turns out that most of us in the U.S. think diversity is a good thing:

Nearly two-thirds of Americans (64%) say an increasing number of people from different races, ethnic groups and nationalities in the U.S. makes the country a better place to live; fewer (29%) think growing diversity in the country does not make much difference, and just 5% think it makes the country a worse place to live.

Lest you think the divide is all partisan, some 76% of Democrats and 51% of Republicans think the nation’s growing diversity makes it a better place to live and work. The pro-diversity numbers are up 8 points overall since last August, but among moderate and liberal Republicans, the increase is 11 points in the same timeframe.

That’s the kind of growth that gets investors crowing and marketers prepared to up their spend to get in on the action.

These data are part of a larger set of findings entitled In First Month, Views of Trump Are Already Strongly Felt, Deeply Polarized. Click through for more political sentiment analysis, but the implication is clear – the Trump administration’s aggressive stance on immigration (not to mention their problematic responses to hate crimes and related rhetoric) have been polarizing enough to put the value of diversity into sharper focus for many.

Sounds reasonable.

But what also sounds reasonable and decidedly less g-word is the notion that the benefits of diverse communities are unfolding every day – at work, at school, at coffee shops and houses of worship. Lots of places. It’s not just in response to an outside threat; it’s partly the gift of proximity, as advanced by Bryan Stevenson, the Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and one of Fortune’s World’s Greatest Leaders.

“If you are willing to get closer to people who are suffering, you will find the power to change the world,” he says often.

But if you’re also willing to get closer to people who are cranking out code, working on a new distribution plan, slogging through a sales deck, or just trying to get their better mousetraps out the door on time, that counts too. Maybe even more. If the goal of inclusion is to turn “others” into “people you know and care about,” then the world becomes less threatening and more manageable. Maybe even worth saving. While making the business case for diversity, the moral case just pulls up a chair, pours a cup of coffee and smiles.

So, in the spirit of optimism, I’m turning my back on the “common enemy” interpretation of this pro-diversity news and giving this victory to you, inclusion champion. Keep up the good work. Insert slow clap emoji here. Let’s see where we are next August when Pew comes to call. I’m in it to win it, so I’m feeling good.

And thanks for the pep talk, Sheena.

On Point

Accenture’s new diversity numbers show slow but steady improvementSpeaking of champions, Accenture deserves a lot of credit for jumpstarting the conversation on diversity with real data – last year they became the first big consulting firm to release a detailed breakdown of their workforce by race and gender. Though 63% of the company are men – they’ve set a goal to increase the representation of women to 40% by 2020- their workforce does reflect a majority-minority shift: Some 48.8% of the firm is white, with other races combined making up the rest. North America CEO Julie Sweet has also launched a new referral program and is continuing to encourage open and candid conversation. My sources say it’s making a difference.Accenture

The new head of the civil rights office at HHS is a vocal critic of transgender patients’ rights
Unfortunately, it’s his job to protect them. The Trump administration has quietly appointed Roger Severino to run the Office for Civil Rights within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Severino, a former Heritage Foundation staffer, has been a vocal critic of civil rights protections for transgender patients in the past. The civil rights office is responsible for enforcing all patient privacy and civil rights protections and barring discrimination. “I could not think of a more dangerous person to head up the Office of Civil Rights at HHS,” said a senior vice president of policy at the Human Rights Campaign. The appointment does not require Senate confirmation.

The North Carolina “bathroom bill” could cost the state $3.76 billion by 2028
The figure, calculated by the Associated Press, is an estimation of the loss of business due to the passage of H.B. 2, the “bathroom bill” passed by North Carolina last year –  though it admits it is likely an “underestimation of the law’s true costs.” Though the consequences of the bill were swift – The NCAA pulled its championship games from the state and Deutsche Bank and Paypal canceled planned expansions in the state – similar bathroom bills have been popping in other state legislatures more frequently.
PIX 11

Mississippi governor signed a law banning sanctuary cities
Gov. Phil Bryant specifically cited President Donald Trump’s executive order banning sanctuary cities when he signed the legislation. “The president said these jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of the republic,” said Bryant. The bill says that city and state employees are free to ask about someone’s immigration status and public agencies cannot aid anyone who entered the country without permission. Mississippi’s lone sanctuary policy was a 2010 ordinance that barred police officers from asking about immigration status.
AP News

North Dakota pipeline leak may be much larger than originally reported
A North Dakota Department of Health environmental scientist now estimates that the spill, which took place in December, leaked 530,000 gallons of crude oil, three times the amount of the original report of 176,400 gallons. The spill occurred 150 miles from the Dakota Access protest site, and is the largest spill in state history.

The Woke Leader

Deaths of despair may be predictable after times of severe economic transition
Economist Pia Malaney has published a paper exploring the implications of recent research that links economic decline to premature death in white, lower income Americans. It’s not just about the money. “’Deaths of Despair’ — by suicide, drug overdose or alcohol abuse — cannot be completely explained simply by stagnant or declining incomes,” she writes. And it happens other places. One example was the fall of the Soviet Union when a low-income population experienced an almost identical fall in life expectancy. It wasn’t lack of food or the collapse of the health care system to blame, researchers found. “Rather they could be traced to the psychological stress likely brought on by the shock of the severe economic transition.”
Institute for New Economic Thinking

A new study shows shifting attitudes about free will in Chinese kids
Different cultures have very different ideas about happiness, personal agency, and life, but a new study suggests that the cultural divide might be shrinking. The belief in free will – the idea that you can make independent choices that are not influenced by past events – is largely associated with Western or “individualist” cultures, not Eastern “collectivist” ones. Yet this study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, seems to indicate that attitudes are changing among Chinese youth. Some 85% of the adolescents surveyed expressed a belief in free will, which correlated positively with happiness. It’s a fascinating discussion, click through for a great review of the study.
Frontiers Blog

A new fellowship for formerly incarcerated fine artists
The Soze Agency, a worker-owned creative firm that conducts “campaigns about compassion, authenticity, and equity,” has launched a $100,000 fellowship program for artists who were once incarcerated. “The Right of Return USA Fellowship” is a part of their Returning Citizens Project, and will award five artists with $20,000 grants to create work that addresses criminal justice reform. One of the goals is to create a network of painters, sculptors, filmmakers and performers who have been incarcerated. “Artists have always been able to tap into something that is unique and vibrant,” Soze Agency co-founder Michael Skolnik told Mic. “Imagine what artists who have experienced incarceration have to share with the rest of the world.”


Iffen it don’t rain, it’ll be a long dry spell.
—Ole Golly