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Diversity, Inc.: The Failed Promise of a Billion-Dollar Business

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An award-winning journalist shows how workplace diversity initiatives have turned into a profoundly misguided industry--and have done little to bring equality to America's major industries and institutions. Diversity has become the new buzzword, championed by elite institutions from academia to Hollywood to corporate America. In an effort to ensure their organizations rep An award-winning journalist shows how workplace diversity initiatives have turned into a profoundly misguided industry--and have done little to bring equality to America's major industries and institutions. Diversity has become the new buzzword, championed by elite institutions from academia to Hollywood to corporate America. In an effort to ensure their organizations represent the racial and ethnic makeup of the country, industry and foundation leaders have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to commission studies, launch training sessions, and hire consultants and diversity czars. But is it working? In Diversity, Inc., award-winning journalist Pamela Newkirk shines a bright light on the diversity industry, asking the tough questions about what has been effective--and why progress has been so slow. Newkirk highlights the rare success stories, sharing valuable lessons about how other industries can match those gains. But as she argues, despite decades of handwringing, costly initiatives, and uncomfortable conversations, organizations have, apart from a few exceptions, fallen far short of their goals. Diversity, Inc. incisively shows the vast gap between the rhetoric of inclusivity and real achievements. If we are to deliver on the promise of true equality, we need to abandon ineffective, costly measures and commit ourselves to combatting enduring racial attitudes


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An award-winning journalist shows how workplace diversity initiatives have turned into a profoundly misguided industry--and have done little to bring equality to America's major industries and institutions. Diversity has become the new buzzword, championed by elite institutions from academia to Hollywood to corporate America. In an effort to ensure their organizations rep An award-winning journalist shows how workplace diversity initiatives have turned into a profoundly misguided industry--and have done little to bring equality to America's major industries and institutions. Diversity has become the new buzzword, championed by elite institutions from academia to Hollywood to corporate America. In an effort to ensure their organizations represent the racial and ethnic makeup of the country, industry and foundation leaders have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to commission studies, launch training sessions, and hire consultants and diversity czars. But is it working? In Diversity, Inc., award-winning journalist Pamela Newkirk shines a bright light on the diversity industry, asking the tough questions about what has been effective--and why progress has been so slow. Newkirk highlights the rare success stories, sharing valuable lessons about how other industries can match those gains. But as she argues, despite decades of handwringing, costly initiatives, and uncomfortable conversations, organizations have, apart from a few exceptions, fallen far short of their goals. Diversity, Inc. incisively shows the vast gap between the rhetoric of inclusivity and real achievements. If we are to deliver on the promise of true equality, we need to abandon ineffective, costly measures and commit ourselves to combatting enduring racial attitudes

42 review for Diversity, Inc.: The Failed Promise of a Billion-Dollar Business

  1. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Goodreads giveaway win!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    ***I was granted an ARC of this via Netgalley from the publisher.*** Today, diversity is a hot topic in the United States. It is the topic of countless corporate meetings, professional workshops and online discussions. There are college programs for people who want to learn how to be diversity czars in the workplace. There is much talk over how far we have come since the last century. However, journalist Pamela Newkirk in her new book Diversity, Inc: The Failed Promise of a Billion-Do ***I was granted an ARC of this via Netgalley from the publisher.*** Today, diversity is a hot topic in the United States. It is the topic of countless corporate meetings, professional workshops and online discussions. There are college programs for people who want to learn how to be diversity czars in the workplace. There is much talk over how far we have come since the last century. However, journalist Pamela Newkirk in her new book Diversity, Inc: The Failed Promise of a Billion-Dollar Business examines just how short we have fallen when it comes to delivering on diversity in the workplace. For the purposes of this book, Newkirk looks at diversity in many fields but pays special attention to art and entertainment, academia and corporate America and how it affects the three largest ethnic minorities in the United States: African American/Blacks, Hispanics/Latinx and Asian Americans. There are numerous campaigns and millions of dollars spent in these industries pushing diversity initiatives that are supposed to increase the number of ethnic minorities represented. However, as Newkirk shows this has not resulted in workplaces resembling the ethnic makeup of the United States. For example, from 1985 to 2016 “the proportion of Black men in management at all US companies with one hundred employees or more barely budged, from 3 percent to 3.2 percent.” Black, Hispanics and Asians as well as women remain disproportionately underrepresented in many fields. How is this possible when it seems companies and academic institutions seems to be pushing diversity left and right? According to Newkirk it is: “Impossible to understand diversity without exploring the big business of it, the tension between the rhetoric and expenditures, and the chronically disappointing results.” Newkirk examines each industry in question and examines its it past issues with diversity, the diversity efforts tried or currently in place and how those diversity efforts have panned out. The author gives the reader a historical background on the diversity issues of each industry. She does a good job at providing statistics which unfortunately in most cases provide a dismal view of the effectiveness of diversity programs. “Perhaps most surprising is that many of the fields considered the most progressive, such as the arts and entertainment, are the least diverse…” But the author also highlights some successes of diversity initiatives: Coca Cola’s efforts after a large class action lawsuit and the NFL’s use of the Rooney Rule, which mandates that at least one minority candidate must be seriously considered for a coaching position. Newkirk does not just point out how diversity efforts fail but why. She, along with others in the field, sees that a lack of support from leadership can doom any efforts to failure. Many diversity professionals find that “while they work in the trenches and are held to account for workplace tensions and uninspiring results, many critics ignore the extent to which their success-or that of any initiative they deploy-wholly rests on the will, intention, and competence of those at the top of the institutions they serve.” This book shows that without the support of leadership and more inspired ways of encouraging diversity, things will continue to stay the same no matter how much money or fancy campaigns we throw at the problem. If you’re interested in an in-depth look at how diversity in the workplace, academia and entertainment has been handled and why we seem not to have made much headway then this book will most certainly be of interest to you. Rating: 4 stars. Would recommend to a friend.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    "During more than three decades of my professional life, diversity has been a national preoccupation. Yet despite decades of handwringing, costly initiatives, and uncomfortable conversations, progress in most elite American institutions has been negligible. [...] Why, after five decades of countless studies, public pledges, and high-profile initiatives, is diversity lagging in most elite fields? And why do many White Americans believe that racial progress has been much better than the numbers suggest? "During more than three decades of my professional life, diversity has been a national preoccupation. Yet despite decades of handwringing, costly initiatives, and uncomfortable conversations, progress in most elite American institutions has been negligible. [...] Why, after five decades of countless studies, public pledges, and high-profile initiatives, is diversity lagging in most elite fields? And why do many White Americans believe that racial progress has been much better than the numbers suggest? This is the research question that Pamela Newkirk, an award-winning journalist and professor at NYU, poses. She posits that the diversity conversation began in 1968 with the release of the Kerner Commission's report on the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, calling for the inclusion of Black Americans in all institutions. Since then, no matter how often the topic comes up in lawsuits, affirmative action in higher education, #OscarsSoWhite, etc., we haven't seen a fundamental shift in the numbers of people of color in elite positions. Not only that, but there is now a billion-dollar industry around diversity, with millions of positions for diversity and inclusion consultants being advertised every year. Newkirk focuses on three industries in particular: Hollywood, academia, and corporate America. She recounts the history, often shameful, of these three institutions when it comes to how they have portrayed and treated people of color. (A note that Newkirk deals only with racial diversity in this book, but acknowledges that other forms of diversity are part of the greater conversation.) She does a fantastic job at taking these industries to task, pointing out how they have succeeded, but more importantly, how and WHY they have failed to make significant progress. What I found most compelling about this book is Newkirk rooting the argument for diversity and inclusion in the greater conversation about race, equality, and discrimination in America. This is a fundamental question when it comes to diversity - just look at Supreme Court decisions about affirmative action and you'll see justices of the United States questioning why diversity is important. In a political moment like this one, diversity is not just about proportional representation. It's about decisions being made by people who understand the world differently than the white male experience. It's about confronting that race relations in this country - racism, police brutality, voting rights, mass incarceration, etc. - will not change until we both reckon with our shameful history and work hard to erase it. The reason that racism is so pervasive today is the same reason diversity initiatives have not succeeded, perfectly summed up by this quote Newkirk shares, from Ford Foundation president Darren Walker: "Progress won't come without us being uncomfortable [...] People want to believe we can have diversity and not really get uncomfortable...It requires incumbent leaders and managers to change their behavior and practices. It means that institutions have to change incentive structures and to fundamentally interrogate their own behavior, which is very uncomfortable. There is so much more I could say about this book, but I recommend you read it for yourself. It is a fascinating work of history, but more importantly, a collection of valuable lessons learned on diversity, and what work needs to come next. Ultimately, shifts in diversity won't come about until we commit to restructuring who has power - and this will always come as a threat to those who currently have power. But if we want to truly commit to creating a more inclusive society and not just making empty promises, this is the work that needs to happen.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Velez Diodonet

