The Need for Diversity Experts in a Post-Racial America

A job description for a position soliciting a diversity and inclusion manager read, “…manager will use expertise and knowledge of best practices in this area to effectively design, develop, and implement initiatives to improve the diversity of the workforce and promote an inclusive culture for all employees.”  The more I read the job description, I wondered if I was puzzled, troubled, or just at a loss of words for my emotions.

I asked myself a myriad of questions. First, if we, according to some media outlets and some of the information that I have been reading as of late, are living in a post-racial America, why do we need diversity and inclusion managers, directors, specialists, and such?  Then the question I posed to myself (yes, I have to figure this thing out) was, what exactly is a post-racial America?  I mean, being a fairly intelligent person, I deduced that since post means after, then the logical definition of post-racial America means that these United States have moved beyond racism to the place where we can all live together in harmony now that the racism is over.

Then, a flood of incidents began to rush my mind that would contradict the concept of a post-racial America. You don’t have to look far before you run into the controversy that is surrounding a beloved breakfast cereal and the backlash that has resulted from the advertising executives at the company deciding that a White mother, African-American father, and a biracial child would be okay in a televised commercial.  The bigoted responses that ensued caused the company to disable the comments section of their web site.  Yet, some people found the whole incident a source of disbelief in this post-racial America. So, as I continued to sift through this thing in my head, I am quite convinced that life in these United States, in my opinion, is far from post-racial.

So, that being the case, maybe there is a need for companies to solicit the support from subject matter experts that would hold the titles of diversity and inclusion managers. But, wouldn’t you believe it, I had more questions—the who, the what, the when, the why.

I guess it is safe to say that I know the when.  Due to the fact that we are further from a post-racial America than some would like to believe, the time is now.

Also, the very fact that we are further from a post-racial America than some would like to admit covers the why.

So, the next questions that I sought to answer in my mind are “the who” and “the what.”  Who is really qualified with “the expertise and the knowledge of best practices” to bring everybody together?  What exactly are the best practices to bring everybody together?  Where did this person obtain his or her knowledge and expertise to bring everybody together?  In other words, what makes this person the authority?  What measures will any company use to know that they have arrived at the place where everyone feels accepted, included, and respected as vital contributor to a company?  And, one of my last questions (it’s a biggie), why do companies want a diversity and inclusion manager anyway?

You might be thinking that the answer to the last question is obvious.  I thought so to, until I came to the end of a book that I was reading, “How To Be Black” by Baratunde Thurston. In the book, a question was posed that I interpreted as:  do some people, such as companies that are soliciting diversity and inclusion managers, really want to have an understanding of racism so racism can be overcome, or, do these entities want the love of the public (to be deemed politically correct), so they “act” like understanding and acceptance is what they really want?

As I read the words on the page, I had an epiphany.  As important as the answers are to these questions, I don’t have them.  However, I still strive all the more earnestly to make that which is theoretical a reality.  Maybe, in my lifetime, there might just be a post-racial America.

2 thoughts on “The Need for Diversity Experts in a Post-Racial America

  1. Cheryl,
    I am moved by your article and felt the need to post in support of your observations!

    You are spot on; we have not “arrived” in post-racial America and we do have to earnestly work to make the theoretical a reality.

    The good news I get to bring is this- most companies know their markets/ customers are more diverse than they know what to do with because they are homogenous in management. So in that sense, we are past racism in that even all-white managed companies are not willing to risk loss of market share due to alienation of minority consumer populations! Gone is the day the diner will not sell one more plate to a paying customer of the “wrong” race. Amen.

    The challenge is- we have not arrived in an “equal access to opportunity” society. As companies need to diversity their employee base so as to capitalize on the market base, they need experts and guides to break down old (comfortable) patters of nepotism.

    So, I am with you… someone has got to level the playing field. Be the advocate and ally for more inclusive educational and work environments. Solve the challenges the global economy presents with fresh perspectives and diverse approach to thought.

    My response? It might as well start with me! And, the work isn’t as tedious knowing I’m not alone.

    Look me up- University of Oregon, Lundquist College of Business.
    I am making a living by challenging the status quo one leader at a time.

    1. Tayah,

      I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. I echo your sentiments. While we have come a long way as it pertains to racism (and some of the other isms in America), there is still much work to be done. Sometimes, the work is tiring, but, just as those before us forged their way so there could be a better society for those that would follow, we, too, must do the same.

      I will definitely look you up as I am so excited about sharing ideas and supporting each others efforts. Collectively, we can accomplish so much more than we ever could alone! Again, thank you for your comments!

      Most respectfully,

      Cheryl Curtis

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