Diversity is good for business. See which companies are doing the best at it.
Workplace diversity isn’t simply a moral issue. It’s one of the most important predictors of a business’ sales revenue and profitability, according to research. Companies that reported the highest levels of racial diversity brought in nearly 15 times more sales revenue on average than those with the lowest levels of racial diversity, one 2009 study showed.
A recent report from Refinitiv, a global provider of financial market data and infrastructure, examined the diversity and inclusiveness of 9,000 publicly listed companies. Some of their findings showed that globally, the cultural diversity of board members has increased from five years ago, but has stalled at around 30%.
Europe leads the way with the most culturally diverse boards, while company boards in the Asia-Pacific region are becoming less culturally diverse.
Across industries, software and IT services scored highest for diversity and second highest for inclusion.
Of the top 100 companies, the U.S. had the most companies on the list, out of 24 countries. BlackRock (BLK) – Get Report ranks No. 1 on this list.
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“Inclusion and diversity is critical for what we do,” said Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture, (ACN) – Get Report. “It enables us to be innovative and solve problems for our people, our clients and our communities every day.” The Dublin-based software company ranks third on this list.
To find the most diverse and inclusive companies, Refinitiv rated 9,000 publicly listed companies, as measured by 24 metrics across four key pillars:
Diversity: This includes metrics such as board cultural diversity, board gender diversity and women managers.
Inclusion: This looks at factors such as flexible working hours, day care services and employees with disabilities.
People development: This score is based on career development markers such as internal promotion, management training and employee satisfaction.
News and controversies: This score tracks companies’ diversity and opportunity controversies as well wages or working conditions controversies.
The killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis on May 25 set off a national conversation about systemic racism and the experience of Black people in the United States. The ripple effects included a greater public awareness of racism and prejudice in many aspects of everyday life and touched various industries across the country, including gaming and esports.
Since then, people in esports and gaming have taken to social media to speak up about incidents of racism and to voice their support of Black Lives Matter. ESPN Esports reached out to Ezra “Samsora” Morris (Super Smash Bros. pro), Erin Ashley Simon (host and journalist, VENN), Amanda Stevens (journalist and diversity and inclusion consultant) and Malik Forte (producer and host, formerly Overwatch League), who have all been outspoken in their support of Black Lives Matter, to learn more about the issues that affect Black people in the gaming industry, including the challenges Black players, content creators, hosts and casters face and what teams, organizations and streaming platforms can do to foster a more diverse community.
What are some of the issues, challenges or obstacles you have faced as a Black person in the gaming and esports community or that you have seen others face?
Ezra “Samsora” Morris: I haven’t faced many challenges from my experiences. Of course, the occasional racist Black jokes may come around so often because people were spiteful of how well I was doing in Smash, but other than that, there haven’t been noticeable challenges. Many of the top Smash players are minorities, including the best Smash player, Leonardo “MkLeo” Perez, who is Mexican.
One of the obstacles I’ve seen Black people face in the gaming community is always the blatant racism. From seeing clips of people just gaming and hearing the opponents say slurs to just the racist comments gamers make on certain gaming platforms, it was always transparent and they were never trying to hide it.
Erin Ashley Simon: My experience entering into the scene and developing myself as a broadcaster hasn’t been the challenging aspect, but with being a public figure comes the blatant racism that Samsora mentioned. Whether it is on social media, in Twitch chat, it’s a systemic issue that’s ingrained in internet culture. And since the internet is heavily tied to gaming and esports culture, that’s a part of it as well. So, I’ve been on broadcasts where I was called the N-word, monkey and other derogatory words in the Twitch chat. I’ve been very grateful for the various opportunities within my career, but it can be difficult at times, and especially when you are the only Black person on a broadcast, and even more being Black and a woman.
Also, it’s important to understand the disparity within esports that oftentimes I don’t think is really at the forefront of many minds, not intentionally. But this is an industry that pushes PC gaming. There are various people within the Black community who can’t afford PCs, and so there’s a level of disadvantage when it comes to other Black people entering into the scene. Technology is and can be a barrier for many but especially for underserved and underresourced communities.
“I’ve been on broadcasts where I was called the N-word, monkey and other derogatory words in the Twitch chat. I’ve been very grateful for the various opportunities within my career, but it can be difficult at times, and especially when you are the only Black person on a broadcast, and even more being Black and a woman.”
