Before I type a word more I need to make a disclaimer:
This is not a whiny post about reverse discrimination. I am as cognitively aware as I possibly can be of all the privileges bestowed upon me by virtue of my white skin. So why would I bother to point out the blatant lack of diversity within the field of diversity specialists?
Take a look through the LinkedIn profiles of the people with jobs in the Diversity and Inclusion field. What stands out? Perhaps a distinct difference from the less than 1% of black CEOs in Fortune 500 companies?
My point is not to ask that we change our practices to hire more white faces in the diversity field. Far from it. We need black voices and perspectives in this field. The entire role of diversity specialists is to help create opportunities for different perspectives to be heard and seen The problem with the over-representation of black professionals in a diversity positions is that this sends the message that “diversity and inclusion is a black person’s problem.” It removes the burden of learning and understanding and striving for equality from white shoulders.
This sends a very wrong message on two fronts.
- The promotion and celebration of diversity is not a task that should be delegated only to those who are minorities. The majority must recognize that creating a climate of equity requires work on their part as well.
- Perhaps it’s time we looked past diversity referring only to the color of a person’s skin. Let’s talk about age, gender, orientation, religion, country of origin, socioeconomic status, personalities…AND race.
I recognize that this post has the potential to be inflammatory. Racial bias is still a huge issue in our country and we are far from equitable practices in our culture.
The message I want to convey is for all to remember that diversity “issues” are not minority “issues.” The pursuit of diversity and inclusion is a task for us all to work towards. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, as always, in the comments.