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Intel’s Latest Diversity Report Is Good News for Culture Change

August 15, 2017, 7:56 PM UTC

So here’s a big question for a Tuesday. Why are people racist?

Two scientists, interviewed by The Washington Post offer an explanation so simple that even Occam would approve. People are racist because everything in their culture points to a racial hierarchy. It is in the air we breathe. It is normal to us.

“In some ways, it’s super simple. People learn to be whatever their society and culture teaches them. We often assume that it takes parents actively teaching their kids, for them to be racist. The truth is that unless parents actively teach kids not to be racists, they will be,” said Jennifer Richeson, a Yale University social psychologist. “This is not the product of some deep-seated, evil heart that is cultivated. It comes from the environment, the air all around us.”

It’s one of the reasons why diverse perspectives in pop culture are so vital. The scientists cite a study at Tufts University, which found that people tested higher for implicit bias after watching a television show starring black and white actors, even if the program was on mute and had no obvious discriminatory content. Dominant culture tends to design things, even subtly, to create an “us vs them” dynamic.

While not everyone who is steeped in these social cues becomes violent, there are some important predictors to consider.

“[W]hen people come into contact with an organized ideology that valorizes or glorifies an intergroup struggle like a race struggle — that scaffolds from people’s everyday prejudices into something altogether more violent,” said Eric Knowles, a psychology professor at New York University. A siege mentality, amplified by propaganda and social messaging, fuels urgency, entitlement, and alt-heroism.

But you knew that.

Culture change, which has become the scourge of the anti-political correctness crowd, is an important way to help re-shape the biases embedded into our personalities. This is where leadership, both big and small, can make an impact.

First, the small. Consider this helpful advice from Lara Hogan, the VP of engineering for Kickstarter, called Managering In Terrible Times. She outlines small behaviors leaders can embrace to help people from marginalized communities feel safe, even as terrifying events unfold on the news. Clarity is key, but so is respect. Give people the freedom to talk about what’s on their minds, but also give them the freedom to remain silent. “Remember: marginalized folks are repeatedly called on to explain These Terrible Times to others, and this is a way in which well-intentioned people exacerbate the burden on already-oppressed people,” she says, in one example.

Next, the big. Intel published its mid-year diversity report today, which finds the company should reach its workforce representation goals by 2018, some two years ahead of schedule. Fortune’s Grace Donnelly has the entire scoop on the diversity report. It’s worth digging into how the company is defining success.

On Monday, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich resigned from the president’s manufacturing council. In a blog post, he strongly denounced white supremacy, urging other leaders to do the same.

But it shouldn’t end there. In his comments on the Intel’s diversity report, Krzanich also called on executives to turn “this tragedy into action.” He continued, “Technology companies have talked about diversity for years, but the data shows that progress has been slow.”

The report is proof that it’s possible.

On Point

Ask your CEO to follow Ken Frazier’s exampleWhen Ken Frazier publicly quit President Trump’s manufacturing council, he made it clear that he stood for something. In this particular case, it was in response to the commander-in-chief’s failure to denounce the white supremacists in Charlottesville. This kind of strength, says David M. Mayern, an associate professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, is a sign of the times. “Frazier is part of a new generation of CEOs who have the courage to speak up about moral issues,” he says. He points to research showing that while rank and file employees are often criticized for sharing these views, leaders are often praised as visionary. The result? More engaged employees and improved bottom lines. Why not send a note of encouragement and this essay to your CEO? They should know how awesome you are, after all.Fortune

Under Armour and Intel chiefs also quit the manufacturing council
Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank announced Monday evening that he was also leaving the president’s manufacturing council. “I love our country and our company and will continue to focus my efforts on inspiring every person that they can do anything through the power of sport which promotes unity, diversity and inclusion.” Plank had previously come under fire for his remarks appearing  to praise Trump. CEO Brian Krzanich announced his resignation late Monday, saying that promoting American manufacturing "should not be a political issue.

New Academy president plans to focus on diversity
John Bailey is the new president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a quiet unknown on the Hollywood scene, a 75-year-old cinematographer who has never been nominated for an Oscar. That said, he’s making quite a stir. He was born white, he was born male, he said in his first interview. Nothing he can do about that. “We’re going to keep doing everything we can to be more inclusive,” he said. “I happen to think that the academy’s initiatives regarding diversity are way overdue.”
New York Times

FBI arrests man in Oklahoma bombing-style sting
It sounds like a movie plot, except it’s real. On Monday, Jerry Drake Varnell attempted to detonate what he believed was a van full of explosives next to an Oklahoma City bank. Varnell, who held publicly anti-government views, had been working on a plot to blow up the Federal Reserve when a friend tipped off the FBI. It sounds like a perfectly executed sting operation, although it does make you wonder how many people manage to escape justice: Varnell actually pushed the button believing it would explode.

The Woke Leader

China’s last “comfort woman” and justice advocate, dies
She was part of a brave cohort who sued the Japanese government for sex slavery during World War II. Huang Youliang was only 15 when she was raped by Japanese troops who had occupied her home town; she later spent years as a sex slave in a brothel. Click through for the details on the lawsuit and her life. “Her willingness to share her darkest days was because she wanted some justice,” a historian said.
South China Morning Post

Allure Magazine: We will no longer use the term anti-aging
Allure’s editor in chief Michelle Lee has announced her plan to remove the term “anti-aging” from the magazine’s vocabulary. It’s an interesting move for a beauty magazine. “Whether we know it or not, we’re subtly reinforcing the message that aging is a condition we need to battle — think antianxiety meds, antivirus software, or antifungal spray,” she writes in this month’s issue. She’s asking the beauty industry to do the same. “We know it’s not easy to change packaging and marketing overnight. But together we can start to change the conversation and celebrate the beauty in all ages.”

Five ways to diversify your leadership strategy
People leave organizations because of culture, say talent experts Steve Frost and Danny Kalman. Does your culture allow diverse talent to thrive? Their main point: One size fits all leadership development strategies tend to favor the dominant group, to the detriment of diverse candidate pools. Their best tips involve supporting strong candidates who are either uncomfortable working the room to sing their own praises, like introverts, or those who are already actively enhancing the business in employee resource groups.
DDI World


I have forgiven the Japanese for what they did to me, but I can never forget. The war never ended for the ‘Comfort Women.'