Erin Ashley Simon
Amanda Stevens: For me personally, I think my trans-ness comes up much more than my race when it comes to the discrimination I’ve faced in the esports and gaming industry. But I also acknowledge that due to the fact that I am biracial, I come across as racially ambiguous — most times people usually either don’t know I am Black or question that I am Black.
As Erin said, one of the ways that I have seen a disparity for Black folks in gaming in esports is access to technology. When people ask me, “Why don’t we see more Black pros in esports?”, I often have to break it down into a conversation the person isn’t expecting. Specifically, the requirements that come along with being in the 1% of someone playing an esport title include having a personal computer and decent internet, and that just isn’t the case for a lot of Black families.
Separately, just like both Erin and Samsora have brought up, there is both the blatant and coded racism in things like Twitch chat. Often, it feels like many Twitch channels for esports events do not have a robust enough auto-moderation, and this leads to a lot of the more subtle racist things in the chat getting by. As someone who receives a lot of disparaging comments because of my trans-ness, I imagine it’s the same when you try to sneak in comments about race. You notice them, and they can mess up your flow.
Malik Forte: I’d keep you here all day discussing every little microaggression and beyond, but what stood out to me the most were moments where my work was viewed under a microscope — to the point where communities and colleagues didn’t allow me room for growth. It’s already daunting, as is attempting to integrate yourself within a culture where you are the minority (most of the time I was the only Black person involved in my endeavors), so to be judged on a completely different scale and allowed very little room for error was extremely frustrating. There were moments where this brought out the best in me, because I knew that there wasn’t much opportunity for me to slip up, but most of the time this can be very stressful and even demoralizing.
How can teams, organizations and streaming platforms foster a more diverse community and make it more welcoming for Black people?
Samsora: I think teams, organizations and streaming platforms can foster more diversity in the community by partnering more with Black people. In the Super Smash Bros. scene, it is very well done because there were plenty of partnered Black people before COVID-19, so a lot of the scene is diverse with everything. But when you look at other games such as League of Legends who have only one Black person (Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black), it doesn’t seem diverse. But I think it’s based on game by game. … For Smash, it was always diverse.
Simon: Teams, organizations and streaming platforms can foster a more diverse community and make it welcoming by making it clear that they will not tolerate any form of racism, sexism, etc. And (2), by providing resources that will help to develop people and talent so that they can enter into this space. Aligning with colleges and schools is a great way to get the youth engaged in PC gaming early on even if they themselves don’t have one at home.
But also, career and talent development is important for sustainable growth. … There’s so many talented Black streamers, content creators, casters, broadcasters and journalists, but there’s very little support in terms of explaining what they need to do to take things to the next level. Most, for example, don’t even know how to set up an appropriate reel, and neither did I, but I had someone within traditional media who helped to develop me. If I didn’t have that development, could I have missed out on opportunities? Possibly. And especially for those who come from low-income areas, that information can be a big difference.
Stevens: When I think about this question I think the first thing organizations really need to consider is making sure that they come from a place of authenticity. Obviously, at some level, every org wants to be diverse — whether that’s in the players they retain, the staff they hire or the initiatives they activate. But it can easily go wrong if the community doesn’t view it as authentic. The easiest way to be authentic is to not be thinking of what to do for, say, Black History Month, but how do you promote diversity year-round? When I talk to clients, I often remind them that you don’t have to overreach to achieve this.
Do you have merch? Then use Black models. Do you work with influencers? Then try to find Black influencers who fit your organization. Need a host? Look at Twitch streamers and YouTubers who are Black or actively put out casting calls for Black content creators. One of the things I really want to touch on is that often people talk about finding the “most qualified” person for an opportunity, which sounds great in theory. But when we already admit that there is a lack of diversity in our space, how do you think people build up those qualifications? At least in the non-player sector, we really do need to explicitly be working toward diversity or we won’t see any change in this industry.
Forte: There needs to be more Blacks, people of color and women in positions of leadership everywhere. From the community organizers, to the teams, to the broadcasts and productions, there needs to be more representation across the board so that everyone feels accounted for and welcomed. And it doesn’t just start with diversity — there needs to be inclusion on all of these fronts as well. The entire landscape of people should have an opportunity to see things and weigh in on decision-making instead of it always being only white men speaking for everybody.
