Conversations about diversity and inclusion are ubiquitous today and they touch every sector, at every level. There is no question minorities have faced huge struggles to survive and thrive in a world that has kept power out of their reach. They have suffered a level of persecution that is hard for many of us to understand. But the Covid-19 pandemic has served as a catalyst to lay bare worldwide inequities, and the brutal killing of George Floyd has brought into focus the depth of racism against minorities that still exists.
But what struck us about the commitment people now make to address greater diversity is the lack of progress made by these very same people to include more women in their ranks. It leaves women – of every colour – still fighting the good fight 50 years after the first march to shine a light on women’s equality.
Appallingly, there are only 4 black male CEOs among fortune 500 companies (0 black female CEOs) clearly much work needs to be done to address this appalling lack of representation. At the same time, there are only 37 female CEOs even though women represent 50% of the population – that is also pretty appalling.
The conversations about diversity and inclusivity must include women. But it can no longer be just a conversation – there has to be action. Let’s start by making room for greater diversity on boards, in executive management, in senior management, in the rank and file for women as well as minorities – because there are more than enough qualified candidates amongst them, despite what corporations would have us believe.
Minority groups have often shown that their resumes are ignored simply because of a “black” or foreign sounding name. When it comes to women, although they have made up the majority of university graduates for years, represent half of all lawyers, accountants, and doctors, are even creeping up in technology and engineering, they still can’t make it to the top ranks of industry after industry.
Change is never easy – we know that getting minorities and women into the ranks is tough. But…and this is a big “but”, it will be up to those in power – the predominantly white male board members and presidents of companies – to champion the needed change. Notably some have already risen to the challenge while others cry foul – and we must call those out.
It is important that when we talk about diversity and inclusion, we must continue to hold organizations – big and small – to the highest standards. No more excuses! It is essential that, in the bigger picture, all men and all women, black or brown must be considered as viable candidates and every effort must be made to transform those who run organizations into a more diverse group – to better represent the customers they serve.
So here is what corporations can do right now – they can start by making room at the table for different points of view. The next time a position becomes available put preconceived prejudices aside, make a point of looking for and hiring a woman or a black / brown person.
On a personal level – what can you do? Angela Davis, a black activist said, “it is not enough not to be racist, you must be anti-racists”. We believe she would agree with us that her saying applies to women. Don’t just say, “I’m not against more women in management; do everything in your power to actively include women in your organization and in your practice.”