Skip to Content

raceAhead: Allies Need Help

Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit 2018Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit 2018
Fortune's Ellen McGirt (far left) moderates a panel including Jennifer Tejada, CEO of PagerDuty, Cindy Robbins, President and Chief People Officer at Salesforce, and Terri Cooper (far right), Chief Inclusion Officer at Deloitte at Fortune's Most Powerful Women's Summit in Laguna Niguel, California on October 3, 2018. Stuart Isett for Fortune Most Powerful Women

RaceAhead editor (and food and cannabis reporter) Grace Donnelly documented one of the most persistent themes of the most recent Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, California: Allies need help.

Diversity is important and inclusive cultures are essential, but white men, who remain in the leadership majority, often don’t know what to do.

From her story:

That’s why it’s so important to narrow the broader conversation about workforce diversity to specific tactics that men can use in their roles day-to-day, said PagerDuty CEO Jennifer Tejada: “These men are super supportive, but many of them don’t know how to help.”

When she joined PagerDuty, returning to the tech industry where she worked in the 1990s, she was alarmed that most of the boards and investors she encountered were white and male.

“Things had maybe gone backwards since I left,” Tejada said, so as a new CEO she asked the men around her to work on increasing diverse representation at the company. “I told them, ‘This is not our reality and I’m not going to be able to do this by myself.’”

Now PagerDuty, an enterprise company that mainly serves male developers, has a workforce that is 43% women. Their leadership and engineering teams have both reached gender parity, Tejada said.

Tactics, talking points, and scenario planning have become part of the mix as well.

“The majority of our leaders really want to get engaged in this conversation,” said Terri Cooper, Deloitte’s chief inclusion officer. “So what are the leadership traits that they need to demonstrate?”

She said the consulting firm has encouraged its professionals to become more active and developed six traits to help them be more inclusive leaders, which they call the “six C’s”: commitment, collaboration, curiosity, cultural intelligence, cognizance of bias, and courage.

Which all got us both thinking. What specific tactics are working? What’s the best way to collect and share them?

Hit us back with your ideas while we mull this over at raceAhead HQ. We promised the crowd that we’ll be coming back next year with a much different panel. We’ll need your help to deliver.

On Point

The power of Taylor SwiftThe pop star’s decision to lay out her political philosophy and voting plans in an Instagram post on Sunday continues to reverberate with both her fans and, well, other people. First, her fans. Kamari Guthrie, director of communications for the nonprofit Vote.org, told Buzzfeed that her call to action caused a spike in voter registration both in Tennessee and nationally – up to 65,000 total new registrations in a single 24-hour period. Now, the other people. In the darkest parts of far-right websites, trolls melted down as they realized that the girl they believed was a secret white supremacist was, in fact, not. “A betrayal beyond words,” said one. “Nobody pisses off 4chan,” said another. “She will regret this move for that reason alone.” Click through for the genesis of the conspiracies around Swift and how racism, hate and misogyny play into the MAGA movement online.Washington Post

White Mississippians abandon their racist roots
Speaking of allies, this extraordinary piece from The Guardian does triple duty. First, it sketches out a roadmap for having difficult conversations, in this case, about the legacy of slavery and oppression in Mississippi. It also helps explain how deep certain beliefs go, and how a blind adherence to alternative histories allow otherwise good people to justify terrible things. And finally, it will give you hope: It is possible to reconsider one’s position and come out stronger for it. And then, help fix the problem
The Guardian

A network of underground shelters for abused Latina immigrant women
It’s not a new phenomenon. One of the informal shelters described in this devastating investigation has been in operation since the mid-1990s, taking in immigrant women who had been beaten at home or harassed or assaulted at work or in their communities. The women who form this network tend to have no formal training; one group, Líderes Campesinas, which organizes for the health and safety of women farmworkers has discovered that their members have been taking in women all across the country. It’s changed their focus. “This insight became a central tenet of Líderes. If they were going to fight discrimination at work — wage theft, health risks, sexual harassment — they needed to think about violence against women in both their public and private lives.”
California Sunday Magazine

The world transgender bodybuilding competition comes to Atlanta
It looked incredible. Billed as the world’s first such contest, the now annual International Association of Trans Bodybuilders competed last weekend in Atlanta, drawing athletes from across the country and one from Russia, making it truly international. Many were competing for the first time, while some had competed pre-transition. But for everyone, it seems, having a nongender opportunity to perform was an important experience. Click through for their poignant stories and one spoiler: U.S Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Wes Phills of Brooklyn, New York, won the award for overall winner. He performed his routine to Beyonce’s “Mine” featuring Drake, yes he did.
WSPA

The Woke Leader

All the dreams that’s fit to print
This gorgeous Lakota language news site is part of a broader effort to keep the language itself alive – there are only about 2,000 speakers left and most are elderly. Matthew Rama, one of the co-founders of Woihanble.com– which translates as “dream” –  has also established a Lakota immersion “language nest” daycare on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The language was once the target of a broad suppression campaign that prevented it from being taught on reservations and government schools; today, some 52 of the 176 known indigenous languages once spoken in the United States have gone extinct or dormant. For more, check out Jeremy Miller’s reporting High Country News. The Smithsonian has more on the efforts to save the Lakota language below.
Smithsonian

Don’t wear pith helmets
Melania Trump has returned from her first trip to Africa as First Lady, which included visits to Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, and Egypt. Some of her fashion choices earned some sharp commentary, specifically for her unsubtle nod to colonial-era garb, the white pith helmet. “It’s like showing up to a meeting of African-American cotton farmers in a Confederate uniform,” said one educator on Twitter. But the best information on the subject came from a thread posted by Elliot Ross, a doctoral candidate at Columbia University. “Media correctly describes the pith helmet as a symbol of colonial rule,” he begins. “But why did colonizers start wearing them in the first place?” Turns out 19th-century colonialists believed the tropical sun emitted radiation that attacked white people’s nervous systems and made them infertile, so the helmet was part of their protective gear. It gets worse from there.
Twitter

Why does southeastern Michigan have such a big Arab population?
It’s a tough question to answer because formal census efforts have undercounted Arab and Arab American populations for decades. The largest cluster by far is in Michigan, most famously Dearborn, but there are diverse Arab and Muslim communities throughout the region. There was one documented wave who arrived in the late 19th century, mostly Lebanese and Syrian Christians who worked as grocers. But Henry Ford may be the real reason. He preferred to hire Arabs immigrants rather than other immigrants or African Americans. There is also a legendary tale of a chance meeting between Ford and a Yemeni sailor who spread the word of good-paying industrial jobs throughout his travels. But wherever Ford opened up new factories in the area, Arab Americans followed. 
Michigan Radio

Quote

I think, as white people, we are taught that intentions are all that matters. We think that if our hearts are in the right places and we consciously doubt racism, we’re good to go. So that was a light-bulb moment to me, where I didn’t think intentions are enough.
Terri Kempton, co-founder White Nonsense Roundup