DiversityInc CEO Carolynn Johnson: Will the Trump Presidency Reality Show Be Renewed for Season Two?

The Chief Executive’s Latest Twitter War with Four Freshman Congresswomen Could Be the Catalyst for a Series Finale in November 2020.

This week, four Progressive first-term members of Congress, all women of color and collectively known as the “Squad,” were attacked and ridiculed in a series of tweets by President Donald Trump — CEO of the federal government.

Told to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came,” these four women — all of whom are Americans — stood before the world and courageously challenged their bully, who also happens to run the country, is the leader of the free world, and resides in what was once lovingly referred to as “The People’s White House” for all U.S. citizens.

As a Black woman and as a CEO, I have dedicated my life’s work to championing the benefits of diversity, inclusion, and equity in the workplace by measuring the practices and human capital outcomes of Fortune 500 companies. So when the President of the United States blatantly exhibits racism, sexism, and xenophobia — infractions that would absolutely result in the firing of a corporate CEO — it is worth noting.

After the President chose to defend his comments, denying any accountability of wrongdoing, in the midst of tragically disturbing images of Black and Brown youth herded in cages at the southern border, he has firmly and purposely planted his stake in white nationalism. His eagerness and willingness to erase communities of people of color from the fabric of this country — our country — threatens any progress we have made towards equality. We, the People, cannot allow this to happen, not on our watch. The White House is every American citizen’s house, and we want it back.

The CEO, as the head and leader, has a responsibility to act as a positive example for everyone who works with her or him. The CEO reflects how the organization or company is viewed, how others interface with them, who gets hired, who gets fired, who gets promoted. Trump, by his words and actions, threatens to erode our understanding of what it really means to be a chief executive officer.

This divisive behavior is the polar opposite of leaders of companies on the DiversityInc Top 50 list. At our annual Top 50 event earlier this Spring, there was a panel discussion focusing on moving women of color into senior leadership roles. One of the panelists was Karen Carter at Dow (No. 37).

It was a long time coming…

In April, after Dow became a spin-off of Dow-DuPont, the leadership team, helmed by CEO Jim Fitterling (who also spoke at this year’s event) there was reset.

The company currently has six women out of 17 officers on its leadership team with Carter, chief human resources officer and chief inclusion officer, as the company’s first Black female officer. Two of Dow’s seven business presidents are women, indicating a significant management change within the organization.

These are the actions of a CEO who understands and appreciates the value of women and people of color in the workplace because it leads to better outcomes. It’s the examples of CEOs like Fitterling that I choose to use as a template as I carve out my own leadership path at DiversityInc.

Last year, I created and launched our first annual Women of Color and Their Allies event. Executives from across the country benefitted from candid discussions about the challenges women of color face in corporate America.

Now, more than ever, these conversations are needed to counter the racial vilification and exclusion we are witnessing at the highest levels of our government. A press conference on Monday with Representatives Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib, and Pressley was an important step towards having this very necessary conversation amongst the country right now.

Of the 127 women members of Congress, approximately 37% are women of color. Trump’s rhetoric disrespects lawmakers who get up each day to work to improve our country. The House voted on Tuesday to formally admonish Trump, approving a resolution condemning his tweets as “racist.”

However, the vote that will count the most takes place in November 2020. It’s critical that Black and Brown American citizens and our allies remember that no matter what the current occupant of the White House says or does, we have a voice. Our votes matter. We matter.  Only then will the Trump presidency reality show we’ve all been living be permanently canceled.


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