The WSJ Gets It Wrong: White Men Don't Legitimize Diversity

The Wall Street Journal wrote that "having a white male in charge of diversity efforts lends legitimacy to the effort and brings other white males on board." One reader asks the White Guy if he agrees. Read his answer here.

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 interested in your thoughts about the following article provided to me by a colleague: "Diversity Programs Look To Involve White Males As Leaders"

"Diversity programs abound at companies across the country, but something new is happening in an effort to get the programs off the sidelines and into the mainstream. More and more companies are turning to white men to champion diversity efforts. Having a white male in charge of diversity efforts lends legitimacy to the effort and brings other white males on board. It is also helpful if the white male in charge is from operations rather than human resources. PricewaterhouseCoopers, Georgia Power and Coca-Cola are three companies that have enlisted white males to manage their diversity efforts." (The Wall Street Journal, 07-May-2007, Central ed., p. B4)

Answer:

I don't think that "more and more companies are turning to white men to champion diversity efforts" nor do I think that a "white male in charge lends legitimacy to the effort."

Pasting a white male head on a program that isn't respected doesn't change anything. In my opinion, a company cannot "lend legitimacy" to a diversity-management effort unless there is strong, visible, consistent and heart-felt support from the CEO—along with the CEO holding his/her people accountable and having formalized communication channels, metrics and personal involvement.

Our DiversityInc Top 50 Stock Index documents that diversity management has business legitimacy that transcends human resources as well as the race/culture/gender/orientation/disability or age of the executive leading the program. Over the past three years, we've seen an increasing trend toward diversity management being considered a line-management position. However, an organizational-development background is logical for any diversity executive, and we see many very effective diversity executives who report to the senior HR executive.

I'm glad The Wall Street Journal reporter didn't go as far as to say that Steve or Frank (the long-term white CDOs of and Georgia Power and Coca-Cola) are "articulate" and "clean," although that would have nudged this article from poorly conceived to comedic.

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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