Luke Visconti is the founder and CEO of DiversityInc. Although the title of his column is meant to be humorous, the issues he addresses and the answers he gives to questions are serious — and based on his 17 years of experience publishing DiversityInc. Click here to send your own question to Luke.
It’s a tricky time for corporations. President Trump won the Electoral College election by roughly 77,000 votes scattered across three states (less than 1 percent of the vote in each of those states). His core demographic is not one that most consumer product goods companies see as attractive — older, less educated, whiter and more male than average, less affluent. It is certainly not reflective of new entrants to the workforce. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3,000,000 people — and the Electoral College gap between her and the president was exceeded almost three-fold by the number of young people voting for third-party candidates.
After viciously and repetitively insulting women, Mexicans, people with disabilities, POWs and Muslims (often with fake facts), is it any wonder why he has the lowest approval rating of any incoming president ever in the history of the United States?
So, if your CEO is called to the White House or the H1B-staffed Mar-a-Lago, what should s/he do?
He is our president, and it is leadership’s responsibility to provide advice when asked.
“Provide advice,” however doesn’t include pandering.
CEOs need to keep in mind who their stakeholders are – and stay true to the organization’s morals and ethics. Every company on our Top 50 list is superior in talent management because they are unequivocal in their facilitating the success of women, Black, Latino, Asian (and other ethnic and racial minorities), the LGBT community, people with disabilities, Muslims and other religious minorities. Our Top 50 list, expressed as a stock index, outperforms the rest of the stock market.
This is a remarkable difference between the president’s stated values — and his appointments to his Cabinet, which are spectacularly white and male.
Our nation’s workforce situation is dire — we have gone from six workers per retiree after WW2, to two workers per retiree by 2025. We are at full employment. New entrants to the workforce are 100,000 short of job creations each month. Baby boomers are retiring in droves and are not being replaced in the same numbers by young people. Significant growth for our economy without immigrants is going to be very difficult — there aren’t enough people to fill the jobs being created.
CEOs on our list need to tell the president how they have been successful — embracing people formerly not embraced into the workforce, and making sure they had the corporate knowledge to succeed.
It’s been done before — two CEOs from Indiana companies on our Top 50 list went to (then) Governor Pence’s office to tell him that his anti-gay bill was going to make it impossible to recruit the best people to their companies. Their influence, plus public pressure, caused Pence to back off his virulent homophobia.