The Future of Diversity & Inclusion

I am always amazed at the ineffectiveness of diversity and inclusion efforts.

I am always amazed at how humans repeat the same mistakes time after time. Even when their actions and behavior are flawed and cause harm to others, they become cognitively illiterate and continue flawed efforts. This post’s focus is to discuss the blind belief of executive leaders regarding their view and understanding of diversity and inclusion initiatives and those who are leaders of diversity and inclusion efforts in their organization.

I have come to believe that the intent for developing diversity initiatives and hiring talented individuals to lead those initiatives are generally sincere. However, I view such positions as vice presidents for diversity and chief diversity officers as a barrier to recruiting, growing, and retaining diverse executives. Based on historical data, one might argue that diversity leads have had little influence on senior executives or board members’ decision-making process when selecting senior-level direct reports that remain primarily white males.

Data dating back to the mid-60s confirm that organizations that employ women and minorities in leadership positions are generally more profitable; they generate more revenue and long-term sustainability. Though white males make up only 38% of the population, thirty percent, when you adjust the numbers for Latinos that identify as white, recent reports estimate that they hold 70 % of all senior executive positions in Fortune 500 companies. White females hold about 20% of senior executive positions, which leaves 10% or one of ten senior executive positions for all others.

However, because such a small number of companies report verifiable diversity data, it’s challenging to know the real data regarding diversity at any level in organizations. As such, let us turn to scholarly data regarding corporate diversity, which is challenging to locate. However, David G. Embrick (2011) academic paper The Diversity Ideology in the Business World: A New Oppression for a New Age highlighted some astonishing data regarding diversity in corporate America. I contend that the data supporting his research has not changed significantly to date. Much of the data identifying diverse senior executives in organizations is reported as a percentage of employment improvements for women and minorities, not actual real numbers. This calculation method can show an astounding increase in the numbers of women and minorities when the exact amount of hiring and retention can be counted on one hand and, in most cases, on a few fingers.

I would argue that the number of women and minorities in executive-level positions has not changed considerably since 2011 when Embrick found that white males held 97 % of all C-suite positions. Even today, some executive recruiting firms exclaim that the numbers have worsened in the last three years because of the unfavorable support for women and minorities in executive-level positions from the current administration.

Though more recent reports show some improvement for white females, there has been little change in minority hiring, retention, and promotion numbers for senior-level executive positions. As previously mentioned, some scholars have placed the number of minorities in senior-level executive positions in Fortune 500 companies as 1 in 10.

For years people of goodwill, the federal government, and university research have argued that having women and minorities in senior executive leadership positions is good for business. So too, many have argued that diversity in executive positions and on boards is not only good for business, but it is the right social thing to do. This appeal to the pocketbook and the heart has had minimal influence in changing the appearance of either board members or executives in Fortune 500 companies. Thus, what are we left to do? We must alter the cognitive belief beliefs of senior-level hiring leaders. As such, we must revise our approach to diversity and inclusion in organizations across America.

First, I propose that we change the diversity and inclusion name to dignity and respect. I believe that the title diversity and inclusion is tainted because it has become incredibly commercial. Far too many organizations that are in the business of measuring the success or failure of diversity initiatives within an organization have become addicted to the capital they earn and not the crucial results they are measuring.

To prove their commitment to diversity, most organizations produce elaborate magazines, create various diverse groups, give fancy speeches, and hold diversity symposiums, and nothing has changed. We return to the same issue year after year, which is that senior-level executive positions are on hold for white males. Talented minority executives are often passed over for promotions and critical executive positions even when it is known that having little or no diversity in senior-level positions within organizations is detrimental to an organization’s long-term financial health. As such, here are my recommendations.

First, those few organizations that recognize Fortune 500 companies for achieving diversity excellence should have measurable standards. An organization’s ability to produce propaganda such as segregated groups and magazines should not be recognized as champions of diversity. Organization leaders should demonstrate a long-term commitment to growing diverse employees throughout their organization. They should provide measurable documentation that they are recruiting diverse candidates and that they are also retaining diverse team members in executive-level positions. Additionally, the companies that are in the business of selecting and awarding organizations the distinction of being the best should not take donations from organizations awarded high recognition for supporting diversity.

