Kamala Harris
Joe Biden had a drawn-out process to pick his running mate for vice president, Sen. Kamala Harris. There are excellent lessons to be learned for corporate America. (Photo by: Shutterstock/Rich Koele)

Lessons to be Learned From Kamala Harris

Joe Biden had a drawn-out process to pick his running mate for vice president, Sen. Kamala Harris. There are excellent lessons to be learned for corporate America:

1. Joe Biden identified his problem: He has to have the engaged support of his base, especially the Black community and women, to win in November.

Hillary Clinton lost 2016 for two reasons: She needed 25,000 more Black votes from Philadelphia, Detroit, and Milwaukee, and the Democratic electorate was not excited. Ten percent fewer Democrats voted in 2016 compared with 2012, 7% didn’t bother to vote, and 3% voted for a third-party candidate.

Luke Visconti
DiversityInc Chairman         Luke Visconti

In response to these issues, Biden promised to select a woman as a running mate. In light of current events, the Democratic base made it clear that a woman of color was preferable. Sen. Harris would be totally qualified if she were a white man. Who she is makes her a superb choice.

If you are thinking, ‘It is unfair that only a woman was considered,” think again. For almost 250 years, only white men were considered for the presidency and vice presidency (with three exceptions among the major parties). Look where we are today: 4.3% of the world’s population and 23% of COVID-19 deaths.

Our president recently said that the 1918 flu pandemic ended World War II. This man controls thousands of nuclear weapons. The average S&P 500 company lasts 20 years, and almost every CEO is a white man. Surely this powerful and wealthy country can do better than this.

2. Joe Biden had a solid group of female Democrats to choose from. We’ve been through almost four years of a government run by almost 100% white male leadership.

According to Pew, 33% of the electorate is not white and “among registered voters, 56% of women identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party compared with 42% of men.“ Countering with running Kanye West on swing-state ballots and m ore “What do you have to lose?” comments isn’t effective—it’s pandering in light of 60% of all Americans supporting BLM (a huge swing since the murder of George Floyd).

Related: Sen. Kamala Harris Confronts Joe Biden Over Civil Rights Record

Most corporations have a leadership team that demographically looks like the Republican Party. This fact has not prevented many companies from making cringe inducing statements or otherwise rushing into the “diversity” space, with expected poor results.

One large corporation had a recruiting firm reach out to me to talk about their chief diversity officer vacancy. All of the people I know were uninterested because the company has never been serious about the subject. Of the 12 people pictured on their leadership page, four are women (with only two of them in line functions), and only two of the twelve are not white. Zero are apparently Latinx. Their headquarters is in a very white suburb. Yet, this company’s customer base over-indexes with Black and Latino consumers. Why would anyone serious about diversity want to work there? To “change things” in 2020? In my opinion, they don’t print enough money to take on that job.

Several “brand name” consulting companies are rushing into the need for corporate information on the subject. One rather vocal example has been vociferously giving diversity advice— but if you look at their corporate leadership, they have exactly one Black person out of 76 people on their leadership page. (And he is not in the US). Of the nine most senior leaders, there is only one woman and none are non-majority. Taking diversity advice from this company is like learning to cook from someone who has never been near a stove.

Related: The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity

Another politics-to-corporate analogy is criticism. Some Republicans and right-wing media are commenting about Sen. Harris‘s “blackness.” A 99% white-male political party making comments about this is like making observations on butterfly migration from Mars. People in the Black community will decide what they think without regard of whitemansplanations.

Finally, Barack Obama forgave Joe Biden’s “articulate and clean” comment, and they made a good team—to the benefit of our country. In turn, Joe Biden has forgiven Kamala Harris’s harsh criticism during the primary campaign. I think they’ll both benefit from the experience. If they’re successful in November, we all will.

In both cases, the aggrieved party allowed the other person’s total body of work to speak for itself. If you don’t have a “total body of work“ when it comes to diversity, no time like the present to get to work, but it’s foolish to mistake white privilege for experience.

Latest News

Biden Stands by His Commitment to LGBTQ rights; Cost of Racism in the U.S. Tops $16 Trillion; Black and Latinx Continue to Die from COVID-19 at Nearly Twice the Rate of Whites; and More

Biden reaffirms commitment to LGBTQ rights; promises to pass Equality Act. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden doubled down on his promises to the LGBTQ community while speaking at a presidential town hall for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation on Sept. 24. “You deserve a partner in the White House to…

degeneres, work, show

Leadership Lessons to be Gleaned from Ellen DeGeneres’ Toxic Workplace Scandal

Ellen DeGeneres began her daytime talk show’s 18th season with an apology after a summer of allegations against her that claimed her show promoted a toxic work environment rife with racism, sexual misconduct and other mistreatment. In August 2020, three senior producers — executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman…

COVID entrepreneur

Explosive New Growth in Small Businesses Due to COVID-19; America’s Police Force is Not Becoming More Diverse Despite BLM Movement; the Best and Worst Performing States in the 2020 Census; and More

Even with incredible nationwide unemployment rates, the creation of new small and diverse businesses has exploded due to COVID-19. Finally some news coming out of our pandemic: The Philadelphia Tribune reports that as bars and restaurants closed and stay-at-home orders were put into place earlier in 2020 to help fight…

Justice for Breonna not served; The essential rule of politics; Teen serves two months in jail for not doing homework; and More

Justice for Breonna not served as grand jury indicted officer who shot her with wanton endangerment — but not murder. “Outrageous and offensive.” Those were  by attorney to the family, Ben Crump to describe the grand jury’s decision in the March 13 fatal police shooting of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor. While…

IBM, EEOC, age

EEOC Unearths Years of Intentional Age Discrimination within IBM

After a long investigation, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has revealed that IBM leaders had directed managers to replace older workers with younger ones. Between 2013 and 2018, nearly 86% of those considered for layoffs within the organization were older employees over the age of 40. The investigation showed…

Breathe March in Globe Park, New York, USA - 12 Sep 2020

Cities under attack from the Justice Department; Louisville bracing for the Breonna Taylor murder charge; Twitter reveals its racist side; and More

Justice department attacks three U.S. cities, declaring them anarchist zones — despite most of the protests that took place in each city being peaceful marches in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. In a move designed to pull federal funding from New York City, Seattle and Portland, OR, the…

ginsburg, supreme, court

The Lasting Legacy of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — Plus the Four Biggest Issues Currently at Stake Following Her Death

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who served on the nation’s highest court for 27 years, passed away Friday, Sept. 18 at the age 87. “As the second woman ever to sit on the highest court in the land, she was a warrior for gender equality — someone who believed…