How receptive would you say the gaming community has been to the Black Lives Matter movement? How has that changed since the protests following the death of George Floyd?
Samsora: I think the gaming community has been highly receptive to Black Lives Matter. Many top gaming platforms/streamers/personalities have been very vocal about the situation, and a majority of gamers agree with them. I can say the Smash community has been vocal about the situation and has highly positive reactions to Black Lives Matter. It changed for even more powerful reinforcement following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. More fundraising campaigns for the cause and more people from the gaming community were being vocal.
Simon: I think the world and the gaming community woke up about Black Lives Matter with the death of George Floyd. I think the reaction was highly receptive on social media, and it was great to see so many people come together. But I can’t quite speak on what that long-term effect looks like because it’ll take time to see how much the message resonated with different teams, people and organizations. … I’m optimistic, though, and have been working with several organizations that want to change things. So, it was a great start, but this is a marathon and not a sprint. The next steps are crucial.
Stevens: I’ve been a little disappointed honestly in the way esports has handled Black Lives Matter and talking about the murders of individuals like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. While I am appreciative of the supportive messages from most teams in the Overwatch League and in the various League of Legends leagues — that’s all they were in most cases. Just words. We’ve yet to really hear anyone talk about diversity initiatives or discuss how they plan to empower Black and brown folks to be able to break into the esports industry.
Sure, some players and orgs donated to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, but that’s only one axis of supporting BLM. That was June. What about July? Or currently, October? Like Pride Month, organizations are very quick to change their social media avatars or sell some merch, but also like Pride, commitment to BLM cannot just be a one-time thing. If these orgs really want to commit to improving the diversity gap in esports, there needs to be some tough conversations and systemic changes happening in the industry, and I honestly don’t see anyone making the effort.
“Obviously, at some level, every org wants to be diverse. … But it can easily go wrong if the community doesn’t view it as authentic. The easiest way to be authentic is to not be thinking of what to do for, say, Black History Month, but how do you promote diversity year-round?”
Forte: I think there’s been a good amount of awareness and outreach made by companies — even with a lot of it coming across to me as performative. I think it’s very important to be persistent about civil rights issues because a good portion of the core demographic of gamers is affected by them. And many notable streamers within the gaming community have definitely been very vocal, such as Benjamin “DrLupo” Lupo and Tyler “Ninja” Blevins — all of which has been relieving to see. The allyship is very important, and I think that despite the often tone deafness of many white males in the gaming community, many have taken it upon themselves to position themselves to be better allies moving into the future.
It has been several months now since the widespread protests and so much of a spotlight was put on Black Lives Matter. What do you think is the best way to keep the conversation going?
Samsora: The best way to keep the conversation going is to push the issue even more and to remain vocal about it. As of recent, I have been hearing ZERO things about the BLM movement in the gaming community. The gaming community is especially trendy because of new games always coming out, and that would be the next big topic. The main way to keep the conversation going is to remain vocal about it.
Simon: The best way to keep the conversation going is to keep talking, amplify the message, educate the community and take action. And especially addressing issues within the community consistently. This shouldn’t be a conversation that is happening only when it’s trending on social media. It requires ongoing action, planning and adjustment/support. And especially for those who are already established in the industry, it’s our responsibility as well to help continue the conversation and push for change.
Forte: Well, first I’d like to say that the protests are still happening. Every day. It might not be getting the same national media attention, but there are still folks out there putting their bodies, lives and freedom on the line for the greater good. The best way to keep the conversation going is for the gaming community to elevate and champion individuals who live under the rain cloud of racial discrimination on a daily basis. For us, this is not just a movement or a one-off scenario — this is our experience from when we wake up to when we lay our heads down to rest. And for that reason, you’ll often hear us sounding off about these matters regularly, reminding people that the problems still persist.
Stevens: I think everyone kind of hit the nail on the head. The protests haven’t stopped happening. And, if I’m to be frank, I don’t expect them to stop until we see widespread police reform in this country. While it is important to keep the conversation around why people are protesting going, I think it is equally important to talk about the “Black Lives” part of BLM more.
There is so much more to the Black experience in the U.S., and around the world, than being murdered and brutalized by police. That’s why I continue to find a lot of the BLM statements made in esports and gaming to be a farce. So you matched some donations to an overloaded bail fund. You said you stand in solidarity with the Black community and are shocked by the senseless murder of George Floyd. OK. That was months ago.
