Skip to Content

raceAhead: What Makes a Best Company for Diversity?

It’s Monday, so let’s tackle the big stuff: Do you feel welcome at work? Do your colleagues trust management to chart an inclusive path for everyone? Do you collectively have a sense of pride in the work you’re able to do?

If you’re not sure, or even if you are, check out Fortune’s 100 Best Places to Work for Diversity list, an annual collaboration with Great Place To Work. The list is based in large part on candid feedback from employees themselves as part of a 60 question survey which measures responses from women, people of color of all genders, LGBTQ+ employees, Boomers, and people with disabilities.

All of it is fodder for the inclusion-seeking soul.

The survey aims to take a pulse on inclusion by measuring, among other things, the trust, pride, and camaraderie that non-majority culture employees report feeling at work, by comparing those responses with the reports of their majority culture peers.

As always, questions are more interesting than answers, right? So here’s two more for you. Is your company on the list? If not, why not?

In addition to offering a compelling framing, the list reveals some fundamental truths about how business works and who gets what jobs and why.

For example, ranked number one overall is Hilton, a global customer-facing hospitality leviathan for whom a lack of diversity would be a form of professional self-sabotage.

But the company on the list with the highest number of people of color is 24 Hour HomeCare, an elder care services company, and the company with the highest number of women is Bright Horizons Family Solutions, a child care and early education outfit. Both represent important, vital work, undervalued in society, and a huge opportunity for companies who can provide safe, dignified jobs for all caregiving professionals.

These are also the people who enable other people to work executive jobs. (More on this, below.)

The truth is, we are only now getting some of the data we need to fully understand the demographic makeup of the workforce and the experiences that people from non-majority cultures have within them. It’s why lists like these are so important.

Insufficient data is also why it’s important that we keep asking questions.

How did we get here? What works? What’s not working? What do people need to feel welcome? How can companies turn a vague business imperative into actual systemic change—one that will change the culture at large?

I’m traveling today to the West Coast to the fifth Fortune MPW Next Gen Summit in Laguna Niguel, and these questions are woven throughout the program.

There will be super-stars everywhere you turn. Here is just a smattering of main stage happenings: Anita Hill, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Backstage Capital Founder Arlan Hamilton, Microsoft SVP Peggy Johnson, Tesla’s new Head of Diversity & Inclusion Felicia Mayo, Target CHRO Stephanie Lundquist, Facebook Head of Global Policy Monika Bickert, Focus Brands President & COO Kat Cole, Chase Consumer Banking CEO Thasunda Duckett, Starbucks VP of Global Social Impact Virginia Tenpenny, and a closing interview and performance by singer-songwriter Elle King.

The agenda is here. Check out Fortune.com to catch the livestream.

If you can tune in, don’t miss the Town Hall session on Wednesday, December 12th, at 3:50pm Pacific Time, when we will attempt to crowdsource real tactics to help people, teams, and enterprises remove the blind spots that prevent us from seeing the true humanity of the people we work with.

Our experts include Katrina Jones, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Twitch; Karla Monterroso, Chief Executive Officer, Code2040; and Leyla Seka, Executive Vice President, Salesforce Mobile.

But, I’ve learned, every participant is a powerhouse in her own right. I can’t wait to hear what we have to say.

On Point

White supremacist found guilty in the death of Heather HeyerJames Fields Jr., 21, was one of the white supremacists who came to Charlottesville to attend the Unite the Right rally, bringing terror, swastikas and Tiki Torches to the college town. Heather Heyer, 32, was part of a group of counterprotestors. Now, Fields faces life in prison, convicted of intentionally driving his car into a crowd, killing Heyer and injuring many more. He was convicted of nine other charges, including aggravated malicious wounding and leaving the scene of a fatal accident.“This verdict sends a strong message to others that hate has no place in our society,” said the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League.New York Times

Inside the growing skin-whitening industry in India
One of the most popular treatments is called “Black Doll,” a laser skin lightening procedure that is part of the half a billion dollar “fairness” industry in India. Some 60% of women and 10% of men pay to have their melanin destroyed annually. One practitioner reported a 100% increase in the number of people who sought the treatment year over year. A woman interviewed in this Vice on HBO segment said she did it for work. “I have been rejected from every job, even though I have all the right credentials,” she said. “If I am fair, I will have better opportunities.” Advertising guidelines adopted in 2014 hoped to curtail the racist overtones of the ads, but have had little effect.
Vice on HBO

Pantene highlights beauty above gender
I missed this series of ads when they first hit last summer, but if you haven’t seen them, they are well worth the wait. Pantene has been known for emotional ads in Thailand, but this series, promoted under the hashtag #SeeBeautyNotGender, uses real transgender people telling their stories of isolation and acceptance. Taken together, the ad campaign reframes beauty as characteristics beyond gender, including strength, caring, and determination. (All with really nice hair, of course.) The ad campaign features Thai LGBTQ celebrities, and was created by GREYnJ United. It includes interactive Facebook and Instagram stories.
Mumbella Asia

World to Jack Dorsey: Stay silent and reprogram Twitter
Jack Dorsey is under well-deserved fire today after a series of tweets meant to provide insight into his spiritual journey backfired badly. The thread, sent to his 4.1 million followers, highlighted his dedication to Vipassana, a form of silent meditation whose “singular objective is to hack the deepest layer of the mind and reprogram it,” he wrote. The offenses were many, and include insulting people who live with chronic pain, and those who experience unchecked abuse on the platform he helped build. But his meditation retreat, a birthday gift to himself, took place in Myanmar, a country which has been accused of committing genocide against their Rohingya population, much of which was enabled by the use of social media. In a scathing dispatch, Techcrunch writer Catherine Shu intersperses Dorsey’s tweets with accounts from Rohingya survivors of horrific atrocities committed by the Myanmar regime.
New York Times

 

The Woke Leader

Healing Rohingya kids through play
Nine months ago, an innovative program was adapted for use in a refugee camp in Bangladesh housing  902,984 Rohingya Muslims. BRAC, the world’s largest NGO is bringing “play labs” to the camp, which brings play, music, and joy, albeit for a few hours a day, to kids who have witnessed the worst violence imaginable. For kids living in refugee camps, cramped, impoverished, and filled with traumatized people, the play labs offer a daily respite from their situation. The first labs were piloted in Tanzania, Uganda, and Bangladesh. There are some 513 in use and the concept is being adapted for humanitarian crisis settings. The labs offer a loose curriculum to help kids prepare for school, but it’s really about restoring their humanity. “I try to take their pain away through play,” says one play leader. It’s not a solution, but it’s a healing balm for shattered kids and families.
QZ

This career brought to you by domestic help
It’s the work that makes all other work possible, says Ai-jen Poo, an activist and founder of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, of the millions of women who care for our homes and the people inside of them, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. This work has almost always been done by women, mostly of color, who are treated as unskilled “help,” largely invisible and undervalued. “They earn poverty wages without a safety net so that the women that we’re counting on to take care of us and our families can’t take care of their own, doing this work.” This short TED talk dives into the legislative solutions that can help and makes clear why “the help” needs our help. And in an extraordinary twist, it shows how domestic workers, when organized, are able to band together to help others in amazing ways.
TED Women

Nanette and The Bad Feminist
The Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby, star of the Netflix break-out hit Nanette, first knew she was really famous when national treasure Roxane Gay, tweeted Gadsby early in her trajectory: “Nanette is simply remarkable. You moved me and have really made me think about humor, the self, self-deprecation and the uses of anger. Thank you so much. It’s just brilliant.” Then they met. And clicked. Then they met again at Gay’s new house in Los Angeles, a city both now call home. And they talked. And it is the best talk in the history of two women talking about body image, trauma, humor, race, writing, television crime procedurals, and fans. I won’t say another word.
The Guardian

Quote

Even though I’m alive, I’m dead. I’m nothing in the world any more. I was very strong before it happened. Why do they want to destroy us?
Mohammad Sobhi, survivor of Myanmar military attack, resident of Balukhali refugee camp