    "Progress won't come without us being uncomfortable. People want to believe we can have diversity and not really get uncomfortable...It requires incumbent leaders and managers to change their behavior and practices. It means that institutions have to change incentive structures and to fundamentally interrogate their own behavior."- Darren Walker, The Ford Foundation president Diversity is today's hot topic and "trend" but has anything really changed and has the nation moved far enough in the rig "Progress won't come without us being uncomfortable. People want to believe we can have diversity and not really get uncomfortable...It requires incumbent leaders and managers to change their behavior and practices. It means that institutions have to change incentive structures and to fundamentally interrogate their own behavior."- Darren Walker, The Ford Foundation president Diversity is today's hot topic and "trend" but has anything really changed and has the nation moved far enough in the right direction to call it progress? In this book, the author an award winning journalist and professor discusses the attempts to diversify in academia, Hollywood and corporate America. She illuminates what has worked and exposes the underlying truths and history of this nation that have become so engrained and institutionalized that have impeded real progress. She argues the main premise that diversity cannot happen without inclusivity on all levels of decision making. She argues the topic of diversity from business perspective and gives into what changes need to happen I order to see long lasting effects. I really enjoyed this book because the author provided the history and challenges of diversity to give greater context. She highlights the underlying biases and inherent racism that makes rapid change almost impossible. She is raw and honest in her assessment but offers great insight and solutions that need to be considered. This book is one that I would add to the list of books that everyone must read in their lifetime. Once you read about this topic, you will never be the same. The author prepares you to have difficult conversations and become an advocate for change. Thanks to Bold Type Press for the ARC and chance to give an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dorothy Moran

    Pamela Newkirk’s compelling book, Diversity, Inc. The Failed Promise of a Billion-Dollar Business, offers a fresh look at diversity efforts in Hollywood, higher education, and corporate America. With surgical precision, and supported by irrefutable data, Newkirk’s gripping analysis eloquently raises questions, diagnoses the problem, and offers a bold prescription for the realization of meaningful diversity and inclusion. This is the book I’ve been waiting for. It’s a must read!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Anne

    picked this up for personal and professional reasons, author does a GREAT job supporting the narrative with hard data without causing analysis paralysis. From my personal HR experience, we often don’t have a seat on the table and/or leaders don’t value the HR side of the business and some HR people just don’t care. This profession has to do better.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Theodore Kinni

    5 stars for exposing the fact that decades of lip service to diversity and inclusion in business, media, academia, and sports have left us pretty much where we started in Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. 3 stars for the prescriptive advice for getting beyond it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Aubrey

  9. 4 out of 5

    Shelley Sams

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sabina

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

  13. 5 out of 5

    Smr

  14. 4 out of 5

    Summer

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bridgette

  16. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Pirmann

  17. 4 out of 5

    Reggie

  18. 5 out of 5

    Judith Taveras

  19. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kara

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cristie Underwood

  22. 5 out of 5

    Madeline

  23. 4 out of 5

    Becca

  24. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Hatch

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rebeccajonesnyc

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  27. 5 out of 5

    Miriam T

  28. 5 out of 5

    sibrr

  29. 5 out of 5

    Shirin

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jillian Martin

  31. 4 out of 5

    Sarra Khlifi

  32. 4 out of 5

    Icenic Frazier

  33. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

  34. 4 out of 5

    Rosa Hathaway

  35. 5 out of 5

    Aaron David

  36. 4 out of 5

    Katy

  37. 4 out of 5

    Ashtar Boulos

  38. 5 out of 5

    Ashleigh

  39. 5 out of 5

    Arron

  40. 5 out of 5

    Columbus

  41. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

  42. 5 out of 5

    Gretchen

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