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raceAhead: Ken Chenault on Diversity, Black Corporate Directors, Who Will Be The Corporate Colin Kaepernick?

Your week in review, in haiku.



One forty in the

streets; two eighty in the sheets.

Edit button, please?



Funny, not funny;

some films don’t deserve popcorn.

I love you, Daddy.



Me too, me too, me

too, me too, me too. #MeToo.

Who will make this stop?



I will go Twitter

silent for half the Princely

sum paid to Tyrese.



To those who’ve served, to

those who’ve stayed the course stateside:

A grateful nation.


Wishing you a resilient weekend.

On Point

Ken Chenault says diversity is a “real problem” for corporate AmericaAnd soon there will be three. When American Express CEO Ken Chenault steps down from his post next year, there will only be three black CEOs in the Fortune 500 — all of them men.  In this video from the recent Deal Book conference, Chenault speaks candidly about what his retirement says about diversity at the highest ranks of corporate America. “At the end of the day, one of the biggest issues for our society is diversity and inclusion,” he says. “Despite the depressing numbers, there are incredibly qualified people out there who can move into those positions. We’ve got to move them into the pipeline.” So what gives?Fortune

Black Enterprise’s list of black corporate directors
Black Enterprise does the world a service with their now annual review of African American representation on corporate boards; their 2017 edition has identified 292 black board members, doing the work. This analysis highlights corporate directors on S&P 500 tech company boards, a sector which has significantly lagged behind others. While they identified 45 individuals, “There are still a large number of companies, however, that still continue to seem oblivious to the value of an African American presence in their boardrooms:, Adobe Systems, Cisco Systems, Oracle Corp., Intuit Inc., eBay Inc., and Symantec Corp.,” they report. Other tech companies without any black board members include Netflix and Paypal.
Black Enterprise

Mellody Hobson calls for a corporate Colin Kaepernick
Hobson, the president of Ariel Capital and a lifelong advocate for diversity similarly challenged the Deal Book audience, wondering aloud why corporate America remains so white and male, and how a corporate version of a Colin Kaepernick could move the needle. “I’m in awe of him because I believe he took it upon himself to publicly promote the American values of liberty and life that we all cherish,” she said. “Who else will be willing to use their high-profile position to call attention to inequality?”
New York Times

Here’s what really drove the dramatic drop in crime in America over the last 25 years
A new study and upcoming book from Patrick Sharkey, a sociologist at New York University, delivers some bad news for the law-and-order crowd. There is new data to suggest that increased policing is not the answer. Instead, an analysis of communities where violent crime dropped the most found that it was community-based interventions that made the biggest difference. “Local nonprofit groups that responded to the violence by cleaning streets, building playgrounds, mentoring children and employing young men had a real effect on the crime rate,” finds the New York Times. While their work isn’t the only reason, their impact has been largely ignored. “I think it’s fundamental to what happened,” Sharkey says.
New York Times

The Woke Leader

Palm Springs, California had a record-breaking election night
While we’re still processing the results from Tuesday’s election, here’s one for the record books. The entire Palms Springs, Calif. City Council now identifies as LGBT or queer. With her win, Lisa Middleton made history Tuesday as the first openly transgender candidate elected to a nonjudicial office in California, winning some 31% of the vote. “Her first place finish out of a field of 6 candidates demonstrates that a glass ceiling for transgender people who want to serve in elected office was not only broken, but was shattered in Palm Springs,” says Equality California, who endorsed her and contributed to her campaign.
The New York Daily News

Twelve tips for managing diverse teams
If you’ve moved beyond making the business case for diversity, then you’re into the messy work of making it happen in real time, doing real work. These twelve tips from HR Magazine in the U.K. offer some interesting talking points, particularly in light of a post-Brexit world. Take what you need, but number three caught my eye: Inspire leaders to take responsibility, then action, on the back of their own biases. Majority culture leaders who are outstanding in other ways may fall short when they are forced to confront their own biases in public. “Recognise that this may be a difficult experience for many and could unearth some uncomfortable truths,” says Suzy Bashford. “Support them through this by reframing the process as a learning opportunity to become a more effective leader.”
HR Magazine UK

A playlist from artists we love who also chased Trane
Turns out there is an entire generation of young artists who have been inspired by Coltrane and have allowed his unique spirit to inform their work. Many thanks to Nick Dedina for putting together this cool playlist, which is both a great introduction to John Coltrane and an audio explainer for how his themes and influences exist today. Some obvious choices include saxophonist Branford Marsalis and son Ravi Coltrane, but he expands the list to relative newcomers like Chance the Rapper, Esperanza Spaulding and Gregory Porter. David Bowie and Joni Mitchell also make the cut. “The lesson of John Coltrane is that you can still look the uglier actions of humanity directly in the eye even as you reach out for the positive energy found in the divine,” says Dedina. It’s a good playlist, y’all.


Well, them white folks in Washington they know how / To call a colored man a nigger just to see him bow / Lord, it’s a bourgeois town / Uhm, the bourgeois town / I got the bourgeois blues / Gonna spread the news all around.
—Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter