When then-presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren promised to make a young trans-gendered person an advisor in her administration, during one particularly rousing campaign stop, Warren had the right idea.
Having different perspectives weigh-in to improve the overall perspective of an organization is brilliant.
Companies, corporations, organizations, schools; entities in the U.S. and around the world are always grappling with the newly discovered- for some- world of multiculturalism and the global economy.
International companies have long struggled with these growing pains as they’ve entered emerging markets over the past decades. Cultural literacy is something they teach in business schools these days. Because it's important.
For instance, if a U.S. company is organizing a retreat for its American employees, everyone gets their own private room in the hotel.
Of course they do, right?
But if a U.S. company is organizing a retreat for its employees in a South Asian market, some of those employees might prefer to share a room with a co-worker or even two.
Privacy is certainly a cherished value in the U.S. It would be very odd for a company to ask two American co-workers to share a sleeping accommodation. As such, it is hard for some Americans to believe that privacy is not universally as cherished. In some South Asian countries for instance, community is a much more important priority than privacy. As such, booking separate rooms for every employee in that situation would leave many rooms unoccupied as employees bunked-up anyway.
Many companies haven’t learned these things the easy way. That is, by asking.
Advertising agencies don’t exactly have a great track record either. Somehow, a terrible ad strategy leaves multiple boardrooms, gets approved by legal, goes worldwide…until a single person without a Euro-centric blindspot takes one single glance at it.
Even very successful entrepreneurs like Kim Kardashian have run afoul of being unintentionally foul. Kardashian named a recent clothing line “Kimono” until backlash forced the brand to revise its marketing.
All this embarrassment could easily be solved by more diverse workforces. But, of course, diverse workforces take time. Inequality is so endemic in America, not every field has diverse candidates to currently choose from. Hopefully someday qualified people of every heritage imaginable will populate all fields.
Until then, companies need to create diversity-learning panels to review anything that is going to be communicated to public. Or anything that is going to be circulated in private. Or, well, anything.
This new department, like legal, could review that marketing campaign or ad; one hearty eye-roll later, the company could save millions of dollars and millions of man-hours in company chagrin.
Media outlets in the U.S. need to create just such a panel to review all the stories journalists and editors intend to reveal to the public during Covid-19.
That panel should ideally be populated by a diverse group of blue-collar working people and small business owners; a few Hispanic-American and African-American small business owners who are watching their businesses crumble day after day. The owner of a small company in Kansas who just had to lay-off all 60 of his employees after 25-years in business- some of whom are like his family.
There should also be a few people who have spent at least some of the last month waiting in one of those hours-long lines at food banks around the country.
This panel of working-class people could provide a balancing objective. And embarrassing articles could be prevented: Like this one by someone who thinks anti-lockdown complaints are childish foot-stamping.
Clearly, media outlets need to hire a diverse group of unemployed, blue-collar workers to read these articles before they are published, just to make sure they don’t sound like bourgeoisie garbage.
The press at large is being perhaps more dismissive of the working-class than ever- and that’s saying something considering the press dismissed the working-class so completely in 2016, it failed to see Trump’s election as even a remote possibility.
Rather than cover the many lock-down protests occurring all over the nation with curiosity and nuance, the press has dismissed the protestors and lock-down critics en masse as racist Trump supporters .
The purpose of the press is not to attend one of these events, find the craziest person there, and use that person to discredit the whole movement and/or shame everyone else from participating. People in California want their beaches back; that doesn’t make them Nazis.
Acting as if Republicans are the only ones upset with the extended lock-downs in places with low-rates of infection is willfully ignorant or worse.
Neither Californias nor New Yorkers are especially known for their conservative politics; anti-lockdown protests are taking place in both places.
It isn’t any surprise that journalists and editors, working comfortably from home and still getting paid, are utterly blind to the woes of the working class during these shut-downs.
But there isn’t any excuse for it either.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)