Diversity and Inclusion Touching All Areas of My Life – Five Examples

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Figure Skating is perhaps my favorite active leisure activity

NOTE: This blog has over a dozen links – please do explore them.

After retiring from IBM 11 years ago, I started my own diversity and career development consultancy. Naturally, I now look at everything I am involved in through a diversity lens. What I have been increasingly seeing is a tremendous focus on diversity and inclusion across the many hobbies and groups I am involved with. Here are five extremely varied examples:

1 – Figure Skating. At the age of 59, I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a competitive adult figure skater with no prior experience. (Link to one story.) And for a long time I have been an avid figure skating fan, attending US Nationals year after year, and a financial supporter through Friends of Figure Skating. Historically, there have been very few African Americans and Hispanics enjoying this sport.

But US Figure Skating has started ramping up its efforts to make the sport more inclusive and welcoming to all people, including forming a diversity task force. In the past, I have written about out gay figure skaters throughout the years, and you can read about 14 fabulous men and 1 woman in these blogs written in 2016 and the follow on in 2018.


2 – Numismatics. For those of you who do not know, numismatics is the collecting of currency – coins and paper money. I have been a coin collector since elementary school days, using my allowance and birthday money to buy rare coins. The American Numismatic Association (ANA) magazine has often featured interesting stories about our money that connects with diversity.  Two such stories inspired my blog about the derailed plans to place Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, and a second about an American coin inspired by the Ku Klux Klan.  And throughout 2020, the editor included a special feature about outstanding women in history (for example the November issues introduced me to educator, historian and political activist Dr. Pilar  Barbosa de Rosario), since women are sorely under-represented on American money.

My partner Rich and I enjoying a long trek with the Sierra Club in Morocco

3 – Nature and Conservation. I love long hikes and nature travel, and support several conservation organizations including the Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Foundation and the National Wildlife Foundation. Their magazines now often include stories about the need to increase diversity within the conservation and natural resources professions, as well as the historic negative impact that conservation work has had on under-represented and economically disadvantaged communities. Examples: The NWF’s stated commitment to equity in their work and a focus on women in conservation leadership.

And they also are featuring the diversity of their employees and stakeholders. I recently spoke to Mark Steudel, a Loyal Donor Officer with the Nature Conservancy, and he shared about their focus on inclusive recruiting and reminded me of a story featured in a past issue of their magazine about the leader of the LGBTQ Pride Employee Network.

It is always great to get back to Georgia Tech and the University of Chicago

4 – Georgia Tech and the University of Chicago. As an active and involved alumnus, I always read the alumni magazines from my two alma maters, and almost always there are one or two  articles with a very strong diversity and inclusion connection.  Examples:
• The Scheller Business School at Georgia Tech where I received my Bachelors, prominently features its commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity as a key strategic initiative imperative.
• The University of Chicago’s recent alumni magazine had an excellent multidisciplinary in depth analysis of racism, policing and protest by 5 faculty members.
• The U of Chicago Booth School of Business where I got my MBA is offering a free series on unconscious bias for students, alumni and staff, a gift from the MBA class of 2020.

The NC Council of Churches strongly believes people of all faiths need to unite against racism and islamophobia

5 – The North Carolina Council of Churches. I am a past president and current board member of the North Carolina Council of Churches, founded in 1935 by black and white clergy people wanted to address racial injustice within the church and society. Over the years the organization has grown and now works on how faith relates to poverty, health, conservation and more. But now, given the recent focus again in our nation on racial disparities and systemic racism, the council has reconstituted a Racial Equity and Peace Committee which is starting deep work to address racial disparity across all aspects of our organization’s structure and work. Racial equity is now listed at the top of the priorities list on the Council website.

In addition, the North Carolina Council of Churches is now connecting their work on climate change with environmental justice, recognizing the intersection of diversity, racial justice, economic justice, faith and environmental advocacy.  

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I encourage you to look at all the various activities you are involved in and notice the increase focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Three Trump “Diversity Wrongs” for President Biden to Quickly Correct

NOTE: I drafted this blog prior to the January 6th horrific happenings at our nation’s Capitol building.

UPDATE:  President Biden addressed all 3 of these items within the first few days of his presidency!

The past four years has seen an unparalleled assault on diversity and inclusion under the Trump administration, and throughout this time I have written about some of the areas Trump attacked. In this blog, I highlight three areas I have blogged about that hopefully the new President Biden will quickly address after his inauguration.

1) Reversing Trump’s attacks on transgender Americans. Throughout his tenure, Trump has relentlessly attacked the rights of transgender people, effectively denying transpeople actually exist. Trump started the ball rolling in the Fall of 2019 tweeting that gender should be defined as a biological immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, and directing the US Dept of Health and Human Services in an effort to establish a tight legal definition of gender under Title IX.

The US Dept of Health proposed that “the sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence,” which led to the US Health and Human Services publishing a final rule interpreting the Health Care Rights Law (§1557 of the Affordable Care Act) removing explicit protections against trans exclusions in health insurance on June 19, 2020.

Click and go to the bottom of this earlier blog to find links to multiple blogs and resources I have written about supporting transgender people in the workplace.

2) Rescinding Executive Order 13950 which tries to stop workplace training that deals with systemic racism in our country. Actually, the way the executive order was written, it is still possible to deliver meaningful diversity, equity and inclusion training that does address our systemic issues, but it may just need to be toned down a little. Unfortunately, the mean-spirited intentions behind the executive order frightened a lot of organizations to stop all forms of diversity training out of fear of losing government contracts.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the National Urban League and the National Fair Housing Alliance have filed a lawsuit arguing that this executive order violates free speech rights and strangles workplace attempts to address systemic race and sex discrimination.

Link to the blog I quickly published when this executive order first hit the news, “Trump cancels federal racial sensitivity training – Five reasons why this is so wrong.”

Let’s restart the process of getting Harriet Tubman on our $20 bill

3) Restart the machinery to place Harriet Tubman on our $20 bill. With nothing but white men on all circulating US coins and paper money, everything was aligned to finally place a woman on one piece of major circulating currency. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of women suffrage in 2020, a poll was taken and African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman won the vote to the first woman placed on our paper money. Everything was set and ready to go.

But then Trump and his Treasury Secretary Steven Mnunchin cancelled the effort, stating that this cannot happen before 2028 (!!) You can read the complete story in my blog “Black Lives Matter and our $20 Bill – An Awful American Travesty.” Now with President Biden about to take office and his appointment of our country’s first female Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, perhaps Ms. Tubman can much sooner grace our $20 bill.

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I know there are probably 1,000 awful horrible things Trump as done over the past four years like enabling the polluting of the earth, allowing hundreds of thousands to die from COVID, permitting Russia to hack into our national security systems, and more, but these are the three I have blogged about in the past.