What are you doing today? What do you plan on doing next week? Next month? Year-round? The way we, in esports, keep the conversation going is empowering Black folks. We KNOW there is a diversity problem, and although everyone says they want to do something about it, I don’t see it. Unfortunately, the conversation will be kept going by us — the folks who are in the crosshairs — because it doesn’t seem like our community completely has our back.
The brutal killings of Black Americans including George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless others this year have sparked a national reckoning on race and racism not seen in America since the urban uprisings of the 1960s. Hollywood was quick to join the chorus of institutional voices across the nation pledging support for the protesters and their calls for social justice. What was less clear, however, was the degree to which key industry players would put their money where their mouths were, stand on the right side of history, and take actions that might actually move Hollywood in a direction that advances movements for progressive change.
In a “Dear Hollywood” letter, the Committee of Black Writers of the Writers Guild of America West called the industry’s bluff:
Hollywood, what you do next is paramount. As the most powerful entertainment industry in the world, we challenge you, the powers that be, those individuals with unmistakable privilege, the elite executives who gave the ok on those statements, to begin instituting real systemic change. Basically, either you commit to a new, institutionalized system of accountability with and to Black writers, or you prove that you’re putting on just another strategic, virtue-signaling performance deemed necessary to survive the times. But you won’t be able to survive without the radical inclusion of Black writers and artists on your sets and in your studios.1
The Committee of Black Writers’ claim about the necessary connection between the “radical inclusion” of diverse talent and Hollywood’s survival isn’t hyperbole. Not only is opening up the structures of Hollywood to more inclusive storytelling the right thing to do, it is also essential to the bottom line in an increasingly diverse America. As the UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report series, which we write, has documented, people of color — 40.2 percent of the U.S. population in 2019 and growing — express a clear preference for storytelling that centers people like themselves, as well as narratives with which they can relate, in television shows.
The most recent report in the series, which was released today, drives this point home by revealing critical differences in the top 10 shows by household race and ethnicity. For example:
Each of the top 10 broadcast scripted shows for Black households in 2018-19 featured casts that were at least 21 percent minority.
Nine of the top 10 broadcast scripted shows for viewers 18-19 and for Asian and Latino households in 2018-19 featured casts that were at least 21 percent minority.
Each of the top 10 cable scripted shows for Black households in 2018-19 had casts that were at least 21 percent minority; the same was true for four of the top 10 shows for Latino households.
Seven of the top 10 digital scripted shows for Latino households in 2018-19 featured casts that were at least 21 percent minority; the same was true for six of the top 10 digital scripted shows for viewers 18-49 and for Asian and Black households.
When the first phase of the Covid-19 pandemic came about in the beginning of 2020, employee safety and how to work remotely were top of mind. As organizations continue to navigate this time of uncertainty, I’ve found that the areas of concern around remote work are now shifting to employee motivation, given that working from home is no longer a short-term or temporary situation for many.
So, how do we, as executive leaders, motivate our managers and individual contributors to maintain productivity while they work from home?
Adjust your goals.
The first tactic is to shift goal-setting to shorter time horizons of one to two weeks. This could mean focusing on near-term tactical goals or breaking longer-term, strategic goals into smaller objectives. This helps set clear, tangible expectations that employees can visualize concretely. This can also help you avoid overtly speaking about long-term objectives that might be caveated by the various (and very real) downturns we’re facing today and that might be contributing to feelings of anxiousness among your employees.
For example, communicating about the new, large-scale and costly digital transformation you were intending to undertake pre-Covid-19, only now with several caveats around controlling costs pursuant to the financial health of the organization, is not motivating. However, what is motivating is parsing the large transformation into an achievable and smaller goal, such as moving the needle in operational efficiency by 1 to 2% in a particular work stream and a particular location in the next week or two. This is much more digestible while still driving toward the organization’s mission.
Use time-management techniques.
The second tactic is to try the Pomodoro technique, named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer. This approach suggests setting a timer for a 25-minute burst of focus (i.e., turn off web browsers and all social media, banners, alerts, etc.). Once those 25 minutes are up, give yourself a five-minute break. Then repeat.
I’ve found this technique works well with tasks that require individual focus and also team-centric tasks. Jumping on your video conferencing platform of choice to recreate the feeling of in-person team camaraderie can be replicated in the breaks, especially if your team is trying to problem-solve. This not only increases individual motivation but also engenders a collaborative culture.
