Inspiring Leadership with Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence

Posts tagged ‘equal opportunity’

How Data Can Change Traditional Approaches to Diversity & Inclusion

data2Lately, I have been fascinated with the ABC-TV hit, “How to Get Away with Murder”. Interestingly enough, I simultaneously read the Twitter comments while watching the show. Afterwards, I check Wikipedia to learn the ratings data (i.e., how many people watched the show) in the prior week.

What does this have to do with diversity and inclusion? Alot. Instead of simply stating that there are not enough television shows featuring diverse individuals, a stronger business case for diversity in television programming would center around Nielsen ratings and Twitter use—which USA Today also reports on a regular basis. One could also make the case based on the quantity and quality of advertisers.

Pertaining to the workplace, I recently read the October 2014 U.S. Department of Labor Unemployment Report, which stated that the unemployment rate for whites declined to 4.8 percent; while blacks were at 10.9 percent; Hispanics, 6.8 percent; and Asians, 5.0 percent. The question is, ‘with all of this so-called diversity and inclusion in the workplace, why is the unemployment rate so high for blacks?

In June 2014, Forbes ran article entitled, “White High School Drop-Outs Are As Likely To Land Jobs As Black College Students” by Susan Adams. The author asserts that there are “numerous theories to explain the employment gap between the races and a list of proposed solutions. Persistent racial discrimination in hiring is one obvious cause. The high incarceration rate among African-Americans is another reason, says the report, citing a 2014 Brookings study showing that there is nearly a 70% chance that an African-American male without a high school diploma will be in prison by his mid-30s; having a criminal record makes it much tougher to find a job.”

The federal government has its own theories. The Bureau of Labor Statistics contends that the unemployment rate for blacks has always been higher than whites. In other words, this is status quo—no need for alarm. Another government report states that blacks simply “look for the right job longer”. Yet the title of Susan Adams’ article is particularly troubling as it implies that even highly educated blacks are likely to be the last to find jobs—especially if folks are more willing to hire a white high school drop-out before they hire a black college student.

But other data suggests that the disparity is different depending on where one lives. For instance, the Midwest sees a much wider gap between black and white unemployment than other regions — especially the West. In some states (Vermont, South Dakota, Utah, etc.), the black population is so small that the comparison doesn’t shed much light. But in states with substantial black populations, there has been only one year in one state in which the unemployment rate for blacks was lower than that for whites: 2007 in Massachusetts. That year, the average unemployment rate for blacks in the state was 4.3 percent. For whites, it was 4.7.

What is interesting about 2007 in Massachusetts is that the crime rate, in large cities like Boston, dropped significantly. Property crime, for example, consistently occurred above the national average in prior years. But starting in 2008, it began to fall so dramatically that now it is consistently below the national average, according to Additionally, the Boston Globe reported that “some 84.7 percent of students who entered Boston high schools in fall 2008 graduated in 2012, an increase of 4.8 percentage points from six years earlier.” Note that the graduation rate was higher than the U.S. Department of Education’s 2012 national average of 80%, an all-time high.

My point is that many people complain about high crime, the lack of education, and more, that plague inner cities in America. Yet, one of the best indicators as to whether things will be different is the monthly unemployment report. If unemployment, for example, is particularly disparate, it will likely be reflected in other areas of society. But instead of saying, “the unemployment rate for blacks is much higher than any other group”, the business case for ensuring equal employment opportunity lies in improving the quality of life, reducing crime, and creating an educational system that works for all individuals, as well as for their future employers. Not surprisingly, much of this data points to the notion of interdependence within the diversity and inclusion space where employers, educators and community leaders, as well as government officials must connect their efforts.

At the end of the day, whether you are in the U.S. or in another country, the proliferation of data should enable you to build a stronger business case—easily comparing data points, providing deeper insights, and establishing connections to business objectives. Hence, moving beyond merely stating how many diverse people work, or don’t work, with an organization, toward utilizing more meaningful data to effect change.

By Leah Smiley


Leah Smiley is the President of the Society for Diversity, the #1 and largest professional association for diversity and inclusion. For more information about the Society for Diversity, log onto


Has 50 Years of EEO Law Gone Too Far?

By Leah Smiley

Over the last few days, there has been a lot of talk about affirmative action and racism. It was ironic because this week, I spoke to a group at Virginia Wesleyan College on the topic of “America & Racism: Has 50 Years of EEO Law Gone Too Far?” Following is a brief summary of my talk.

While there is a chorus of individuals who assert that any discourse about fairness, equity, or diversity amounts to reverse discrimination; there is also a legitimate issue to be addressed here. The choir recognizes that ‘privilege’ is a powerful asset. Each step that we take toward leveling the playing field is an encroachment on the unearned benefits that have characterized racial division for centuries.

Like other countries who have Equity and Diversity legislation, Equal Employment Opportunity law is step in the right direction. But keep in mind that the law is for the lawless, or those who benefit from such actions. For example, if you are not a thief or someone who fences stolen goods, then mandatory minimum sentencing for stealing may not be that high on your list of priorities. Likewise, slavery was abolished in 1865 and while it was a highly divisive issue at that time– today, slavery is not a topic that roils many. But this issue of Equal Opportunity and Diversity is another story.

While I was on campus, a student asked me, “Are colleges going to be able to deny admission for black students”? I said no. Regardless of what the law says, achieving diversity through inclusion of different groups is invaluable for every educational institution. Here’s why: students won’t stay in college for ever. When they leave the campus, and enter the workplace, the lack of skills in this realm called diversity is going to land your high achieving alumni in minimum wage positions.

