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raceAhead: CEOs Taking A Stand

There is something very different going on in the world now.

This is the central theme of the CEO Initiative, which is in full swing today.

By way of evidence, Fortune’s president, Alan Murray, ticked through a lengthy list of recent corporate responses to important social issues, ranging from Bank of America’s response to the North Carolina bathroom bill, to Starbuck’s willingness to engage deeply on race and bias after two black men were arrested while waiting for a friend in one of their Philadelphia stores.

“Not one of those things would have happened ten years ago,” says Murray, based on his three decades of business reporting. “’If it doesn’t directly impact my bottom line, I don’t want to have anything to do with it,’” was the former mantra of executives, he says.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, who kicked off the event last night, made it clear that he is not afraid to speak out on issues ranging from human rights and the environment to immigration. We’ve always been about changing the world, and you can’t do that by staying quiet.”

It’s part of the reason why he felt comfortable publicly decrying President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration policy that forced asylum-seeking parents to be separated from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border. Immigration is not just a “numbers” conversation, he said. “[T]here’s real people behind this that have real feelings.”

There are more unafraid CEOs yet to come. Follow the live stream here; my Town Hall discussion this afternoon addressed how inclusive cultures drive innovation. “Culture matters these days in Corporate America, and companies are looking to innovate in ways that will attract talent and drive performance,” Fortune’s Erika Fry writes in her recap of the discussion. You can also continue the conversation under the hashtag #CEOInitiative on Twitter.

On Point

An analysis of 177 tech companies shows little progress in racial and gender diversityIn one of the clearest snapshots of diversity in Silicon Valley to date, Reveal and the Center for Employment Equity at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, analyzed and anonymized federally mandated diversity data, known as EEO-1 reports, from 177 tech companies. (Only 26 Bay Area companies make their numbers public.) The interactive graphs, broken down by race and race+gender, paint a grim picture: Ten large technology companies in Silicon Valley did not employ a single black woman in 2016, and a third had no executives who were women of color. Three had no black employees at all. Six did not have a single female executive. And white men are overwhelmingly make it up the ladder into leadership positions. And yet, some companies are having an easier time handling the “the pipeline problem” than others. A must read and share.Reveal News

Target’s Chief Diversity Officer: Do not be afraid to be yourself
I’m not sure how I’ve managed to get this far in life without meeting Caroline Wanga, Target’s open-hearted diversity chief. She may be semi-famous for her penchant for costumes and jewel-colored hair, but she’s better known for her radical candor and openness. “It’s important for me to model what I’m asking people to do because there is real fear in bringing your authenticity to work, whatever that means for you,” she says. She’s been executing on an eight-point plan to increase diversity both on the store shelves and in the hiring and retention of employees. All goals are tied to compensation. The company seems to be moving in the right direction. Its eleven-person leadership team has four people of color; half their board come from ethnically diverse backgrounds and one-third are women; and 40% of new corporate hires this year have been racially or ethnically diverse.
Star Tribune

Study: Male political reporters are more likely to tweet each other
A soon-to-be-published study in International Journal of Press/Politics, says it all: “Twitter Makes It Worse: Political Journalists, Gendered Echo Chambers, and the Amplification of Gender Bias.” Male journalists reply to other male political reporters 91% of the time on Twitter, and of the 25 reporters who received the most replies from male political reporters, zero were women. The study includes every reporter with a public Twitter account who is credentialed to cover Congress for an English-language outlet, some 2,292 journalists, 57% of whom were men and 43%  women. “I’ve never seen statistical significance like this before,” said lead author Nikki Usher, who conducted the study while a professor at George Washington University.

Workers of color are still more likely to be paid poverty-level wages
On the fiftieth anniversary of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, the Economic Policy Institute finds that although the share of workers earning poverty-level wages has declined in the last three decades there is still work to do. One in nine U.S. workers are paid wages that would leave them in poverty if they are the sole earner in their family, they find. And the racial gap is real. In 2017, 8.6% of white workers were paid poverty wages, compared to 19.2% —nearly one in five—of Hispanic workers and 14.3%—roughly one in seven—of black workers, and 10.9% of Asian or Pacific Islander workers.

The Woke Leader

Report: Half of Latino immigrants on television are portrayed as criminals
This report is primarily a resource guide for writers, directors, and producers and helps explain key terms and hot-button issues within immigration, such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the U visa for victims of violent crimes. It was published by Define American, the immigration nonprofit founded by Pulitzer-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas. “These tools are written specifically for creative professionals, and we hope they will lead to increased representation and more humanized storytelling in television and film,” says the organization’s media director. But the report also contains a report card of immigration representation in 40 popular television or streaming shows. Half of Latino and a quarter of Middle Eastern immigrant characters were depicted as criminals. If the only immigrant you know is a character on a television show, this is clearly a problem.
Hollywood Reporter

How Black Jeopardy was born
Black Jeopardy, the hilarious cultural counterpoint to the mainstream version of the enduring SNL sketch, debuted on the show in 2014. It was the brainchild of co-head writer Bryan Tucker, who is white, who brought the concept to head writer Michael Che, who is black. In this lively Q&A, the two talk about how it began and why it works. “If you’re white, and you’re in these worlds, like I am a little bit, you’re still not totally part of things,” says Tucker, who’s worked on black shows before. “There’s a shared culture if you’re black that you just have and if you’re white you just don’t have.” Seeing the basis for humor, the two wrote the first sketch that aired with show host Louis C.K. At first, the comedian wasn’t sure about playing just a random white contestant who was confused. “So we made him a white professor of African-American history,” says Tucker. “He thought he belonged there.”

More breaking Coltrane news
In addition to a previously unknown album recorded by the John Coltrane Quartet in 1963 making its debut later this month, a new set of music created by his equally talented wife, Alice, is scheduled for re-release this September. Spiritual Eternal – The Complete Warner Bros. Studio Recordings is a remastered compilation of all three albums Coltrane released through Warner Brothers in the mid-1970s and will include a 24-page booklet with the original liner notes and rare photos of the artist and her life. Pitchfork has a terrific profile of Coltrane that you might enjoy, calling her “a respected yet divisive figure who was scorned by the jazz mainstream for most of her life… one of the most complicated and misunderstood of all 20th-century musicians.” In the eleven years since she died, she’s been slowly getting the respect she deserves. More about the new album below.


The music is within your heart, your soul, your spirit, and this is all I did when I sat at piano. I just go within.
Alice Coltrane