Recognize your stand-out employees.
The third tactic is to continue recognizing your high performers for results. I’ve observed that there has been much discussion recently about how to accommodate employees and encourage a work-life balance. While this is important, I also suggest recognizing and rewarding your superstars as this continues to be a key factor in productivity and dedication.
With the current economic climate, the rewards you offer might not be a significant financial benefit, but a simple thank-you note, recognition in a company forum or a small token such as a gift card can continue to make your employees feel valued.
Tailor your approach to communicating with your team.
The fourth tactic is to tailor your employee-engagement approaches. Some organizations might just rely on push communications and leave the cadence and channels of check-ins to be managed on an ad-hoc basis by immediate supervisors. But as we continue navigating the pandemic, using pulse surveys, curating open-listening channels and experimenting with new ways of working becomes more important for tailoring.
For example, feeling empathy for employees who are parents with school-aged children and the challenges they are undergoing tends to be widely understood. But you might also have employees with less visible dependents, such as elderly parents who they support, or employees with no dependents who are now feeling socially isolated and have challenges that are less visible and/or less spoken about. Continuing to solicit and engage in two-way dialogue across your workforce is critical to sustaining the new remote-working norm.
In summary, I believe the employee experience at this point of the pandemic should shift from safety and how to work remotely toward a focus on maintaining motivation and productivity for your remote workforce. Try the four tactics above to move the needle: breaking goals for your employees into smaller items, testing a time management technique, recognizing your high performers and paying attention to how you engage with your employees.
To be an effective leader, taking the time to evolve through personal development courses and programs is highly productive and incredibly beneficial. It doesn’t just result in your own growth and improvement: It trickles down to benefit the teams you lead and positively influences the organization you work with.
However, no matter how many courses you take, life experience is often the biggest and most influential contributor to what you learn and, why you learn it.
There is a famous quote by Confucius that says: “If you’re the smartest one in the room — then you are in the wrong room.” The meaning of this quote infers that mentorship and diversity are imperative to expanding your knowledge and improving yourself as you strive to reach your personal potential. After all, if everyone in the room is thinking the same way, has the same beliefs, or likes the same things, what benefit does it have for those in the room? It certainly doesn’t improve one’s ability to be innovative or think critically.
Diversity in the workplace results in a multitude of organizational benefits all the way down from the C-Suite to the entry-level employee. In your role as a leader, embracing and nurturing diversity among your team and colleagues will ultimately result in your ability to lead more effectively, compassionately, and successfully.
Here are four reasons why diversity in the workplace makes you a better leader.
You’ll discover the power of multiple points of view
Because a diverse workforce is comprised of people from different cultures, different beliefs, and different backgrounds, they are most likely going to have different experiences, skills, and abilities. As a leader, you will have an opportunity to observe and learn from these differences and, discover a multitude of new and effective ways to implement ideas and take action. Having multiple points of view will help expand your understanding of your team, your customers, and your organization.
You’ll improve the way you think
When everyone thinks the same, it becomes more difficult to think “out-of-the-box” and you can often get stuck in your own thoughts and habits. Employees with different backgrounds and experiences will introduce you to new ways of thinking. You’ll begin to ask questions differently and evaluate thoughts more critically. You won’t have to spin your wheels wasting time on solving a problem because the way you think will be more efficient and productive.
The link between team engagement and diversity is pretty clear. When you choose to be a leader who encourages and creates opportunities for diverse employees and team members to feel included and accepted, those workers become more engaged and feel less overlooked. They’ll respect you for respecting them and, in turn, they’ll take responsibility for getting the tasks done that you assign to them. As a result, not only will you have an improvement in your team productivity, you’ll become more compassionate and achieve a greater understanding of how you can make a measurable difference in your world and the lives of others.
You’ll continue to grow and improve
In a diverse and progressive workplace, the pool of people to choose from presents a greater opportunity to discover exceptional employees and to develop strong teams. Working with people of different backgrounds, experiences, and working styles contributes to the overall success of an organization. As a leader, these contributions provide an opportunity to incorporate this diverse knowledge into what you do, why you do it, and how you do it. And, as an added bonus, you’ll continually improve and grow not just as a leader but also, as an individual.
