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Diversity Without Power Is Still Not Enough

I recently penned an article for Jet magazine in response to a photo posted by the Huffington Post. Below is the article in its entirety as well as the link: Diversity Without Power Is Still Not Enough by M. Michelle Derosier for Jet magazine.

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If you’re a professional and a person of color in America, chances are you’ve been part of at least one meeting, a team or a department where yours was one of (if not) the only [insert race or culture] face in the crowd.

Yet, the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education reports, “In the U.S., the white portion of the working-age population (generally ages 25 to 64) is declining, while the minority portion is increasing.”

While we’d like to think that our personal experience is the exception and not the rule, the picture below tweeted recently by Liz Heron, Executive Editor at the Huffington Post, seems to spit in the face of this statistic.

HuffPost Editors Meeting Twitter Photo M Michelle Derosier

To answer Ms. Heron’s question, we notice much about this editors meeting. While we give kudos to the solid representation of women, we’re disturbed by the poor representation of people of color.

Even more disconcerting is the fact that in this room sits many who decide which stories are worth sharing and whose voices will tell them. In an organization that draws in more than 200 million unique visitors a month; she who controls whose story is told, shapes reader perception. For those who are saying that this group of women aren’t execs or CEOs and don’t move the financial needle of the company, remember that power can be just as much about who controls the narrative as about who controls the purse strings.

And that is at the heart of my issue with this photo. It’s such a vivid reminder that those climbing fastest or currently highest on the power pyramid – the key decision makers – rarely look anything like the changing American landscape. In 2014, nonwhites accounted for 38 percent of the U.S. population, but those who hold the power to shape multimillion dollar companies are barely a blip on the radar.

An article posted, ironically, on the Huffing Post found just over 4 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs in 2014 were minorities, a classification including African-Americans, Asians, and Latin-Americans.

To underscore the significance of the power of those in control of the finances as an example, according to Fortune magazine: “In total, the Fortune 500 companies account for $12.5 trillion in revenues, $945 billion in profits, $17 trillion in market value and employ 26.8 million people worldwide.”

Whether 100, 250, or 500 – whatever the Fortune ranking of companies of total revenues for their respective fiscal year – minority representation in key leadership roles is practically nonexistent.

With so few minorities governing the path of these companies, our collective power to see real change that will elevate the social economic status of the masses and not just the few, is significantly diminished.

While we should celebrate–loudly–the people of color who make it into the door; we should never be satisfied with diversity in just the cubicles. We need equal representation at the decision tables. We can start with one voice, then push for two, and continue for three. However, may we never stop until companies such as the Huffington Post are tweeting photos that represent a racially and culturally diverse group of decision makers.

 

 

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If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you!

When was the last time you attempted something that hurled you from your comfort zone? How about something that shoved you out of your safe and comfortable bubble? Or maybe something that gave you a slight nudge out of your big-fish-small-pond reality?

If it took you longer to answer these questions than it does for Kanye to have a meltdown, it’s probably time for a new challenge.

Here are 3 Growth-Encouraging Challenges for your consideration.

1. Learn a new skill. I kicked off 2015 and continued into 2016 not with a resolution, but with the goal of undertaking a project that would squeeze every last drop of brain power not sucked dry by the education system. Learning to code is most certainly living up to this goal. HTML, CSS, JavaScript, JQuery. I’m just getting started, but it already feels like I’ve gone a couple of rounds with a Lifetime TV Child Genius.

Maybe your challenge is not a new programming language. Maybe it’s a traditional language. Bonjour! Buenos dias! Guten Tag! Perhaps it’s learning to cook. Mayhap it’s learning to budget. Or maybe to knit. Or to become a more powerful public speaker. Whatever the skill, find something that you’re not traditionally “good at” and learn it. Because time is a precious resource and we can’t always afford to learn for the sake of learning, invest the effort, time, and possibly money in a skill that aligns with one or more of your long-term goals.

mmderosier edit this code

2. Take a trip. In 2011 a group of friends and I went on a whirlwind five-city tour that culminated in Cairo, Egypt. To refresh your memory, 2011 in Egypt was a year of civil unrest that toppled the 30-year reign of President Mubarak. I can’t say it was the most stress-free time to visit the country. We went through a metal detector before we could enter our hotel. When I jokingly asked what it was we were being screened for, the officer succinctly answered, “bombs”. Insert big, fearful eyes.

I’m not suggesting that you pack up and head to the nearest country facing political instability, but just go beyond Montreal or Cancun. Not that there’s anything wrong with either place. What I’m saying instead is to find your Egypt – someplace that readjusts your world view and leaves you with a new understanding of the things you take for granted. If Montreal is your Egypt, great, go! But if Montreal is your “they know me and I know them” default location, throw a dart on a map and land somewhere else.

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3. Share yourself with others. When I clicked submit and officially entered the 2013 So You Think You Can Write Harlequin contest, my heart dropped to my stomach. I had yanked the door wide open for others to see my heart. To criticize. To judge. I took my writing – something that’s always been very personal to me and closely guarded – and shared it with an audience. But I needed that experience to give me the courage to work towards becoming a published author. Something that hasn’t happened yet, but now there’s no turning back from.

What are you fearful of sharing? Are you the soul-touching singer refusing to share your voice with an audience? Or the brilliant painter passing on the opportunity to display his work? Whatever the reason for your hesitation, why not make today the day to overcome it?

mmderosier reader feedback

mmderosier Reina and Eli

Remember that if doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.

So, what challenge will change you this year? What challenges have changed you in the past? How can you apply lessons from the past to grow this year?

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