Should I Quit? My Boss Wants to Exclude Blacks From Ads

If the president of your company told you not to include African Americans in advertising, would you quit? Here's what the White Guy advises.

Luke Visconti's Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.


Question:

I am an ad exec. Recently, at a company meeting of 12 employees, the president told the staff not to include African Americans in the advertising. He said that the client (Fortune global 50 company) did not like them.

Is this wrong? Is there anything I can do without endangering my family and its finances?

Answer:

Yes, it's wrong, not only morally but in the best interests of your other customers, your fellow employees and your shareholders. The evidence I see is that companies with superior ethics and integrity are more competitive and sustainable over the long term. My favorite example of ethics in practice is Johnson & Johnson (No. 17 on The 2007 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list), which publishes its "credo" on just about every flat surface, including in stone in its corporate-headquarters entrance, and runs the company that way.

On an amoral and pragmatic basis, my answer is the same. Not only is a bigot likely to make other bad business decisions, with 12 witnesses and today's technology, you cannot expect this kind of thing to stay out of the public's view.

Since the lack of diversity in your industry recently was the focus of a special commission set up by the city of New York, feeding into bigotry would be yet another reason for other clients to cut your fees as they are paying you for judgment (which your firm's leadership clearly does not have).

As far as your personal choices, my feeling is that you must find another job. Let's face it: This is the bone-headed decision you know about. What else is going on behind closed doors? It wouldn't be a "career-enhancing move" to be named in Ad Age as part of the team that went along with this. Who would hire you for a responsible position with that on your résumé? Even a bigot with a modicum of self-preservation would hesitate.

If this situation becomes public after you leave, you'll be recognized as a person with superior judgment.

Good luck, and use our career center.

Two Different Cups of Joe: How The Coffee Bean and Starbucks Handled Racism

In an age of increasing racial confrontations, a business must have zero tolerance for discrimination.

In the Trump era, there has been a proliferation of Islamophobic and racist incidents across the country. When discrimination occurs at a place of business, it's apparent if the company's leadership and workforce support diversity and inclusion. A Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf café barista refused to serve a racist customer; meanwhile, a white manager at a Starbucks called the police on two Black men for no reason.

Read More Show Less

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Executives from Nielsen, New York Life, TIAA and Toyota Motor North America talk about communicating their commitment to D&I management and backing it up with actions that get results.

At the 2018 DiversityInc Top 50 event, more than 400 people were in attendance during the day to hear best practices on effectively managing diversity and inclusion.

Moderator: Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

Panelists:

  • Angela Talton, Chief Diversity Officer, Nielsen
  • Kathleen Navarro, VP & Chief Diversity Officer, New York Life
  • Steve Larson, Senior Director of Diversity & Inclusion, TIAA
  • Adrienne Trimble, General Manager, Diversity & Inclusion, Toyota Motor North America

We White People Need to Own This

Martin Luther King has been dead for 50 years and Donald Trump is our president. Who is responsible?

REUTERS

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 18 years of experience publishing DiversityInc. Click here to send your own question to Luke.

We will be deluged by Martin Luther King articles and columns today. Some will be excellent, like the one Rev. Jesse Jackson wrote. But most will be saccharine sweet and not say what needs to be said.

Read More Show Less

Lisa Garcia Quiroz, Time Warner's First Chief Diversity Officer, Creator of People en Español, Dies at 56

Quiroz was an advocate of diversity and inclusion, education and the arts.

A Latina trailblazer, Lisa Garcia Quiroz, senior vice president and chief diversity officer at Time Warner Inc., and president of the Time Warner Foundation, died Friday at age 56 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. An advocate of diversity and inclusion, education and the arts, Quiroz created a dynamic legacy.

Read More Show Less

The Chief of Staff Needs to Get Off His Privileged Racist Ass and Do Some Homework

And his draft-dodging boss needs to put his juvenile visions of military dictatorship out of his head.

REUTERS

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 18 years of experience publishing DiversityInc. Click here to send your own question to Luke.

Read More Show Less