When you continuously demonstrate to your organization and employees that you value their hard work and results regardless of any individual differences, they’ll be more likely to encourage and support your efforts to lead them. Surrounding yourself with individuals regardless of race, culture, nationality or religion will be a testament of who you are as a leader and as an individual. As a result, you’ll improve morale, engagement, and productivity from the people you lead and, become the example of leadership to follow for many others.
In 2019, only 15% of Starbucks’ senior leadership roles were held by people of color.
As part of Starbucks’ commitment to improving inclusion and diversity within its workforce, the company said Wednesday that it plans to start a mentorship program, partner with non-profits like United Way to place outreach workers in its cafes and hire more minorities to work in corporate roles.
By 2025, the Seattle-based coffee company vows to have Black, Indigenous and people of color represent 30% of its corporate employees at all levels and at least 40% of retail and manufacturing jobs.
At present, about 47% of those overall workers identify as a minority, but the company falls short of the target moving up the hierarchy to store managers or regional directors. In 2019, only 15% of Starbucks’ senior leadership roles were held by people of color.
This data was also shared publicly on Wednesday, along with the chain’s past three years of EEO-1 reports, a federally mandated survey about a company’s workforce demographic.
Like many recent corporate initiatives, the pledge follows months-long protests against racial inequality and police brutality in response to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
But Starbucks has been reckoning with racial bias for some time now. In April 2018, an employee in a Philadelphia Starbucks called the police on two Black men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, in a Philadelphia Starbucks, who were waiting for a business meeting to start before ordering anything. Nelson said he asked to use the restroom immediately after walking into the Starbucks but was told it was for paying customers only. A video of the incident went viral, sparking outrage and accusations of racism against police and the company.
Then, in May of the same year, the company closed down all of its U.S. company-owned cafes for a day to host a racial bias training. Starbucks also commissioned an independent civil rights assessment in response to the incident and, the following year, hired Nzinga Shaw as its first global chief inclusion and diversity officer.
In 2018, following the Philadelphia arrests, the company modified its policy to let anyone sit in its cafes, or use its restrooms, even if they don’t buy anything, which placed more pressure on baristas who might not be equipped to deal with people in crisis. Now, Starbucks is planning to hire outreach workers in its stores to reduce law enforcement intervention.
“This kind of outreach further ensures that Starbucks locations are welcoming places for all,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson wrote in a letter to employees.
To help implement these measures throughout the company, Starbucks will create an Inclusion and Diversity Executive Council — tied to executive compensation — that will join the Board Diversity Alliance, which includes other corporate brands like Uber and Macy’s. In addition, Starbucks’ foundation will contribute $1.5 million in neighborhood grants and $5 million on an initiative to support nonprofits that serve minority youths
The Labor Department last week questioned Microsoft’s stated goal to double the number of Black leaders in the company.
HIRING IS NECESSARILY exclusionary. Hiring one person for a position means not choosing someone else. Some forms of exclusion are acceptable (an applicant lacks talent); some are unacceptable (an applicant lacks a penis); and some seem good, but mask bad intentions (an applicant wouldn’t be a good “culture fit,” often a smokescreen for race or sex).
The Trump administration is stepping up its scrutiny of diversity initiatives, creating a dilemma for tech companies. Many promised to support racial justice this summer in the wake of George Floyd’s killing. Now, they must navigate conflicting pressures to both increase and suspend their efforts to hire more people of color.
Both sides of the diversity culture war pledge the same value: It’s wrong to exclude someone because of their race or sex. But unfair exclusion is in the eye of the beholder. The Trump administration says recruiting and hiring more people of color is exclusionary. Activists and many employees hold that the paltry number of Black and brown employees at all levels in Silicon Valley is proof of exclusion.
Last week, the US Labor Department sent an inquiry letter to Microsoft, warning that its June commitment to doubling the number of Black leaders in the company “appears to imply that employment action may be taken on the basis of race.” Dev Stahlkopf, Microsoft’s corporate VP, posted a lengthy rebuttal, disputing that the company was doing anything illegal and defending its goal to diversify.
“We hire and promote the most qualified person,” Stahlkopf wrote. “And nothing we announced in June changes that.”
