The Future of Diversity Debate: Education & Economic Status

A reader questions whether focusing on education and socioeconomic status will lead to a greater diversity debate. The White Guy responds with hopeful promise.

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:

Do you believe that a focus on socioeconomic status and level of education will get greater attention and debate from the diversity community in the future?

Answer:

I hope so.

Realistically, race/gender and socioeconomic status in the United States are directly linked because of hundreds of years of legal discrimination. Aside from the inability for Black people to amass wealth during legalized slavery and Jim Crow, legal barriers to voting, education and capital only fell in 1964, 1965 and 1977 (Civil Rights, Voting Rights and Community Reinvestment acts, respectively).

Simply by analyzing wealth, income and education of our constituent communities, we can see that Blacks, for example, have not achieved equity--specifically due to race. However, it is an increasingly complex picture because of the rising middle class of Blacks and their exceptional educational achievements.

The situation for American Indian-, Latino- and women-headed households has also become more complex. For example, our DiversityInc Top 50 statistics show that Asian Americans are still underrepresented in middle and top management, yet it is difficult to paint a stereotypical economic portrait of Asian Americans because of the changing Asian socioeconomic demographics created by the repeal of the Chinese Exclusionary Act (1943) and the end of non-white immigration quotas in the mid-1960s.

This is why I think the focus in the future should be on socioeconomic and education status--with an adjudicating eye toward ensuring equity across race and gender.

If the outcome is equity, then the entire way we look at problems changes. Instead of incremental changes in education, for example, we would make sweeping changes.

By the "diversity community," I'll assume you're referring to corporate America. I think that the practices that prove beneficial to society are also good for corporate America, because the underpinning issues are the same: human and civil rights.

How this plays out in the workplace is direct and clear. For example, your mentoring programs should be for all employees, not just Black and women employees (a common mistake). Your most talented employee might just be a white, heterosexual man, with no ADA-defined disabilities who grew up in a poor neighborhood and had parents who were not corporate. Without mentoring, that man may never reach his potential.

Jury Awards $28M to Haitian-American Nurse Who Stood Up for Coworker

Brigham and Women's Hospital retaliated against a nurse for defending a coworker amid alleged verbal abuse.

Gessy Toussaint — who shares the name of the best-known leader of the Haitian Revolution, Toussaint L'Ouverture — also believes in fighting against the odds and winning.

A Suffolk Superior Court jury ruled on Wednesday that Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass., retaliated against Toussaint, a Haitian-American nurse who stood up for a colleague, and has awarded her $28 million. Deliberation took more than three days.

Read More Show Less

Trump's Minion Betsy DeVos Gives Green Light for Schools to Blow Whistle on Immigrants

Ignorance ignores federal law protecting DACA kids; pushes deportation over education.

REUTERS

There is no sanctuary for children in President Donald Trump's racist world, and now schools can be a tool for deporting children and parents.

Read More Show Less
REUTERS

Twenty-one white people (including seven male board members and CEO Steve Simon) of a total of 22 people in the World Tennis Association's (WTA) management made the call to boot Serena Williams from seeding for the French Open for having a baby.

Read More Show Less

Teacher Tells Black Student: When You Turn 16, Police Will Shoot You

Malachi Pearson's family had been affected by gun violence in a state more likely to kill Black people unjustly than most.

Malachi Pearson / Screen shot from Fox 4KC News vodeo.

A recent study by Washington University in St. Louis found that Blacks across the country are more likely to have been unarmed when killed by police than any other group of people. This includes incidents where police have killed unarmed Black boys before the age of 16, such as Tamir Rice at age 12.

Read More Show Less

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

Maxine Waters Attacked in Congress as she Sought to Protect People from Predators in the Auto Loan Industry

Racist smears and whitesplaining from "men." What's behind the vitriol? If racism is ignored by victims, does it go away?

On Friday, Reps. Mike Kelly and Maxine Waters debated over the House voting to roll back a Consumer Financial Protections Bureau rule meant to limit discrimination in distributing auto loans. Studies have shown Blacks and Latinos have systemically been charged a higher markup on auto loans than white borrowers, and class action lawsuits were brought against auto lenders as a result. Waters advocated for another look at how this vote would impact auto loan practices with people of color. But those on the right insist talk of discrimination is steering away from the country being unified.

Read More Show Less

Misogyny and Racism Have Catapulted Women in the polls for House Seats

Voters speak: We want more than just white men in office.

FACEBOOK

A record number of women are running for U.S. House of Representatives seats, along with women running at every level of public office. And they're winning.

Read More Show Less