Dr. Jim discussed the topic of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) on his podcast . He noted that progress for the Black community has been slow and questioned whether this slow progress is a design feature or a bug.
He has had conversations with members of the Black community about civil rights, representation and advancement, and how DEIB was brought forward to create a more equitable world of work and opportunity for the Black community. The conversation highlights the need to consider this slow progress and the importance of DEIB in creating a more equitable world.
Dr. Jim talks about the level of frustration that comes up when discussing D E I B initiatives, and how they often don't do what they're designed to do. He references James Baldwin's debate with William F. Buckley and his later quote from 1980, which reflects the struggles of the Black community over the past 60 years.
Dr. Jim concludes that if a fair-minded person looks at the slow progress of D E I B initiatives, they must conclude that the slow progress is a design feature.
He encourages people to think about what other conclusion can be drawn from this.
Exploring the Slow Pace of Progress for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB)
"Exploring the Impact of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Initiatives on the Black Community"
Examining the Effectiveness of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives
Conversation on Oppression and Initiatives to Address Injustice
Examining the Need for Sustained Focus on DEIB
Music Credit: Maarten Schellekens - Riviera
The Slow Pace of Progress for Diversity is a Design Feature Not a Bug
[00:00:00] Dr. Jim: thanks for joining us today on Cascading Leadership. We appreciate you tuning in for another quick episode. The question that I want to explore in today's conversation is, this is D E I B, so diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Functioning as designed, and here's the reason why I'm asking that question is that I've had numerous conversations over the course of the last month or so and I've really dug into a lot of the conversation that exists within the Black community about the state of progress when it comes to civil rights, when it comes to equal rights, when it comes to representation, and any number of things that are related to the advancement of the Black community.
[00:00:43] Dr. Jim: D E I B, was brought forward to. Create a more equitable world of work or more equitable opportunity for the Black community, which had been historically marginalized through the entire history of the US
[00:00:58] Dr. Jim: and there's many [00:01:00] different ways that this shows up, but the reason why I ask this question is really when we look at the outcomes of a lot of the diversity initiatives- what's been the impact of the Black community when it comes to D E I B efforts? And when you look at the data, you look at the Fortune 500 companies, there's only been two or three Black women that have risen to e o in the history of the Fortune 500.
[00:01:28] Dr. Jim: There's been a few more Black men who have rise. To that level of c e o in the history of the Fortune 500. And if you're not asking the question about are the optics of that in line with what it should be, given how the demographics are within the us, you'd logically have to come to the decision that no there's a huge disparity The impact of D E I B and the advancement of the Black community and Black professionals, which [00:02:00] brought me to raise the question . Is that a bug or is that by? , and I'm intentional in asking that question because when you look at the beneficiaries of all of these different initiatives and laws that have been passed that are designed to uplift historically marginalized communities and specifically the Black community, where does the impact fall?
[00:02:22] Dr. Jim: The greatest beneficiaries of all of these initiatives aren't actually Black people. So that begs the question, is that by design or is that a bug in the architecture? and it got me to thinking, one of the things that I've done over the course of the last month is really work on engaging with a lot of Black practitioners in the D E I B space.
[00:02:46] Dr. Jim: And one of the things that commonly comes up is a level of frustration. How D E I B initiatives are actually not doing what they're designed to do. [00:03:00] And one of the interesting things that I got on my radar over the course of this month is a quote by James Baldwin, and if you haven't.
[00:03:07] Dr. Jim: Listen to any of his work. It's phenomenal. One of the most interesting speeches that I saw of Baldwin was his debate. . And I forgot exactly the the forum, but it was in England and I'm thinking it's Oxford. But he debated William F. Buckley and completely owned Buckley In terms of the rhetorical argument for the plight of the Black American. Definitely check that out. That's on YouTube. One of the more interesting things about, the debate between Buckley and Baldwin happened.
[00:03:37] Dr. Jim: Much earlier in Baldwin's Baldwin's life. And you fast forward to 1980 which was several decades after the Baldwin and Buckley debate, and you have a much older James Baldwin making the comment. And this is this is what I'll. , what is it that you want me to reconcile myself to?
[00:03:57] Dr. Jim: I was born here almost 60 years ago. I'm not gonna [00:04:00] live another 60 years. You've always told me it takes time. It's taken my father's time, it's taken my mother's time, my uncle's time, my brother's time, and my sister's time. How much time do you want for your progress? That quote from Baldwin from 19?
[00:04:14] Dr. Jim: Reflecting back on his 60 years of experience in life as a Black citizen in America and navigating life in those circumstances really puts things into perspective and make and draws you back to that question. Is D E I B functioning as designed or is it a bug in the architecture. If you're any sort of fair minded person, you would almost have to reach the conclusion that the slow progress it's a design feature.
[00:04:44] Dr. Jim: What other conclusion can you come up with? When you look just in my lifetime and you look at any event that created a flashpoint where it was dealing with the Black community and the Black community's response.
[00:04:59] Dr. Jim: [00:05:00] To oppression by in any number of ways, whether you're talking about Rodney King, whether you're talking about what happened with Craig Hodges when he spoke up during the Bulls run of championships. You look at Mau Abdul ra, you look at Colin Kaepernick when he decided to take a knee.
[00:05:17] Dr. Jim: You look at the murder of George Floyd, and basically any number of instances over and over again as soon as the Black community points out the injustice that they face. It's interesting to examine our reactions to it and how that's almost shouted down in some respects.
[00:05:39] Dr. Jim: When you think about the historical underpinnings of that,
[00:05:43] Dr. Jim: and we see initiative in after initiative that's pushed forward to help the Black community, but ultimately the people that benefit the most are not the Black community. The one thing that I'm wondering about when we think about all of these different initiatives,[00:06:00] Drive more equality and equity into the American world of work.
[00:06:05] Dr. Jim: I'm sitting here wondering, are we watering down the core purpose of these initiatives by bringing in all sorts of other criteria or all sorts of other demographics, which rightfully have their own? Interests and are aggrieved in different ways, but are we watering down the core objective? By doing that?
[00:06:30] Dr. Jim: Should we be more focused on correcting the injustice to the longest standing or longest tenured group of Americans, the Black community? Should we focus on that first before we. Emphasize some of these other communities that also have legitimate issues that we that, that need to be addressed.
[00:06:52] Dr. Jim: And I don't know how to answer that question, but it's an interesting question to pose and, really makes [00:07:00] you wonder if we're going about this the wrong ? Is there a way where we can do it in parallel without watering down any of these different and important initiatives? That's a question that. Will bear observation cuz I don't have the answer to that. But what is interesting is that, when I look at, Black History Month winding down and I hear, from, people in my network who are Black professionals that, focusing on these issues for just one month isn't enough. This needs to be a sustained and deliberate focus until there's true equity, and that's really the core thing that we need to look at. And that's what I'm gonna leave you with today, is to ponder that question.
[00:07:44] Dr. Jim: I understand that this is a question that, know, some people may not want to even consider, and that's fine. I'm of the position that unless you are asking these questions, and really looking at it from a historical context, you're [00:08:00] not really gonna have the level of progress that that you need or that you say that you want unless we seriously consider these things.
[00:08:07] Dr. Jim: So hopefully this has got you thinking. I'd be curious to get your take on on what you think of the episode. So thanks for joining us. Hopefully this generated some thought. I'm curious to get your take on the question whether it's it's something that you've considered and if you have considered it, what's the conclusion or what's the solution? Looking forward to having more great conversations coming up in future episodes and we'll talk soon.