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Something to Think About: The Federal Government Should Change Corporate Diversity Measures

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Op/Ed By Michael Vaughn –

 

new michael vaughnThe title of this column is called, “Something to Think About,” however, usually, I do not use it to gripe or complain about things.

So, in the spirit of this idea, I am hoping I might articulate a problem that needs to be addressed, instead of griping about it.

There are those who have sometimes accused me of being against African-Americans, and that is ok. Those folks just do not know me, or where I come from, so I do not take into consideration what they think.

But, to be clear, the point, when I have referenced certain things about African-Americans, has never been to put us down (hello, I am African-American).

Instead, it has been to get us to think, and then to turn those thoughts into action.

In this week’s column, I would like to talk about the fact that the federal government should change the way employment is tracked when it comes to diversity.

You may say, “How does this impact me?”

And, I am glad that you asked, because you are about to find out.

There has recently been a push to have diverse teams of people assigned to projects in corporate America, and research has shown that diverse teams are more innovative, successful, etc., compared to homogeneous teams.

There are also laws on the books that are meant to to ensure corporations do not discriminate against certain protected groups.

As a result, there are also metrics in place to determine (or to help determine) whether these companies are meeting the required standards.

One standard the government frequently uses to measure corporations’ diversity efforts, is to keep track of the way they are hiring women and people of color (POC).

And, it is this metric that I think needs to be changed.

As you may have guessed, this metric does not provide a totally accurate picture of the way African-Americans are hired, since “people of color,” can also mean Asians, Indians, Hispanics, etc.

Consequently, companies can use this metric to meet government mandates, without actually meeting the metric for hiring African Americans.

African-Americans have been the most (if not one of the top two) discriminated groups in America.

And, if any diversity metric is to be useful, it should measure the way our nation’s corporations are hiring African-Americans, in particular.

However, the POC metric, as it currently stands, has made it possible for corporations to meet their diversity metrics without coming close to truly bringing in more African-Americans.

For example, say a company hires 100 people, in one month.

The company’s goal was to hire 20 percent POC, and 30 percent women, and they met their goal by the end of the month.

In fact, they met this goal every month.

Ultimately, at the end of the year, they would have hired 1,200 people, including 360 women, and 240 POC.

The entire company would likely be celebrating its success.

But, when the true numbers were dissected, they might show that only two percent of African-Americans had been hired throughout the year.

Therefore, only a total of 24 African-Americans would have been added to the company.

The outcome would be that, for every 10 POC hired, only one was African-American.

And, for every 15 women hired, only one would have been African-American.

In addition, for every 25 white men hired, only one would have been African-American.

This is the system that must change!

African-Americans may get locked into a cycle of misrepresentation with this system, and therefore would not have an adequate pipeline into positions of leadership.

Democrats, with all of their influence and power, should change this standard.

African-Americans have constantly (and most of the time without thinking) given their votes to folks who have kept them locked in a losing battle, and then shifted the blame for the African-American plight elsewhere.

We should not settle for a system that praises companies for “checking the box” on diversity, while companies continue to hire low numbers of African-Americans.

This is a federal system that does not support African-Americans, or the progression of leadership in America’s companies.

It is a system that needs to change, and that will only happen when the underrepresented group screams loud enough to change it.

Now is the time to scream!

If you would like to contact me, please email me at mvaughn.seniorpastor@newwineskin.org.

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