luke visconti, diversityinc, women of color and their allies, allyship
DiversityInc Founder and Chairman Luke Visconti speaks during his "Being a White Male Ally" session at the 2019 Women of Color and Their Allies event on Oct. 2 in Atlanta.

Why Your CEO Should be an Antiracist

DiversityInc Founder and Chairman Luke Visconti embodies what it means to be an ally, and CEO Carolynn Johnson said it best in welcoming him to the stage for his session at the 2019 Women of Color and Their Allies event on Oct. 2 in Atlanta.

“There’s no better person to borrow from on this topic other than Luke Visconti,” Johnson said before Visconti’s “Being a White Male Ally” session.

Visconti joked about sleeping better and regaining his energy since turning over the role of CEO to Johnson in May before launching into his brief address.

“My business, from the very start in 1997, was born on the shoulders of Black women who supported me without hesitation,” he said.

Visconti credited his friend Tony Cato, a Black man who he served with in the Navy, for pointing out the injustices that he wasn’t seeing.

“When it finally sunk in and I realized that I was looking at a tiny fraction of what was there, I became an ally,” Visconti said.

He referenced a Washington Post article from Sept. 9 that highlighted how the surge of women of color, particularly Hispanic and African American women, entering the workforce has “helped push the U.S. workforce across a historic threshold.” Most new hires from ages 25 to 54 are people of color for the first time ever, according to the newspaper’s assessment of the Labor Department’s data dating back to 1970.

While people of color are making strides in the workplace, Visconti pointed out that the board of directors for major corporations still are about 80% men.

“How many times could you bring up beer in a job interview and get the job?” he asked.

“We are very, very good at nurturing white men,” Visconti said. But, he said, the onus is on white men to learn how to take care and be allies to people who are not white men.

Visconti referenced Ibram X. Kendi’s book How to Be an Antiracist, which examines how people can take an active role in building an antiracist society — one that is truly just and equitable.

“Your CEO should be antiracist,” he said. “Most of them aren’t.”

Visconti pointed to Pat Esser, the president of Cox Communications (No. 11 on The DiversityInc Top 50 list), as a leader who’s antiracist.

Visconti spoke about the stroke he had nearly five and a half years ago that he said “crippled me for life” because of “incompetent” care to remind the audience that life is short.

“You deserve better than most of you are getting right now,” he said. “There’s no reason for you in this environment, in this day and age, to be in a place that doesn’t appreciate your efforts.

While he was in the hospital, Visconti said he received a call from Reverend Jesse Jackson, expressing his concern.

“Don’t worry about me,” Visconti said he told Jackson. “I’ve got more Black women praying for me than any white man since Lyndon Johnson.”

Carolynn Johnson, who discussed how important it is for leaders to share their stories throughout the event, rejoined Visconti onstage after he finished his remarks and gave an emotional reflection.

“A lot of people don’t know Luke walked me down the aisle when I got married, when I got my MBA he actually handed me my degree,” Johnson said, holding back tears. “And my dad is in my life, and I love my dad, but you’re my dude, forever, always.”

Connect with Luke Visconti here.

Related Article: Luke Visconti, Panelists Share Best Practices at Congressional Hearing on Diversity in the Boardroom

Latest News

Boeing Elects Lynne Doughtie to Board of Directors, Following Resignation of Director Caroline Kennedy

Originally published on boeing.mediaroom.com. The Boeing Company (No. 27 on 2020 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) board of directors today announced that Lynne Doughtie has been elected to the board, replacing Caroline Kennedy who has resigned following three years of dedicated service. Doughtie, 58, retired from KPMG in 2020, after serving as U.S. Chairman and CEO…

Flint, Michigan water plant

Ex-Michigan Governor Charged for Racist Lead Poisoning of Flint Water Supply; COVID-19 Vaccines Not Increasing in Availability; Democrats Plan to Repeal Trump Rules; and More

Former Michigan Governor formally charged for poisoning thousands of predominantly Black Flint citizens with water containing lead. In 2014, when the city of Flint was forced by the state to begin taking its water supply from the Flint river rather than using water from nearby Detroit as it had for…

NYPD under suit

NYPD Sued for Years of Racial Abuse and Use of Excessive Force; Trump Administration Approves Discrimination Against LGBTQ individuals; and More

NYPD sued by Attorney General for years of racial abuse and use of excessive force. In what’s been called a “landmark lawsuit,” The New York Times has reported that New York state Attorney General Letitia James is suing the city of New York, the mayor and the NYPD’s leaders, alleging…

NBCUniversal News Group Launches NBCU Academy, Offering Training to Universities and Community Colleges

NBCUniversal News Group launched NBCU Academy, a new, innovative, multiplatform journalism training and development program for four-year university and community college students through education, on-campus training and online programming. Originally published on corporate.comcast.com. The initiative includes a curated onsite curriculum for hands-on learning experience with world-class NBCU News Group journalists,…

Kaiser

Kaiser Permanente: Committing $8.15M for Racial Equity

Originally published on about.kaiserpermanente.org. Grants to grassroots and nonprofit organizations will help address structural racism and practices that prevent communities of color from achieving good health and well-being. Kaiser Permanente (DiversityInc Hall of Fame), the nation’s largest integrated, nonprofit health system, has awarded $8.15 million to support dozens of nonprofit…

Toyota Research Institute and Stanford University’s Dynamic Design Lab Study How to Improve Automotive Safety

Originally published on pressroom.toyota.com. Inspired by the Skills of Professional Drift Drivers, Research Seeks to Combine the Technology of Vehicle Automation with Artificial Intelligence Algorithms What if every driver who ran into trouble had the instinctive reflexes of a professional race car driver and the calculated foresight of a supercomputer…

Tribal elder

Loss of Tribal Elders Due to COVID-19 Decimating Indigenous Populations; Colorado Revamps Common-Law Marriage Requirements, Making Them More Friendly for LGBTQ Couples; and More

Loss of tribal elders due to COVID-19 decimating Indigenous populations. The Muscogee, Navajo, Blackfeet Nation, White Mountain Apache and Choctaw tribes are among the many communities of Indigenous people suffering irreparable losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Times reporter Jack Healy has reported. Already impacted by infection rates…