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raceAhead: MPW Heads to London, CEOs Convene in San Francisco

Bryan Stevenson, who founded and runs the Equal Justice Initiative, in front of the former courthouse where the 1910 lynching of Allen Brooks, a black man, began in Dallas.Bryan Stevenson, who founded and runs the Equal Justice Initiative, in front of the former courthouse where the 1910 lynching of Allen Brooks, a black man, began in Dallas.
Stevenson in front of the former courthouse where the 1910 lynching of Allen Brooks began in Dallas, Texas.Brandon Thibodeaux — Redux

Happy Monday!

A lot is happening at Fortune these days, and we have two upcoming, real-world convenings that should be on your radar.

First up is Fortune’s MPW International Summit which takes place Monday and Tuesday in London. It promises to be a powerhouse event, tackling topics from authenticity in leadership to the players disrupting travel and, of course, how to battle discrimination.

Check and follow the #FortuneMPW hashtag for coverage of the event.

Next is our CEO Initiative meeting in San Francisco June 25-26. I’m a new co-chair of the event, so it’s been a joy to watch it come together. The initiative speaks to the very core of how business is transforming today and is a big part of Fortune’s commitment to support a community of leaders who believe that they can address pressing social issues while still turning a profit.

Among those participating: Apple’s Tim Cook, Delta’s Ed Bastian, Deloitte’s Cathy Englebert, Synchrony’s Margaret Keane, Intel’s Brian Krzanich, and Genpact’s Tiger Tyagarajan, to name just a few.

I’ll be leading a town hall discussion on the link between corporate culture and innovation, and later a roundtable discussion on the real deal of building an inclusive company, all of which will be rich fodder for later coverage.

There are two other speakers I believe will be of specific interest to the raceAhead crowd. The first is Jacqueline Novogratz, the Wall Streeter-turned-founder of Acumen, the anti-poverty organization which has invested $113 million in 108 companies impacting 232 million people worldwide.

The other is Bryan Stevenson, who runs the Equal Justice Initiative, and who recently opened the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people and those terrorized by lynching and Jim Crow segregation. Stevenson was also one of the experts who helped Starbucks plan its racial bias training sessions. If you haven’t seen his extraordinary TED talk, by all means, invest a few minutes on this busy Monday and get inspired.



On Point

Inclusion was the big winner at the Tony AwardsIt was a lovely night filled with inspiring moments – and a couple of quick bleeps, as well. Andrew Garfield’s touching tribute to the spirit of the LGBTQ community after his win for best actor in the play Angels in America was a great start. “It is a spirit that says no to oppression. It is a spirit that says no to bigotry. No to shame. No to exclusion. It’s a spirit that says we are all made perfectly and we all belong.” The Band’s Visit, the story of eight Egyptian musicians suddenly stranded in a small town in the Israeli desert, took home ten awards, including best musical. Drama students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School performed “Seasons of Love,” from Rent, in a tribute to their teacher who was honored with the Excellence In Theater Education award.Hollywood Reporter

Silicon Valley isn’t hiring or developing black talent
Bloomberg’s Nico Grant has filed a terrific story that goes behind the ever-grim diversity stats in Silicon Valley, to also share how lonely it can be to one of the black 3% at, say, Facebook. Ignored, unmentored, and unable to break into the peer-review club, where employees agree to give each other good reviews, it can be isolating. “The world is whirling around you but you’re not in the loop,” said one black employee. “You don’t know what’s going on and that breeds anxiety.” Others have a bit more hope, and the experience varies from company to company. (Hat tip to LinkedIn, evidently.) “So much of the way business works out here is through networks,” said John Rice, the founder of the non-profit Management Leadership for Tomorrow. “That’s a structural impediment to fostering diversity.”