The Labor Department letter is just one part of an administrative assault on diversity efforts nationwide.News of the future, now.Get WIRED for as low as $5.Subscribe Now
In September, Trump issued an executive order banning critical race theory and racial sensitivity training from federal agencies and organizations that receive federal funds, which includes many universities, as well as tech companies like Microsoft. Trump’s order called this “blame-focused diversity training” that uses “ subtle coercive pressure to ensure conformity of viewpoint.” Since then, some colleges and businesses have suspended anti-bias training and reviewed diversity initiatives to avoid falling out of compliance. Earlier this month, the Justice Department sued Yale, claiming the university discriminates against white and Asian applicants.
“We hire and promote the most qualified person.”
DEV STAHLKOPF, VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL COUNSEL, MICROSOFT
The Trump administration has been hostile to diversity efforts since its inception, but the effort shifted into overdrive as the election nears and companies are asked to make good on their pledges for racial justice. After the September executive order, the Office of Management and Budget encouraged federal agencies to review diversity training material that contains terms like “white privilege,” “intersectionality,” “systemic racism,” or “unconscious bias.”
Last week, the actor William Jackson Harper tweeted that the order amounted to “censorship” after two military academies pulled out of a planned screening and discussion of Spike Lee’s 1992 film, Malcolm X. The nonprofit Arts in the Armed Forces, which offers arts and film opportunities for service members and cadets, invited Harper to screen a film of his choosing followed by a Q&A. After Harper, the son of a Marine, chose Malcolm X, officials from two academies said they were concerned the film would violate the order against encouraging critical race theory. The screening continued without the two academies.
“This executive order is an attempt to censor certain difficult truths that still haunt our society,” Harper tweeted.
Fundamental to the field of critical race theory is the idea that certain groups of people are rewarded with advantages they haven’t earned and rectifying this takes years of intentional effort. Ideas and concepts relating to critical race theory are present in Big Tech’s June statements on racial justice as well as annual diversity reports.
Whatever the rhetoric, there’s been little result. Between 2014 and 2018, Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft each reported that the percentage of Black tech workers at those companies increased by less than 1 percentage point.
Diversity has long been a challenge for the tech industry. If public support for the ideals of racial equity meant substantive change, the industry would look very different. But to those who believe attempts to increase diversity are exclusionary, the lack of results is immaterial.
If a company-wide commitment to hiring a Black manager over a white manager is evidence of unfair discrimination, what does it mean that only 3 percent of Microsoft’s leaders are Black? Since 2015, the company’s workforce has climbed to 4.5 percent Black from 3.4 percent Black. Presumably thousands of white applicants were selected for leadership positions over black candidates. If both of these statements are true, which one is proof of unfair exclusion?
The Trump administration’s new pressures on diversity initiatives will likely impede the hiring of people of color across multiple industries, including tech companies that don’t have Microsoft’s legal budget. This will have a bigger impact on the makeup of companies than diversity initiatives, which was likely the goal. What won’t change is whether anyone sees the statistics as evidence of systemic exclusion. If these diversities initiatives do little, Trump’s goal is to do nothing.
In the midst of unprecedented teacher hiring challenges across the nation, DIVERSITY in Ed Magazine & Online Service is celebrating its 15th anniversary with another Virtual Teacher Recruitment Fair for teachers on October 28, 2020 from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, CST.
A trusted source for expert career guidance for teachers from diverse backgrounds, as well as a key partner to districts and recruiters across the nation, DIVERSITY in Ed is proud to continue its work of connecting talented, qualified teacher candidates from diverse backgrounds with the schools and districts looking to make offers and diversify their faculty.
In their annual fall issue of DIVERSITY in Ed Magazine, which is available online, the diversity recruitment specialists also announced two new exciting partnerships that will add to their robust portfolio of supports for candidates and recruiters. In the Publisher’s Note of the issue, Trina Edwards, writes:
I’m thrilled to announce our new partnership with TEACH.org, which will help those considering a teaching career explore the profession, learn how to earn their license, and find a path to teaching. We are also excited to launch a partnership with Graduate Schools of Education nationwide intended to help them diversify their student body, and ultimately improve the “pipeline” of diverse teacher candidates.
For more information on these new partnerships and how to get involved, visit www.diversityined.com. To register yourself, or your school or district for DIVERSITY in Ed’s October 28th Virtual Teacher Recruitment Fair, please visit https://diversityined.vfairs.com/ or contact 281-265-2473.
