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At Least Companies With Weak Diversity Numbers Are Being Transparent

June 13, 2017, 7:45 PM UTC

Fortune data editor Stacy Jones is filling in for Ellen McGirt this week while she’s away on vacation.

I almost said no when Ellen asked me to fill in on raceAhead. But a professor I interviewed last week changed my mind in a big way.

Dr. Kira Banks, a psychology professor, and I spoke by phone about some of the diversity numbers the Fortune data team collected from Fortune 500 companies. We were discussing the dog-eared and yellowing script that’s used to talk about workforce demographics, often shaming companies for failing to hire more people from marginalized groups.

“I think it’s really important to not blast or denigrate companies with these numbers because most [of them] have these kinds of numbers. That doesn’t mean you don’t challenge them to do better” she said. “To get us to a point where we’re getting better, we have to be willing to disaggregate data and commit to actually doing better.”

Give yourself a moment to digest her statement. (If hearing and seeing her in action would help, check out this YouTube clip from 2016.

Banks doesn’t suggest we stop asking companies to do better. And she’s not suggesting companies stop releasing their data. Transparency sends a powerful message that there’s a solid commitment to improvement and being held accountable.

To read the rest of my essay, head over to Fortune.


On Point

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The Criminal Case Against Comedian Bill Cosby
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I'ma test this out right quick on y'all / Now keep in mind I'm an artist and I'm sensitive about my shit / So y'all be nice about it, alright
— Erykah Badu