As more organizations become global, the inability to work with all different types of people, generate great ideas in the midst of conflict, and target diverse new markets, will become a thorn in the student’s side. That is one of the reasons why corporations say that colleges are not preparing students for life in the real world. Even if there are some who say, “America has made it this far with White men”. Reality says that history neglects the contributions that thousands of diverse individuals have made over the years.

If there is ever going to be a time when EEO Law is ruled “unconstitutional”, there must be some things in place first. For one, fairness for all (including LGBT and immigrants) has to be the order of the day. Second, more people must use their privilege as power. Privilege is not bad– what is bad is how you use your privileges.

For instance, the Clippers turned their jerseys inside out to protest their owner’s negative comments. For all of the millions of children that look up to basketball players, that was a very weak demonstration of how to use privilege as power. Think about it, how powerful would it have been if the players stopped the playoff game? Ah, but the risk was too great. Rosa Parks made a sacrifice that still pays benefits today. And Mohammed Ali is known as the Greatest of All Time, even though he was banned from the sport for 5 years when he was in his prime. We all have to make those types of sacrifices for the next generation. Let’s not have faux fairness, but genuine change.

Finally, each person has to be respected for their individual strengths and contributions.  If we are not willing to go above and beyond the call of duty for fairness and inclusion on behalf of others, then 50 years of EEO Law has not gone far enough.

– Leah Smiley is the President of The Society for Diversity, the #1 professional association for Diversity and Inclusion. For more information about the Society for Diversity, log onto


Workplace Compliance with EEOC Laws—C2-PA2GER OR C-PAGER by Anita Nahal, Ph.D.

“As a result of mediation, we are able to keep our pending EEOC claims to a minimum and avoid the time and money it takes to investigate and respond to a claim,”…”exceptionally worthwhile,”… “I would highly recommend it to any company that has a charge filed against them.”
Donna M. Gwin, Director of Human Resources, Safeway, Inc.[i]

My memory for names is not good, so I remember a lot by creating catchy acronyms such as, C2-PA2GER or C-PAGER for the workplace laws enforced by the EEOC. C2-PA2GER stands for two Civil Rights Laws, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the two acts beginning with “A,” the Genetics Information Nondiscrimination Act, the Equal Pay Act and the Rehabilitation Act.  If we take the number 2 out, then the letters simply are C-PAGER. Compliance with the workplace EEOC laws is a necessity that can save millions in legal fees and settlements, regardless to which stage of the Diversity Development Continuum a company/organization/educational institution is situated— at the beginning stage of being just “compliant” with diversity or at the “advanced” final stage whereby ROI can be clearly measured by data, and the business case for diversity is well structured and implemented.

In 2012, the EEOC received a total of 99,412 cases of discrimination; mostly dealing with retaliation, race and gender. It also secured to the tune of 365.4 million in monetary recovery ( ) It was estimated that in New York alone between 2008-2012, six million state tax dollars went towards settling sexual harassment cases ( ).  The figures are alarming; both in the cases of discrimination filed and the monetary settlements secured.  Thus investment by companies/organizations and educational institutions in an Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity is pretty much, wise business sense.

There are so many laws that it can become quite difficult to remember the ones enforced by the EEOC and the ones that are not.  Among the workplace laws enforced by the EEOC, some of them have common features. All laws, except one, are applicable to organizations over 15 employees with the exception being the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) which stipulates 20 employees.  Furthermore, some of the laws cover employees in the private, state and local governments and some cover those working in the Federal government.  Employees, job applicants, former employees and applicants or participants in a training or apprenticeship are protected with coverage under these laws.  Independent contractors are not covered.  Also, all employers with over 100 employees, or all federal government contractors and first tier subcontractors with 50 or more employees and a contract amounting to over 50,000 must file an annual EEO-1 Report providing the number of employees by job category and by race, ethnicity and gender.

As per the EEOC, an employer may not fire, demote, harass or retaliate against an individual for filing a charge of discrimination or participating in a discrimination proceeding or opposing discrimination. Job advertisements, recruitment, application and hiring, job referrals, pre-employment inquiries, job assignments and promotions, pay and benefits, employment references, reasonable accommodations, training and apprenticeship programs, terms & conditions of employment, and discipline & discharge are the practices that are permissible within the gamut of various workplace laws.

There are eight workplace laws that are enforced by the EEOC.  I remember them as C2-PA2GER or C-PAGER.[i] Below is a listing with key features:


I hope the acronym C2-PA2GER (or C-PAGER), makes it easier for you to remember the EEOC laws. Of course, most of you probably have a memory better than mine and this acronym would be of no use to you.

Please note: There are some specific features & stipulations in some of the Acts.  Also, there are specific requirements as to when to file one’s case with the EEOC.  For details, please visit:

For a listing of the workplace laws that are not enforced by the EEOC, please visit:


[i] For more quotations, please visit:

[ii] C2-PA2GER of C-PAGER, stands for two Civil Rights Laws, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the two acts beginning with “A,” the Genetics Information Nondiscrimination Act, the Equal Pay Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

Anita Nahal, Ph.D. is a diversity practitioner, educationist, author, and founder & chairperson of She is former Assistant Provost for International Programs, Howard University, Washington D.C.  Learn more about Dr. Nahal at:

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