As organizations across the country continue to pivot during the pandemic, ADCOLOR opted to present its annual conference virtually last month complete with celebrity speakers, musical performances, multiple stages, interactive rooms, and an awards show.
According to a news release, over 100,000 people in 50 countries attended the three-day virtual experience from Sept. 8 – 10 titled ADCOLOR Everywhere, while 8,300 people signed up to become members of the online community. During the event, high-profile entertainers, executives, entrepreneurs, and change agents addressed the need for more inclusion in the ad and media industry. Speakers included actress and entrepreneur Gabrielle Union, gospel singer Yolanda Adams, African American Policy Forum Executive Director Kimberlé Crenshaw, Bishop T.D. Jakes, activist Tamika Mallory, and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer of the Recording Academy, Valeisha Butterfield Jones. Other speakers included “The Breakfast Club” radio show host Angela Yee and Color of Change president Rashad Robinson who moderated a one-on-one conversation with Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza.
ADCOLOR, which presents the industry’s largest diversity and inclusion conference, was created in 2005 to celebrate and champion professionals of color and diversity within creative industries. It was founded by advertising veteran Tiffany R. Warren, the Senior VP, Chief Diversity Officer for Omnicom Group.
“Our annual gathering is something attendees look forward to each year, and by going virtual, we decided to not only offer the same premier experience, but to maximize it for attendees and really push it to the next level,” said Warren in a press release. “In addition to our staple events, which include the ADCOLOR Conference and Award Show, we wanted to continue to offer additional perks, such as our after party and concert.”
The organization has panels to evolve ADCOLOR Everywhere into a digital community and a premier platform where people can share ideas, network and build online relationships, and launch products and concepts.
Editors’ Note: This article was updated on Oct. 9, 2020, to reflect that over 100,000 people tuned into the ADCOLOR Everywhere virtual conference and that 8,300 became members of the ADCOLOR Everywhere community.
Legal tech companies are finding that their diversity and inclusion programs are going strong despite an all remote workforce. But they still note that emails and Zoom calls can go only so far.
Last summer’s protests and conversations regarding race and equality caused some legal tech companies to reassess their own diversity goals and work culture. But while most of the legal tech industry is working remotely, many companies said their diversity and inclusion efforts were not negatively impacted by an empty office. Instead, they noted that a remote workforce has actually helped spark companywide dialogue regarding diversity and inclusion, and provided the flexibility to hire and retain employees with various backgrounds.
The most straightforward approach to improving diversity is to hire more diverse applicants. Pitchly CEO and co-founder Ryan Gerhardy, who noted his document generation software company has previously hired diverse staff, said that the entirely remote workforce provides even more opportunities to appeal to more potential applicants.
“We have made it more accessible for individuals that need that flexibility,” he said. “That’s a lesson we’ve learned, that we need to have a flexible schedule even if they are near an office they can work from home.”
Still, once diverse talent is employed by the company, they can quickly become a faceless name behind a corporate email address in a remote environment.
“I do think people can feel like an island,” said Consilio chief client experience officer and diversity and inclusion officer Amy Hinzmann. However, she said that companies are also looking to mitigate this problem by reengaging with their staff. “We’re looking to build an entirely new engagement model because I think some of us will stay remote longer term.” In 2019 Consillo launched various affinity groups, including a Black affinity group, to discuss and support all employees.
Some legal tech companies even noted that video conference platforms can play a significant part in fostering inclusion and maintaining collaboration.
Indeed, Esquire Deposition Solutions CEO Terrie Campbell argued the productivity of the company’s new “council of action” and steering committee for social justice was actually accelerated by the move to a remote environment.
“As companies became more decentralized and people were working from different offices etc., you lose sight of the person behind the job,” Campbell said. “What this remote situation has done, because a lot of people have landed into Zoom, you are seeing faces and it’s established the person behind the role.”
Still, Campbell noted the remote environment makes some hands-on diversity efforts challenging as COVID-19 infections continue. Programs such as ”community outreach and providing food or holiday gifts to families, [employees] may not be able to do that on their own,” Campbell said.
But despite some of the limitations of a remote workforce, Hinzmann recommended companies not wait until all their employees are back in the office to launch a diversity and inclusion program.
“From a diversity and inclusion perspective if you have a program and you believe in it, I believe it connects people and I think it’s a great time to act with intent,” she said. “I think more people are apt to speak up and raise his or her hand.”