Why So Many Organizations Stay White

WHY SO MANY ORGANIZATIONS STAY WHITE

Organizations are not race neutral. Scholars, managers, journalists, and many others routinely recognize “black capitalism,” “black banks,” and “ethnic restaurants,” yet we think of banks that are run by and serve whites simply as “banks” and white corporations simply as “businesses.”
This way of thinking reinforces the fallacy that only people of color have race, and obscures the broad, everyday dynamics of white racial power within organizations. Hiring for elusive notions of “fit,” locating operations in largely white communities, mandating dress and grooming rules rooted in European beauty standards, and expecting non-white employees to code-switch can all subtly disadvantage non-white employees. By leaving white organizations racially unmarked, it becomes difficult to explain why several decades of antidiscrimination and diversity policies ostensibly aimed at equalizing opportunity have done little to alter the overall distribution of organizational power and resources. Such organizational policies, while sometimes helpful in increasing minority representation, fail to address the racial hierarchies historically built into American organizations. Rather than asking how to bring diversity into the workplace, a better question is why so much power and organizational authority remain in white hands.

I argue that the idea of the race-neutral organization has done a great disservice to our understanding of race relations in the workplace, allowing scholars and practitioners to see racial exclusion as unfortunate aberrations or slight deviations from otherwise color-blind ideals. In reality (and even though we typically do not say this out loud), many mainstream American organizations have profited from and reinforced white dominance. Many still do. Understanding this context is vital to seeing organizations for what they really are: not meritocracies, but long-standing social structures built and managed to prioritize whiteness. Only then can leaders begin thinking differently about race — not as a temporary problem to solve or a box to check, but as a fundamental part of what it means to be a company in America. Only then can they have a better understanding of why their diversity efforts do so little to attract, retain, and promote people of color — and what they need to do to change that.

JUST HOW WHITE ARE ORGANIZATIONS?

The simplest way to think about organizational whiteness is through statistics. For example, black representation at the top of organizational hierarchies, as measured through CEOs in Fortune 500 companies, has decreased from six CEOs in 2012 to three today. Steady declines in minority representation at the helm of these businesses since their peak in the early and mid-2000s have led some scholars to claim that the “heyday” of dedicated diversity efforts has ended. University presidents remain mostly white (and male) despite rapidly diversifying student demographics, and academic hierarchies remain deeply stratified by race, with black men and women, respectively, making up just 2% of full-time professors above the rank of assistant. Black gains among public-sector employees — the economic sector responsible for much of the growth of the black middle class following the reforms of the civil rights era — have begun to disappear since the adoption of private-sector policies that have increased managerial discretion and loosened worker protections. A recent meta-analysis of field experiments — the gold standard for detecting discrimination, because other potentially explanatory factors are accounted for — shows that high levels of hiring discrimination against black men have remained relatively constant since the late 1980s, and discrimination against Latinos has decreased little. And despite some progress diversifying within individual firms, between-firm segregation has increased over the past 40 years and Fortune 500 boards remain 83.9% white.

Full Article and Source: Why So Many Organizations Stay White  

HBR

Has Civil Rights Activism Been Replaced by Endless Panels? Φ Crew of 42

Has Civil Rights Activism Been Replaced by Endless Panels?

Posted On 09 Apr 2014
  Ask yourself: Have you ever seen a photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sitting on a panel? On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act we should ask ourselves: Has activism been replaced by “paneling” and hot air?

At every annual convention.  At every luncheon.  At every conference. There is the panel discussion as the centerpiece of the “agenda.”  And for the most part, these sessions repeat already known information and no calls to action.

Where the centerpiece of the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s was results based physical activities such as marches, boycotts and civil disobedience, the centerpiece now appears to be lots and lots of talking.

The activities of five decades ago yielded big results — like the Civil Rights Act — few of those big results and political victories can be seen today. And the problems, for the African American community in particular, are getting larger. 

Can panels create change and get results at a time when the wealth gap between black and white is the worst in 40 years and the dropout and incarceration rates remain at crisis levels?  Can marches get the same results they did in the 1960s as a more money and tech driven political landscape drives agendas?

Were it not for Rev. William Barber’s Moral Mondays there would be no consistent activism at all.  But even with those events one has to ask: Are the marches yielding tangible results?  It’s likely Dr. King didn’t have time for panels.  The actions Dr. King took got results and won victories.  Like the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Lauren Victoria Burke is the creator of the blog Crewof42 and is the Managing Editor of Politic365.com. Ms. Burke has enjoyed employment with USAToday.com and ABC News and holds a B.A. in History from The American University. Contact: LBurke007@gmail.com. Twitter: @Crewof42

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