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raceAhead: Why Diversity Efforts Fail

March 2, 2018, 5:31 PM UTC

The week in review, in haiku



Teens march, Congress frets,

a church re-marries their guns.

A triggered country.



“I want the tariff,”

but I don’t want Alec on

T.V. (Agony)



“Add Omarosa

to the ‘Wakanda No-Fly’

list! Thank you, The World”



Miller time. Sookie

in drag. “Mike.” The Mooch. Becky

with the white lies. Next?



How To Get Away

With Scandal: Supreme Shonda

prosecutes Jim Crow


Wishing you a scandal-free weekend. Stay strong, nor’easters.



On Point

A new report explains lack of diversity in techA new report and a companion website from the Kapor Center released this week points to the lack of conviction behind the costly “hodgepodge of one-off efforts,” that have done little to move the needle on diversity in tech. "The data makes it clear that women and underrepresented minorities face a vast and complicated array of barriers keeping them from careers in tech," Melinda Gates said in a statement. The report identifies some of them – from unwelcoming K-12 classrooms and wealth gaps that prevent promising STEM students from effective college prep to the “harassment, inequitable pay, bias in promotion and toxic corporate cultures,” which drive them away if they do find a job. Click through for the proposed solutions.USA Today

So, where are the women in tech? Ask your campus recruiter
Wired’s Jessi Hempel reports on new research that shows that the campus recruiting process is often a turn-off for female candidates. The paper published in February by Stanford University postdoctoral fellow, Alison Wynn, examines tech company recruiting sessions “at an elite West Coast university” that were typically unwelcoming and in some cases, openly hostile to women. Some of the company presentations included sexist jokes and images, geeky references, and typically had only male engineers holding court. The women representing the companies were usually in support roles, handing out swag. The intimidating scene makes it difficult for female engineers to engage. “We hear from companies there’s a pipeline problem, that there just aren’t enough people applying for jobs. This is one area where they are able to influence that,” says Wynn. 

Refinery 29 knows where the women are
Enjoy this list of 20 “black women you need to know right now,” a celebration of black, female excellence in a variety of fields, from tech to fashion and entertainment. All should be bookmarked immediately - including Fortune’s own grit expert, Erica Joy Baker, and Black Ceiling profile subject, the writer/activist Brittany Packnett. The team at Refinery 29 says that while black women are getting praised for everything from their box office clout to getting out the vote in Alabama, “This is not just ‘a moment.’ This is us, and this will always be us. We’re not going anywhere.”
Refinery 29

Where are the people of color in academia?
It’s worth the subscription to the Harvard Educational Review, a quarterly publication, for this issue alone - every article focuses on race, gender or identity in some way. But if you only have time for one, start with this piece from academics Özlem Sensoy and Robin DiAngelo, the latter of whom identified the concept of “white fragility.” The co-authors rigorously examine the hiring practices of predominantly white universities to discover why their dreams for diversity are never fulfilled. “We argue that through a range of discursive moves, hiring committees protect rather than unsettle Whiteness. In so doing, they actively close the gates against racial diversity,” they write. Culture fit – we’re looking at you.
Harvard Educational Review

The Woke Leader

Did the Black Panther film appropriate from another culture?
In one way, the answer is yes – the film was heavily inspired by many cultures, and for the most part, was successful in walking the fine line between tribute and exploitation. But one reference has been raising eyebrows in India. At one point in the film, M’Baku, the leader of the Jabari tribe, says “glory to Hanuman,” referring to the tribe's gorilla god. But Hanuman is also the name of a monkey (not ape) deity featured in Hindu society, and star of an epic poem that has some oblique overlap with one of the storylines in the film. The question, raised by Charles Pulliam-Moore, is an interesting one: Why take the name of an actual religion’s sacred figure, and use it to bring to life a fictional, non-Hindu character? The reference to Hanuman has been censored out of all screenings in India, by the way.

A Nigerian chef opens a provocative lunch counter with a side of truth
Chef, activist and in some sense, performance artist, Tunde Wey has been running a pop-up restaurant in a New Orleans food court, designed to help demonstrate the impact of the racial wealth gap. After ordering, diners hear a short presentation about race-based inequality and its impacts, and are then are given a choice: White customers can either pay $12 for lunch or the suggested price of $30, while black customers are charged $12 but also given the option to collect the $18 difference as a restorative act. Wey has done similar short-run food events before. In 2016, he created traveling dinner series, featuring delicious vegetarian fare and difficult conversations about race, called Blackness in America. He seems attuned to every detail: Even the new restaurant’s name Saartj, has an important meaning.
Civil Eats

Men and women use cities very differently so we should design them that way
Since most humans live in or near cities, it seems like a fairly important question: What do you use public transportation for? When the city of Vienna asked the question in 1999, they got very different answers. Men went to work and came home. Women, however, used transportation for a wide variety of things, including shuttling kids, helping aging parents with errands, going to various appointments and the like. The answers led to some important design changes – like wider pavements and ramps – but begs a bigger question. Why don’t we do a better job assessing how planning and policy decisions will specifically affect men and women?
Fast CoExist


At the end of the market is a tall, whitewashed, conelike tower, with black intertwining snakes painted on all its sides, the temple. Inside, you will find an image of a saffron-colored creature, half man, half monkey: this is Hanuman, everyone’s favorite god in the Darkness. Do you know about Hanuman, sir? He was the faithful servant of the god Rama, and we worship him in our temples because he is a shining example of how to serve your masters with absolute fidelity, love, and devotion. These are the kinds of gods they have foisted on us Mr. Jiabao. Understand, now, how hard it is for a man to win his freedom in India.
Aravind Adiga