Publish Your #!%$ing Diversity Numbers
A white man tells other white men that a feel-good #IWD2019 post isn’t good enough.
I’ve been trying for a week to write a proper introduction to this post. I’ve failed each time and I’m failing now. So, let’s just get on with it. I’m going to tell you all what I’ve been thinking about and what I’ve been reading/listening to—and then we’re just going to jump in.
- We put so much weight on underrepresented and underserved communities to try to fix the problems they didn’t create. That’s wrong and I want to make sure we stop doing it.
- How do we reconcile the outpouring of love during Black History Month and on International Women’s Day—with the fact that our workplaces are still consistently packed with implicit and explicit bias against minorities?
- How can I avoid male/white fragility?
- What’s the best way to talk to other privileged (male, white, professional, etc) people about what I think we can do to change things?
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism
- Americans Don’t Disagree About What Racism Is … White People Do
- White People Are Broken
- Stop telling women to fix sexist workplaces
- Battle Tactics For Your Sexist Workplace
- Why Is Fixing Sexism Women’s Work?
Did you read it all? Listen to it all? It’s not required but it won’t hurt. I think we’re ready now.
Here’s the takeaway: White men have created (and then contributed greatly, whether explicitly or implicitly) to broken systems rigged against the minority. So, if we’re going to make any substantive changes, then white men are going to have to be a part of the re-imagination of different, better, more inclusive systems. White men have to talk to other white men about what we should be doing to fix all the problems our privilege has inflicted on women, POC, LGBTQ+ and other communities.
I’m a white man.
I’m going to confront other white men about their hypocrisy. I’m going to do it right now.
Hello, white men—specifically, the white men at Divvy.
On March 8, 2019 (International Women’s Day), you (Divvy) posted this on LinkedIn:
Not bad. Out of curiosity, I visited your company page to see what Balance for Better meant—and how you were making a difference. I didn’t find much, just some standard self-promo content and a number of posts welcoming new hires… And that’s where things got a little weird. Follow along.
Before we get to the outrage, let’s take a deep breath. Perhaps you have launched a massive effort to recruit and retain more women and POC. Maybe you’re tackling agism and ableism and a bunch of other things we can’t see. And maybe your senior leadership team is remarkably diverse. But the fact that we can’t see those things—that we only see the picture you’re painting in the posts above—is a real problem.
And because you’re probably feeling a little defensive and ambushed, I’ll say this again: This is not about Divvy. It’s about every company, every agency, every start-up, every design studio, every media conglomerate, every VC firm, every holding company, and every organization that cares about the future. It’s about me. It’s about the agency where I used to work. It’s about whatever I end up doing in the next phase of my career.
It’s about how white men in positions of influence need to point out the flaws in the systems we’ve created and push for something better, more diverse, more inclusive, more equitable.
And here’s the easiest way to do it:
PUBLISH YOUR DIVERSITY NUMBERS.
I’m serious. Stop hiding behind feel-good posts about balance. Stop putting women and POC on panels where they’re expected to have all the answers. Instead, force your leadership team to be accountable for the make-up and diversity of their teams. Set goals and post your progress (or lack thereof) on a public platform.
Do your diversity numbers look bad enough that you’d be embarrassed to publish them? THAT’S THE POINT.
We did this at Struck. I had to compile the numbers and publish the report myself (see them here and here and here and here and here), even when things didn’t look good. I’m not overstating anything when I say that it made all the difference in our efforts to recruit, hire, pay, retain, support, and develop a more diverse workforce. We weren’t always successful. We made jumps forward and then stumbled backward. But knowing that I had to write an open letter to the world, complete with charts and numbers about the diversity of our board, our leadership, our creative teams—it made the work more urgent and more meaningful. There’s no hiding behind a hashtag when the numbers are on the page.
So. White men. I’m talking to you. If you founded a company or you’re running a company or you’re in charge of a department or you work in HR or you find yourself anywhere, enjoying the benefits of your privilege—use it to do something real.
If you posted a Happy Birthday message to RBG, publish your numbers.
If you dropped a Martin Luther King Jr quote for Black History Month, publish your numbers.
If you added a rainbow flag to your company profile for Pride Week, publish your numbers.
(WPP did it. You can do it.)
There are two positive outcomes from this behavior:
- We’ll get to see what success looks like. I believe that there are companies/agencies/start-ups that have moved the needle in significant ways. I want to see what they’ve done. I want to chase their gold standard. I want to know how much work I have left to do to match their progress.
- We’ll be shamed into action. This sucks, but I’ll take it… for now. If we look around and come face-to-face with how little progress we’ve made, then we won’t be able to lie to ourselves anymore. We won’t be able to consider tokenism as anything more than the lie and dishonor that it is. We’ll have to humble ourselves, expose our vulnerabilities and dig in to the hard work that lies ahead.
So, Divvy and the rest of you… please, just publish your diversity numbers.
Hi. I’m Matt Anderson — a creative director, agency leader, a writer, and an advocate for diversity/equity/inclusion. I used to be the CEO/ECD at Struck. I live, work, and eat in Portland, OR. If you’d like to hire me, let’s talk.