Second, I realize that this could be controversial because many of my friends hold leading diversity positions in organizations, which I believe to be the single biggest hindrance to improving organizational diversity. Those that hold the title VP, director, or chief diversity officer should be honored with a new title: the chief dignity and respect officer. Their role should be that of an educator, not an initiative creator. They should be social scientists educated in human development, organizational culture, and American history. Currently, I would be hard-pressed to find individuals that hold those positions doing no more than creating infinity groups, monthly diversity articles, diversity conferences, monthly meetings, and serving as a firewall between the employees and the senior-executive team.

Making these changes will be difficult, but the traditional approach to supporting diversity and inclusion time has ended. Let’s move our organizations into the future and make a positive lasting difference by creating a culture of dignity, respect, and diversity-friendly organizations across our great country through an intense reeducation effort.

Yes, I am always amazed at how we hold on to the paste even when it painful, outdated, and useless. 

References:

Diversity Jobs. (2020, June). Diversity at work. Retrieved from https://www.diversityjobs.com

Embrick, D. G. (2011). The diversity ideology in the business world: A new oppression for a new age. Critical Sociology. 37(5), 541-556.

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I am always amazed at human behavior!!!

Congress-Women

I am always amazed at how people can believe apparent lies. I am reminded of two sociological theories which can help explain how people can follow a blatant lie. B.F Skinner explains such behavior in his operant behavior theory& E. Durkheim in his physics of society theory.

Durkheim: Believed that we do not see the symbolic significance of our social ideas because we take them for granted. He explains that “they are a kind of glass through which we see the universe. Which we never notice until it is broken by some social disruption. Even when that happens, we tend to react by punishing the disrupting people instead of paying attention to the fact that there is a glass wall around ourselves.”  We see this happening with the four congresswomen and the helpless kids at our southern border.

We have an individual yelling at the top of his lungs that he is a patriot and others are not, and all one needs to do is to consider the facts:

He or no one in his family ever served in the military.
He or no one in his family ever served with the Red Cross or any other nonprofit that served the people of the world.
He does not pay his fair share of taxes.
He only is a bully to those that have little or no means to fight back.
He is demeaning to women.
Raciest to people of color.

I suppose Durkheim was correct when he wrote: “rationality always has a nonrational foundation from which it starts.” We see this in the behavior of many Americans today!!!

Black American​ History You Should Know

African American Narrative: The Meaning of Life!

As you know, I am a social scientist. However even before I became a social scientist, I had one burning thought, and that was what the meaning of life is? I always believed that if I could understand that simple thesis, I could master life…in other words I could find joy in all that I did. So, I recently ask scholars from around the country to share their definition for the meaning of life and here are some of their responses:

  • “That is a good one…High expectations for all (and especially family members.”
  • “civil and reciprocal behavior amongst each other.”
  • “The Joy of Being with Others.”
  • “Life means an opportunity to live, learn, love, and to become a seeker of its creator.”

However, for many of us, it is difficult to grasp the meaning of life because of the many harmful challenges that we have been forced to endure. I believe that if we could understand our human greatness our worth, we might find the meaning of life and place it in an easy to understand context “love your fellow human.” Our world history is a beautiful but very complex one. It is one of death, love and magnificent creations. If you would like to experience the meaning of life for one African as he transitioned from his homeland to America to become a slave, please continue and read the narrative below. Though slave trading started as early as 1482 or so, it was expanded exponentially in about 1650.

I am Kwame because I was born on a Saturday and my local surname is Dzidefo meaning courage. I am a healthy young man playing in the fields and a band of Portuguese capture me. They place me in chains. I am confused because we have been trading partners it seems forever. They take me to Elmina Castle near Acura Ghana better known today as the Gold coast.

The Portuguese are less interested in our gold because the plantations on the American mainland needed more labor to grow crops. Though it was never written, the migrates to the new world required Africans and their mores specifically because they were healthy, smart, strong with advanced customs. During that period Africans were making tools, building what was considered modern structures, and growing food to feed many. So, they came to the new world with the knowledge to farm tobacco, cotton, corn, and other crops. Yes, they were indeed more valuable than gold and that made slave trade priceless.

I am taken to Elmina Castle and placed in a small room with 600 other men. The room is maybe 12 by 48 or so. I could be housed there for weeks or months with little or no food to eat and buckets placed in the four corners for us to relieve ourselves. Finally, after a few weeks, my day has come, and I am led to the door of “NO RETURN.” I have heard of the horrors of the new world, and I am scared. I have been told about the harsh treatment of my fellow brothers and sisters and the many deaths of my loved ones.

