Questions I’ve Been Asked: Part 3

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Q:  Amid the Academy Awards controversy, is it okay to force an industry to make diversity changes or is it the wrong approach and should evolve naturally?

A: Diversity of representation does not evolve naturally, and cannot be forced.  But it can be encouraged, which is what I see happening.  The big brohaha at the 2016 Academy Awards arose from a heightened societal awareness of race, gender, age and other inequities.  All kinds of media served up both coverage and reminders of the number of unarmed African-Americans killed or harmed by law enforcement; the issues around mass incarceration of minority populations; the continuing gender pay inequality (fifty years after passage of the Fair Pay Act!)  Add to that the technology industry’s embarrassing diversity problems; a lack of role models in entertainment for older actors and actresses, and diversity has been and I hope will continue to be in the spotlight.  Inclusive and diverse environments are created when leaders are intentional in developing them.  If you are heading an industry and have never been affected by the problem, you are unlikely to give it much thought.  Having these issues called to your attention, and understanding the significant business value that comes from D&I, then puts you in a position to change the norm.  We need only a few powerful white men to connect on this and help make change happen.  Time, and action, will tell.

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