Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Leadership Tuesdays: The Truth About Color Blindness...Mellody Hobson

“Researchers have coined this term “color blindness” to describe a learned behavior where we pretend that we don’t notice race. If you happen to be surrounded by a bunch of people who look like you, that’s purely accidental. 

Now, color blindness, in my view, doesn’t mean that there’s no racial discrimination, and there’s fairness. It doesn’t mean that at all. It doesn’t ensure it. In my view, color blindness is very dangerous because it means we’re ignoring the problem… this subject matter can be hard, awkward, uncomfortable — but that’s kind of the point… 

If we can learn to deal with our discomfort, and just relax into it, we’ll have a better life."

--Mellody Hobson, President, Ariel Investments & Chairperson of the Board, DreamWorks Animation

Every other Tuesday, WOMEN AT LIBERTY provides Leadership Tuesdays, a platform for a variety of voices and resources to develop, encourage and strengthen women leaders. In March 2014, Mellody Hobson gave a courageous talk on race. A quote from her TED talk was featured on this very blog. Starting with "The Numbers Do Not Lie", Ms. Hobson spoke eloquently and frankly about the lack of diversity in leadership positions in U.S. corporations.

I believe that she nailed it when she stated that talking about race is like stepping on the third rail in a subway station. If it doesn't kill you, you will surely live with the aftershocks of the conversation for a long time. Rosalind Brewer, CEO of Sam's Club, a division of Walmart, experienced this in December 2015 when she stated in an interview that she encourages and expects diversity within her organization. And she said that she also expects it in the organizations of the suppliers that do business with Sam's Club. In a national television interview, she talked about an incident where a supplier brought a team to make a presentation to her senior management team and the supplier's whole team consisted of only white males. She said that she thought that that was "interesting" and she made a point to have a conversation with the supplier's leadership about it to determine their position on diversity. We'll talk more about this situation later this month, but suffice it to say she was roasted by certain groups in the press and those groups threatened to boycott Walmart because she dared talk about the lack of diversity that she still sees and experiences.

Today, womenatliberty is featuring a FastCompany article on its timeline that discusses how you can tell if your company really is serious when it comes to diversity and supporting women of color. Women of color are some of the most under-represented and underpaid groups when it comes to presence and visibility in senior leadership positions in corporate America.

Check out: Three Ways To Tell If Your Company Supports Women Of Color by By Sava Berhané. To read some of Mellody Hobson's other quotes that were featured on this blog, click here. For more information on Leadership Tuesdays and WOMEN AT LIBERTY, click here.

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