Finally, I along with the survivors from the small room I am loaded onto the boat. I am saddened because I watched at least a third of my brothers die in that tiny room. As we are forced unto the ship, I watch many of my brothers and sisters jump into the ocean because they would rather die than go to the new world.

On the long journey to the new world, we have little food, and we are often beaten. Again, I am sad because I watch at least a 3rd of my brothers die and be tossed overboard because they could not or would not make the journey to the New World. As I drift off to sleep, I recall the things that I miss most…I wish for a bath, but most of all I miss cleaning and brushing my teeth.

We finally, make it to the New World, oh well about a 3rd of us made it to the New World to begin hard labor for six to seven days a week from sun up to sun down.

Folks only the strongest, smartest, and most creative Africans made the long trip from Africa alive, and many of you are the ancestors of those people, and there is nothing that you cannot achieve, I mean nothing. So, when you see or hear about great discoveries or advancements by African Americans don’t be surprised.

For example, it is not surprising that the world can eat because an African American developed crop rotation-enabling farmers to grow food seasonally, and refrigeration that could safely carry meats and other products across the country and the world. Don’t be surprised when you hear that an African American completed the first successful open-heart surgery or created the technique to remove cataracts keeping many of us with eyesight into our twilight years. Don’t be surprised when you hear that maybe a black man designed the plans for the White House and perhaps the supreme court building as well because there is substantial evidence to support that contention. Don’t be surprised to hear that a black man helped Steve Jobs create his first floppy disc, don’t be surprised when you read that the cells of a Black woman are responsible for assisting scientist in their discovery of cures for many deadly diseases. Don’t be surprised to learn that the idea for the phone was; yes, you guessed it that of a Black man. African Americans invented the stop light, many parts for the automobile, souls for your shoes, blood plasma, gas mask, many of the safety features in trains, parts for our rockets and calculation to help our astronauts travel safely in space.

Yes, we as all humans are indeed the blessed ones, and we are the meaning of life!

Stop the hate!

 

Flag-GOD

Trumps Humanitarian Positive!

I am always amazed at what we can learn from the youngest among us if we only listen. This conversation is essential for all Americans, and it is worthy to note that Mr. Trump’s hate talk and ugly incoherent rhetoric about everyone but those with a similar appearance to him might be the catalyst needed to lift minorities particularly young African American males. Allow me to expound on this conversation.

We had our neighbor over for Thanksgiving dinner, and she brought her eight-year-old grandson with her and what a delight he was. I don’t often have the opportunity to engage kids this age, so I took advantage of my time with him. This kid is super intelligent, he speaks Spanish fluently and is well on his way to learning how to speak Chinese. I am in awe with kids in this age range because they can quickly move between baby and teen behavior.  When he grabbed my wife’s snoopy dog and began to hug him and roll around on the floor, I knew that he was just a kid. However, almost in the same moment, he starts to speak about Mr. Trump, and he appears to be a young adult articulating Trump’s behavior with total clarity, in fact, based on Mr. Trump’s limited vocabulary this kid came off as a college freshman.

Ok, this is what amazed me. The young man said “Donald Trump,” he never addressed him as President “is a despicable human and when I am President, I am going to eliminate and remove everything he has done.” He went on to say that “Trump is a hateful man that only cares about some people but all people are important to me.” This next statement is what caught my attention and caused me to say to myself there is something positive about Trump’s presidency, and if he only knew that his nasty behavior is lifting black and brown kids all over the world, he might be quiet.  Although, based on my conversation with this little guy I am hopeful that Trump will continue with his hateful talk because something good is happening here in America and I believe around the world. Instantly returning to a big kid, he announced to me “so I am going to be the smartest president every even smarter than President Obama and Lincoln, and I will stop this hate and dislike in America.”

Suddenly he returned to an eight-year-old behavior and started to roll around on the floor, and a news spot pops up on TV about Trump, and just as quickly he became a young adult shouting: “I can’t stand watching or listening to that man.” Well, I for one am so happy that at eight years old this kid is clear about right and wrong and what a true humanitarian behavior is all about. I am even more excited that he understands the value of education and knowledge. Did I tell you that in addition to English he speaks Spanish and is well on his way to learning Chinese?

I say thanks to Mr. Trump because you are doing what no one else has been able to do here in America…your hate-filled talk is lifting our lost people, and like it or not they will have a say about the making of America’s future. I am hopeful Mr. President that some day you will use the power of that office to unite Americans and the peoples of the world and not cause more irreparable damage to our societies through anger and division.

Roy Whitmore, Ph.D.