Create a better discrimination and harassment policy
This guide was written specifically for venture capitalists, though it would be useful to anyone who wants to move past boilerplate policy language. The work was led by Ginny Fahs, of #MovingForward, an organization that highlights VCs who are committed to a harassment-free workplace, and Freada Kapor Klein, Kapor Capital & founding advisor at Project Include. Some seem obvious until you realize how infrequently they’re followed: Consider concrete examples of harassment as you craft your policy, involve people who have experienced harassment to contribute to the process, and include research, lawsuits and recent news stories in your thinking. “Harassment and discrimination mean different things to different people, and a policy needs to standardize understanding of the severity of these behaviors, both within the firm and in interactions with third parties,” they write.

#MeToo hits the pews
The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest evangelical denomination, meets this week in Dallas for its annual convening. Last year, there was an emotional referendum to condemn white supremacy and the SBC’s historical justification of slavery and segregation. This year, the delegates will decide on a resolution that says that throughout the church’s history, male leaders have “wronged women, abused women, silenced women, objectified women.” The resolution follows several wrenching scandals involving church leaders. “Many women have experienced horrific abuses within the power structures of our Christian world,” said Houston-based teacher Beth Moore, who had published an open letter asking the evangelical world to do better. There is also a planned rally on day two of the conference, to address “the prevalence of abuse and its enablement within the Southern Baptist Convention.”
NBC News


The Woke Leader

Mazie Hirono is not here for your nonsense
Hirono [D-Hawaii] is currently the Senate’s only immigrant, and has been vocal in her concerns about President Trump. But she’s also become the most dogged “badass” on the Senate Judiciary Committee, as she attempts to navigate the rush to place judicial appointees before the midterm elections. She asks the tough questions: Regardless of appointment, she publicly asks every single nominee of they’ve ever been accused of sexual misconduct and if they’ve signed a non-disclosure agreement, to get them on the record ahead of any trouble. And she has an extraordinary origin story – traveling in steerage from Japan to Hawaii with her mother and siblings, sharing a crowded boarding house while her mother worked low wage jobs to keep them afloat. She’s even gotten Jeff Sessions to speak from the heart. Terrific profile.

Will the Supreme Court weigh in on black women’s hair?
The Supreme Court has not yet decided if it will hear the case against Mobile, Alabama-based Catastrophe Management Solutions Inc, who was sued by the EEOC after the firm withdrew a job offer after Chastity Jones, a black woman, refused to cut her locs. (The 2013 suit says the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.) But it’s worth taking a look at the claims in the suit, and why the fight matters. Jones is charging racial discrimination, while the company says it’s just a grooming policy that applies to everyone. But being pressured to adopt white standards of beauty are burdensome, harsh and expensive, and certain black hairstyles are part of a cultural definition of race, Jones argues. Click through for a history lesson on how the “dreadlocks are dirty” myth started – and which demographic group holds the most persistent bias against black working women with natural hair.

Why barns are painted red
No, it’s not about race, but it is about how facts get lost over time, the complexity behind even the most mundane things, and the cultural habits we take for granted. It’s written by one of my go-to explainers, former Googler Yonatan Zunger. The reason why barns are historically painted red is that red paint is cheaper. But why? “In fact, to answer this we have to go all the way to the formation of matter itself,” he says. It has to do with what makes a good pigment, what makes a plentiful pigment – red ochre in this case, and why red ochre so plentiful. It’s both good trivia, and a reminder to enjoy the journey when you’re trying to answer what seems to be a simple question. Nothing is simple – not hair, not paint, not life.


I love ADWEEK. It’s a publication I appreciate. And learn from. I’ve long followed them on Twitter. And when they invited me to do a cover, I was excited and thrilled. And the truth is, I’m still excited. I’m proud of the article. And I like some of the inside images a great deal. But, I have to be honest…I was taken aback by the cover. Look, I’m no stranger to Photoshopping. It happens a lot. In a way, we have become a society of picture adjusters – who doesn’t love a filter?!? And I don’t always take these adjustments to task but I have had the opportunity to address the impact of my altered image in the past and I think it’s a valuable conversation. Yesterday, however, I just felt weary. It felt strange to look at a picture of myself that is so different from what I look like when I look in the mirror. It’s an unfortunate feeling.
Kerry Washington