Inclusion in an age of radical collaboration

May 4, 2021, 8:03 PM UTC

If there is one good thing that sticks as we slowly enter a not-quite post-pandemic world, I hope it will be radical collaboration. 

The vaccine makers have been the most visible example; the Accenture-led collaboration behind the April 2020 launch of People + Work Connect, a platform designed to make it easy for employers to find and hire pandemic-displaced workers was also inspiring, in part because it came together so quickly.

Here’s another to inspire you.

The Alliance for Global Inclusion, is a newly public collaboration between Intel, Snap Inc., Nasdaq, Dell Technologies, and NTT DATA, which began as an attempt to help the tech sector get way smarter about inclusion and equity way faster. 

“What we’re trying to accomplish is — one, to look across the tech industry and see if we can identify issues that we can continue to work on together, but also have a collective set of data where we post the health of the industry as a whole,” Dawn Jones, Intel’s chief diversity and inclusion officer and vice president of social impact, tells raceAhead.

At the heart of the offering is an in-depth and anonymous survey of global tech companies that forms the basis of an index, a tool kit, a best practice learning lab, and a report card.

 “Across tech, we had individual companies that are doing really good work individually, spending billions of dollars trying to diversify their workforce, trying to push this, you know, rock up the hill. What would it look like if we brought the industry together to work on shared goals?” says Jones. The index and outcome data will be used by alliance companies to help inform inclusion investment decisions back at their home companies — delivered as insights directly to the C-Suite. But the learnings are public and available to anyone. “The second part of the structure is to share our resources and toolkits with companies that are in various stages of their DNA and maturity,” she says. “Let’s share what we know.”

I will post a longer interview with the collaborators on Friday — if you have any specific questions for them, let me know — but I think it will be worth your time to dig into what they’ve published already. 

According to their data, the three most successful practices that tech firms contributing to the index have adopted are: 

  • A formal process for inclusive product design;
  • A process for tracking inclusion sentiment across the company; and 
  • Formal programs that encourage dominant culture employees to adopt inclusive behavior. 

You know what doesn’t seem to work? 

  • Programs asking employees participate in “diversity” mentorship programs;
  • Reward systems for inclusive behaviors; and 
  • Training people managers on how to talk about inclusion and diversity.

Hmmm, right? I’ll dig in a bit more and report back. 

Ellen McGirt

On Point

Boeing cleans house After declaring “zero tolerance” for racist, discriminatory, or racist conduct last June, the company has fired 65 employees and disciplined another 53, part of an anti-bigotry pledge made by Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun after the murder of George Floyd. “As we have witnessed horrific images in the news and heard heartbreaking stories from our people, our determination to advance equity, diversity and inclusion has only become stronger,” Calhoun told employees last week. Boeing, like lots of companies, are focusing on inclusion success in response from investor pressure.

Texas experienced the worst carbon monoxide poisoning event in recent history This brutal story co-produced by The Texas Tribune and ProPublica is a must read. The winter storm that took part of the state’s power grid offline, compelled people to take to their cars seeking temporary warmth. Some brought charcoal grills inside their homes. “In their desperation, thousands of Texans unwittingly unleashed deadly gases into homes and apartments that, in many cases, were not equipped with potentially lifesaving carbon monoxide alarms,” reports the Tribune. According to hospital data, Black, Latinx, and Asian Texans were a disproportionate share of the poisonings.  
Texas Tribune

Morehouse College scholars withdraw from debate citing racist treatment The Morehouse College debate team is a point of both strength and pride, with a strong track record within the various competitions, including the United States Universities Debating Championship (USUDC), which is the national championship for the British Parliamentary style of debate. But this year, the team decided to withdraw from competition after receiving racist taunts from other teams. “It would be a mistake to say this was about one round and one team,” Morehouse debate coach Kenneth Newby tells The Undefeated. “It was about anti-Blackness issues within the British Parliamentary debate space.”
The Undefeated

On background

Anti-Black racism in medicine, a syllabusThe good folks from Black Perspectives blog of the African American Intellectual History Society, have put together this rich and detailed reading list of research and insights that predates the pandemic, and includes sources from researchers from fields other than medical history. “The selection of texts here also reveals the gaps that remain between the histories of medicine and science and Black studies,” write Antoine S. Johnson, Elise A. Mitchell, and Ayah Nuriddin. “Though this syllabus is certainly not exhaustive, it lays important groundwork for bridging this gap and illustrating that questions of race and racism should be central to studying the histories of medicine and science. We hope that this syllabus serves not as an endpoint–but as a beginning.” Just the titles of the texts will rock you. Bookmark and share, please.
Black Perspectives

Do people really care about inequality? I’m flagging this piece from 2018 because it feels like a cautionary tale come to life. Atossa Araxia Abrahamian correctly that notes that income inequality has been a subject of much debate since 2008, but there is little real energy behind addressing it. Her review of the long history of inquiry into poverty and the wealth gap is instructive, but we quickly see that addressing the gap has been less of a priority than simply helping people be slightly less poor. During the economic crash of 2007/8, the language of inequality took hold, generating a ton of grants and white papers, but little actual policy change. “Are the new inequality activists interested in achieving equality, or just fighting inequality?” she asks. What hangs in the air: Will what has always happened — not much — happen again?
The Nation

How to survive the mango wars Writing fiction is a case study in authentic expression. And what is more authentic than food? Novelist Soniah Kamal takes us on a delightful journey of stereotypes, exotic signaling, and cultural cues gone badly wrong. “You need to rethink food in your novel, an American editor once told me,” she begins. But...really? “Would my Pakistani-American family really be eating so much pizza?” 
Literary Hub

This edition of raceAhead was edited by Wandy Felicita Ortiz.

Today's mood board

Billie Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Artwork by @chris_trevas on Instagram

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