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raceAhead: Corporate Diversity in 2018

What’s your 2018 going to look like?

According to new data from Glassdoor, diversity and inclusion remains very much top of mind as companies plan their talent strategies for next year. The business case the data show is an interesting one: Qualified candidates are increasingly asking that companies show their inclusion receipts before they agree to be hired on.

“Job seekers want insights into what businesses are doing to build a workforce that is diverse in all aspects of the word be it age, gender, ethnicity or thought,” said Carmel Galvin, chief human resources officer of Glassdoor.

The report, which surveyed 750 talent managers in the U.S. and U.K., finds that 59% of hiring leaders say their current diversity shortcomings present a “significant” challenge to their recruiting efforts. As a result, 35% of hiring managers are planning to increase their investment in their diversity and inclusion efforts, with only 3% expecting to invest less.

Criticism about a lack of diversity in the workplace, particularly in tech, continues to be a motivating element, but getting quality candidates in the door takes a very specific form of work. (Here’s a great checklist from HR Dive for hiring managers to think about as they stare blankly at their goals for 2018.)

One area that’s ripe for improvement (and that’s easily overlooked) is finding out how promising candidates get lost before they even get a chance to sit for an interview or test.

Sometimes a simple intervention is all it takes. One mid-level executive at a Fortune 100 financial firm got sick of getting called out for a lack of diversity on her team. “I did what I never do,” she told raceAhead on background. “I called our recruiters and asked them to show me everyone who applied. Every name.” She retrieved some 20% of the screened-out candidates for interviews, some of whom had blue-chip achievements on their resumes, some of whom were intriguing for other reasons. “We’ve got to get better about letting people in the door who don’t always present like a “typical” rock-star candidate,” she said.

And at some point, every person who encounters a potential candidate needs to be encouraged and prepared to answer any questions about diversity and inclusion — specific programs, numbers, or simply demonstrate their company’s authentic commitment to the issue. “I learned something from every one of those interviews,” said the newly woke mid-level executive. “For one, I learned that the pipeline problem was mostly us, not them,” she said. But most of all, “I learned how to better talk about what we believed about diversity. Because we really do believe in it.”


On Point

An investment fund for minority-owned businesses in Detroit is getting biggerAlmost three times as big, to be exact. The Entrepreneurs of Color Fund, backed by JPMorgan Chase and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, began as an experiment designed to help businesses operating in low-income neighborhoods get the types of support that has been historically denied to them by traditional lenders. The fund has expanded from $6.5 million to $18 million, thanks to their successful track record and the addition of new investors. It’s particularly encouraging news for JPMorgan Chase, who has set big goals toward the revitalization of cities, particularly in Detroit.Fortune

A corporate scandal in South Africa reveals deep-seated racial tensions
This is a fascinating piece by Steven Friedman, a political studies professor at the University of Johannesburg, particularly if you’re not familiar with South African politics. At the heart of the drama is a privately held company called Steinhoff which is facing serious allegations of financial improprieties. And, it’s not the first time. But in South Africa, accusations of scandalous behavior are always leveled at the public sector, while the private sector is upheld as an untouchable bastion. “But, in a country in which whites remain dominant in private business while blacks largely control the government, it is really about the country’s racial divides,” explains Friedman. But the Steinhoff news has been amplified by advocates who want to level the playing field and ensure that white-owned companies are subject to the same rigorous oversight. He says there is a profound opportunity at hand. “The Steinhoff scandal would do South Africa a huge service if it made the point that corruption and mismanagement have nothing to do with race.” 

Why do professional women continue to speak to their harassers?
In the aftermath of an allegation of sexual harassment or worse, people often point to a continued pattern of contact – friendly emails, texts, work updates, etc. – as proof the allegations are bogus. But this kind of behavior is a professional survival mechanism. “You are not going to walk up and say: You are dead to me,” Aileen Lee, a partner with venture capital firm Cowboy Ventures told USAToday.  “You could potentially do more damage to yourself and to your career.”  Men still disproportionately hold the keys to power, access, and investment, which makes it nearly impossible for women to avoid them entirely. As a result, an awkward and painful gauntlet ensues, in which career development becomes intertwined with threats to women’s safety and dignity.
USA Today

PBS suspends host Tavis Smiley in light of sexual misconduct allegations
And it’s already getting ugly. In an exclusive published by Variety, the investigation claims to have uncovered credible allegations of multiple relationships with subordinates, with some saying that their job status was linked to a sexual relationship with the host. There are also allegations of verbal abuse. Smiley vowed to fight the allegations saying he never groped, exposed himself or coerced any colleagues, and that he had attempted to clear his name with the investigators, who only met with him only after he threatened a lawsuit. He posted a video statement on social media explaining how he plans to fight back.

The Woke Leader

Salma Hayek’s #MeToo Harvey Weinstein story
Hayek’s long and moving essay in The New York Times has all the elements of what we’ve come to expect from a Weinstein horror story, with an additional twist. The mega-producer made her life a particular kind of misery when he repeatedly attempted to derail “Frida,” Hayek’s dream project on the life of Frida Kahlo. His “Machiavellian rage,” had been triggered by Hayek’s persistent refusal of his advances, so she claims a multi-year system of abuse began. The story is horrific, particularly in light of how rare Latinx themed mainstream films are and how successful it was after Hayek weathered every attack and met every irrational condition – including the inclusion of a gratuitous, fully nude love scene with another woman. “But this time, it was clear to me he would never let me finish this movie without him having his fantasy one way or another. There was no room for negotiation,” she wrote.
New York Times

Why aren’t Hollywood films more diverse?
Here’s one theory, uncovered in an email from an unnamed producer that was part of a release of hacked documents. The individual was debating the merits of casting Denzel Washington as the lead in The Equalizer. “I believe that the international motion-picture audience is racist – in general, pictures with an African-American lead don’t play well overseas…” it began. Roberto Pedace, a professor at Scripps University tested the thesis that studios were making casting decisions based on these financial concerns, given that international revenue accounts for more than twice of that coming from domestic receipts. His team analyzed some 150 top-grossing films from 2005 to 2012. “There’s significant evidence that a film cast’s racial diversity negatively affects international box office performance,” he says. Click through for methodology and charts and graphs.
The Conversation

Losing Phillip Seymour Hoffman
If you have ever loved or been close an addict, then you will find truth and solace in this remarkable first-person account from Mimi O’Donnell, partner to Philip Seymour Hoffman and mother to their three children. Theirs was a deep and abiding love, enabled in part by two decades of his sobriety. It is impossible not to hope for a different ending, as she shares their tender courtship, life with their three kids, and how grateful they were for their marvelous lives. Although she cannot fully explain why it all went so bad, but she has reached some sort of fragile peace. “Twelve-step literature describes addiction as ‘cunning, baffling, and powerful.’ It is all three,” she says, of the force that took Hoffman away from the life he loved. “And Phil was an addict, though at the time I didn’t fully understand that addiction is always lurking just below the surface, looking for a moment of weakness to come roaring back to life.”


The thing I realized when I became a father is why parents stay and why they take off. The love you feel and the responsibilities you feel, I can see why some people go. They think, I’m never going to make this. Because it puts all of the heartbreaks you’ve had in your life in perspective. You’re like, Oh, I thought that was a broken heart. That’s been my experience. Now I’m sure there are some people whose relationships with kids are different. My kids are just, uh, they’re good. They’re just good kids, man.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman