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Can Black, Brown, and Asian Women Excel At Your Company?

First the good news.

There’s been some much-needed progress in the representation of Asian women in corporate leadership. For their black and brown peers? Not as much.

This one of the big takeaways from Working Mother Magazine’s 2019 Best Companies for Multicultural Women, their annual list of the companies who are doing the most to hire and retain women of color.

This year’s top ten (in alphabetical order) are Accenture, ADP, Anthem, IBM, L’Oreal USA, New York Life, Procter & Gamble, Verizon, Visa Inc., and WellStar Health System.

The Working Mother Institute has crunched this data since 2003, and surveys companies with more than 500 employees. The companies in this year’s cohort employ 2.3 million people at 38,000 worksites in every state, in a wide variety of industries including the nonprofit sector.

Asian women have seen a steady increase in representation across the board, from managers to senior managers and corporate executives, and in jobs with the real juice – executives with P&L responsibilities.

But the numbers for all but Asian women begin to drop once people move past their first leadership jobs.

In 2019, 5 percent of front line managers were black or Asian, and 4 percent were Latina. But while the percentage stayed at 5 percent for Asian women when they moved into senior management, only 2 percent of senior managers were black or Latina. Then the big divergence: Some 4 percent of Asian women at the Best Companies are senior executives, compared to 1 percent for both black and Latina women.

One possible explanation for the disparity might be leadership training.

While the companies offering leadership training opportunities either formally or through employee resource groups increased this year to 17 from 14 percent, not everyone is taking advantage of them equally. Some 24 percent of Asian women participated in leadership development in the most recent survey year, as compared with 16 percent of black and 15 percent of Latina employees.

If I were running a company, I’d want to know why some talented women are taking leadership training and others aren’t. The leadership numbers drop too precipitously as women move up the ladder in all the demographic surveys I’m aware of for this not to be an obvious point of focus.

I have to think that making leadership development training relevant, attractive, and attainable for all underrepresented women will make a big difference in these numbers going forward. Particularly for first-time leaders who only discover the limits of their preparedness or the problems inside their company’s culture when they transition into the role.

CEOs need to step in, and it looks like they’re doing just that.

Among other moves, like building diversity into their succession planning, some 76 percent of CEOs are tying the compensation of all senior leaders to diversity goals, and in a big jump, some 70 percent are now reviewing supplier-diversity metrics, up from 52 percent the previous year.

Click here to review all the findings and the entire list of fifty companies.

On Point

Sandra Bland recorded her own traffic stopThe video, which was not public knowledge until now, is the centerpiece of a renewed effort by Bland’s family to investigate her arrest and subsequent death in 2015. The video was included in an investigative report on the Dallas television station WFAA last night. A lawyer for the family says the fact that Bland was holding a cellphone and recording video undercuts the claim that the officer was in fear for his safety. The view from her perspective is jarring. The officer shouts at her and thrusts a Taser in her direction. “Get out of the car. I will light you up. Get out. Now.” The family settled a $1.9 million wrongful-death civil suit in 2016.New York Times

Former NBA star Rick Fox threatens to leave Echo Fox after an investor calls him a racial epithet
Fox is prepared to leave Echo Fox, an esports company he founded in 2015, citing “recent outrageous and abhorrent display of pure racism made by a significant Echo Fox shareholder,” according to people who saw an internal email from Fox on the subject. Fox also threatened to make his shares available for sale. ESPN confirms that the “vile language” had been used verbally and in email, and on more than one occasion. “These incidents are especially significant for us as Echo Fox boasts an unparalleled level of diversity in its principal ownership group, management, leadership and player base,” said the company in a statement. In an update, Fox says he’ll stay if the investor, identified as Amit Raizada, is removed. Also, Raizada is VERY SORRY.
ESPN

KKR teams up with Harlem Capital Partners to create a pipeline for underrepresented talent in finance
The new partnership is an extension of HCP’s own specialized internship program, which has processed some 940 applications and had selected some twenty-eight underrepresented future wizards since the program launched in January 2018. Under the new arrangement, HCP will be referring former interns or promising candidates to KKR for possible full-time jobs or internships. “HCP is excited to provide opportunities to diverse candidates trying to break into venture capital and later stage investing. We continue to be impressed by our applicant pool and are certain that investment firms will benefit from this talent,” said Jarrid Tingle, Managing Partner at Harlem Capital, in a statement. Click here for HCP’s new report, Power 200: Black and Latinx Venture Capitalists You Should Know.
KKR

Former anchor Soledad O’Brien calls out CNN for their coverage of the royal baby
CNN posted a story asking the least important question about the baby born to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex: “How black will the royal baby be?” Twitter was outraged, and O’Brien didn’t hold back. “CNN needs more people of color working in the executive, decision-making ranks. Obviously,” she tweeted. This is not the first time the media organization has been called out. Earlier this year, the National Association of Black Journalists placed them on “special media monitoring list” over their lack of diversity in the C-Suite.
The Wrap

 

On Background

We do not all look alike
Michelle Ye Hee Lee, a journalist for The Washington Post, is as a hard-working, female, Asian American journalist who is often confused for other hard-working, female, Asian American journalists. In this passionate and witty essay, she details the many times coworkers, sources, and random strangers have commented about a story, presentation, or past experience that didn’t involve her. It’s been an eye-opening look at what it means to be indistinguishable from others. Sometimes its awkward-funny, often, it’s not. “That I am an Asian woman in journalism does not make me a substitute for any other Asian woman in journalism. The women I’ve been confused with are among the most resilient, most talented, smartest and wittiest people I know… And, just to be clear, none of them is me.”
American Indian College Fund

Five black women are changing the way people view cosplay on Instagram
Known as Shellanin, Kiera, Snitchery, BlackKrystel, and Mimi, the five cosplayers are fighting stereotypes and creating a more inclusive image of anime and its fans. All five fell in love with anime when they were young, specifically Cartoon Network’s “Toonami.” Today, they bring their inventiveness and passion to their Instagram followers and to cosplay conventions across the country. They’ve also become expert at dealing with comments from trolls, who say things like, “your lips are too big to portray Misty [Pokémon]” or you’re “too dark to cosplay as Kaneki [Tokyo Ghoul].” Shellanin came up with the hashtag #CurlyCosplay to celebrate her Afro in response. Says Mimi, “I feel that race is irrelevant to cosplay, and that anyone can be whatever they want to be.”
El Mundo Today

The complicated definition of innocence
“Law and Order” re-runs aside, today, very few criminal cases go to trial anymore. Instead mostly innocent people are now forced into plea bargains, the often bizarre dance between a person stuck in the criminal justice system and the system that wants to extract some measure of efficient justice. But the horse-trading between prosecutors and defendants has changed dramatically. “American legislators have criminalized so many behaviors that police are arresting millions of people annually—almost 11 million in 2015,” explains The Atlantic’s Emily Yoffe in this deep dive. Plea deals are often capricious, and thanks to them, now millions of Americans have criminal records.
The Atlantic

Aidan Taylor assisted in the preparation of today’s summaries.

Quote

[R]ace has played a profound role in how we value this work in our culture. Some of the first domestic workers in the United States were black women who were enslaved, and racial exclusion has shaped their conditions for generations. In the 1930s, when Congress was discussing the labor laws that would be a part of the New Deal, that would protect all workers, Southern members of Congress refused to support those labor laws if they included protections for domestic workers and farmworkers. That history of racial exclusion and our cultural devaluing of work that’s associated with women now means that millions of women go to work every single day, work incredibly hard and still can’t make ends meet. 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.
—Ai-jen Poo on the plight of domestic workers