raceAhead: Talking About Race at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit

Apologies for the late send. I hope you’ll think it was worth the wait.

Race and inclusion were an important part of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in D.C. today. You were missed, but your presence was felt.

We kicked off the day with a morning panel on The New Rules of Inclusion, starring four incredible women: Jess Lee, Partner, Investments, Sequoia Capital; Cindy Robbins, Executive Vice President, Global Employee Success at Salesforce; Sandra Phillips Rogers, Group Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel, Toyota Motor North America and Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code. I’ll have a link and more thoughts, tomorrow.

Later in the afternoon, things got real when Ann-Marie Campbell, Executive Vice President, U.S. Stores, The Home Depot, Inc., Thasunda Duckett, CEO, Consumer Banking, JP Morgan Chase and Mellody Hobson, President, Ariel Investments took the stage to help explain why there are so few black women in executive ranks in the Fortune universe. It was a real-life version of The Black Ceiling, a moving discussion of what is holding black women back, even as white women find traction in inclusion efforts.

It’s worth noting that Campbell is now the only black woman on the MPW list this year.

From the panel:

“Inclusion is not just a professional thing, it’s a me thing” Campbell said. She encouraged leaders to explore their own social circles and befriend people of different races and backgrounds, noting that you can’t have open conversations about many of the issues affecting your employees and your peers without a diverse friend group.

“We know a lot more about you than you know about us,” Hobson said. She challenged leaders to make the effort and the investment to learn about women and minorities.

“You need opportunity, but you also need to be in a culture where you can be heard, you can be understood, and you can be embraced,” Duckett said. “The highest level of diversity is perspective.”


Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit continues until tomorrow afternoon! Follow live here.

On Point

A new report shows that men aren’t helping women succeed in the workplace as much as they thinkAnd nobody is helping women of color. This is the conclusion of this year’s  Women in the Workplace report from McKinsey and LeanIn.org, which surveyed the human resources practices of 222 companies with a total combined workforce of more than 12 million people. Click through for the report and a synopsis, but here’s one taste: Millennial men sound like feminists, but are the least likely to say that gender parity is important. “The largest gap in personal commitment — saying gender equality is important and being willing to address it — shows up in this age group, with young women being the most committed and young men being the least committed.”Fortune

The Trump Administration has let the Jones Act waiver expire for Puerto Rico
The Jones Act states that goods shipped between U.S. ports must be either from American made or pay fees and tariffs. The administration created a temporary waiver allowing non-American shipping vessels to enter Puerto Rico without additional penalty after Hurricane Maria. But it has already expired. "We believe that extending the waiver is unnecessary to support the humanitarian relief efforts on the island," Homeland Security Press Secretary David Lapan told CBS News in a statement. The Act was waived on September 28, though at the time, it was unclear how helpful the measure would be.
CBS News

ESPN’s Jemele Hill is suspended, then attacked by President Trump
Hill, the now globally famous ESPN host, has been suspended for two weeks after criticizing Dallas Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones on Twitter for his announcement that he would pull any player who “disrespects the flag.” Her online observation was succinct: Jones "created a problem for his players, specifically the black ones. If they don't kneel, some will see them as sellouts." This morning, the president piled on. "With Jemele Hill at the mike, it is no wonder ESPN ratings have 'tanked,' in fact, tanked so badly it is the talk of the industry!" Turns out he’s misleading people about the ratings, but that’s hardly the point.
CNN Money

Mike Ditka wonders aloud: Oppression? What oppression?
Former Bears coach Mike Ditka appeared on a Monday Night Football pre-game television show and the game talk quickly veered into Archie Bunker territory. “I don’t see all the social injustice that some of these people see,” said Ditka. And then this: “There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of. Now maybe I’m not watching it as carefully as other people.” Maybe not, and he’s definitely not alone. The interview goes on from there. While it may be entertaining to watch a television host cringe through an interview, it begs a bigger question. What do we say when our manager says the same thing?
Chicago Sun Times

The Woke Leader

Reina Gossett, a transgender filmmaker, has accused another filmmaker of stealing her work
The film in question, "The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson" by David France, debuted Friday on Netflix to considerable fanfare. Johnson is only recently being recognized for her role in sparking the Stonewall Riots of 1969, the opening moments of what would become the modern LGBTQ rights movement. Gossett, a longtime activist and writer, believes that France had access to her work via a grant proposal for her own film on the life of Johnson, who was her friend. On Saturday, Gossett wrote on Instagram, "[T]his week while I'm borrowing money to pay rent, david france is releasing his multimillion dollar netflix deal on marsha p johnson. i'm still lost in the music trying to #pay_it_no_mind and reeling on how this movie came to be and make so much $ off our lives and ideas…” Fans of Gossett, including author-activist Janet Mock, are now asking questions.
Los Angeles Times

Talking about race: The devil in the advocate
Maya Rupert holds nothing back in this essay on the painful folly of playing “devil’s advocate” when it comes to something as important as race. Particularly now. Discussions about race are already necessary, but now, in a time of heightened white supremacy sentiment, there is “a dangerous tendency for white people to engage in these discussions with people of color by summoning the devil himself and treating racism as a political disagreement around which two opposing viewpoints can reasonably form.” This is madness. What you’re asking when you play devil’s advocate is for a person of color to justify to you their own value, safety and status. “There is no way to productively ask a person to participate in an argument that questions their equality as an epistemological experiment,” she says. And yet, some people still try it.

Meet a secret society of black women that’s been active for 150 years
It’s called the United Order of Tents and was co-founded by Annetta M. Lane, an enslaved woman in Virginia, in 1867. Her great-great-granddaughter, Annette Richter, is currently a member. They are a community of black churchwomen; the members refer to each other as “Sister,” but those who have contributed most to the organization are known as “Queen.” Yes, tiaras are involved. There are dozens of chapters across the South and the Northeast. They were founded on the ideas of freedom, independence, and practical self-autonomy, and they’ve been until now, largely a secret. This one is bound to delight you.
Lenny Letter


The only organization of its kind, the United Order of Tents is a secret society comprised and operated solely by African American women. The order traces its roots back to the operations of the Underground Railroad in Norfolk Virginia. The founder of the organization, Annette M. Lane, assisted slaves during their escape from the south to their journey on the Railroad. After emancipation and then Annetta Lane and United Order of Tents cofounder, Harriet Taylor, recognized the need for African American women to join together for strength and security in the new free world…The founding members viewed the Order as a “tent of salvation” amidst the turmoil of Reconstruction.
—Mary Margaret Schley

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