Hiring A Handful Of Black People Isn’t Diversity

  Zachary Nelson via Unsplash
Zachary Nelson via Unsplash

Originally published August 31, 2015. 

Yesterday, Twitter’s interim CEO released a plan to add more minorities and women to their offices, particularly in the engineering sector. Companies such as Google and Leo Burnett have been open and honest about the lack of diversity within their walls for the past year now, but Twitter has been the first to publicly set numerical goals for themselves on how they plan to fix the lack of diversity within the company, which I can appreciate. That means that someone, or a group of people cared enough to sit down and hash out a plan for fixing their problem.

But as a minority in the advertising industry (which I am of course very new to) I’m not impressed with Twitter’s goals, especially the actions (or lack thereof) that they’re taking to reach minorities. Going to three HBCU career fairs is not enough, it just isn’t.

I’m disappointed in these companies and plenty of others that pride themselves on culture and celebrating the diversity of their staff, when there is not much diversity in the first place. While I understand that there has to be some sort of a starting point, there also has to be a thought out initiative. Leo Burnett’s initiative was the No2six6 campaign, which encourages individuals and advertising agencies to take a stance against the way things used to be and pledge to add more diversity to the advertising industry now, not in 50 years when current minorities will no longer be minorities.

Companies should want to have a diverse staff because of the value it will undoubtedly add to the product they are selling or the work they are producing, not because society is jumping down their throats. It’s more than just boasting about the fact that you went to an HBCU and hired three individuals from that visit, what are you going to do to keep them at your company and support their growth as minorities in Corporate America which is ruled by white men?

I’m not trying to dismiss the effort of these companies because I understand that to be the best, you want to hire the best, regardless of their race, orientation or gender. However, I am offering a different perspective that I haven’t seen executives of these companies address when speaking to reporters about their new diversity and inclusion plans.

It’s great that companies want to get serious about hiring more people of color to their business, but it’s got to be more than that. What’s the plan for getting minorities to stay at these companies? How are HR departments ensuring that racism, sexism and homophobia are not within the company? Will trainings on privilege, microaggressions and how to respect someone different than you be provided?

That’s why I’m not impressed by these companies that are suddenly pro-diversity. I cannot understand how any company could be against having a diverse office when people of color have the largest purchasing power in the United States. This isn’t some fad, this is where we’re headed.

Hiring a handful of black people who will be a gone in a year or two is not being pro-diversity; it’s putting a Band-Aid on a deep wound that needs serious attention.

If Twitter achieves their goals this time next year, and I hope they do, that will be awesome, but it doesn’t end there. You can’t be content with just hiring the black guy and thinking that’s enough. Learn from the minorities you hire, give them a chance to speak on their experiences in Corporate America, understand how as an entire office you can foster an environment of respect for all employees.

I expect more out of Twitter, out of any company that suddenly wants to hire people of color. It isn’t just HR’s problem; it’s the entire businesses problem. For me, it isn’t enough to just talk about it; you have to be about be about it too. 

It’s way past time for something to be done.


Have you struggled to fit in as a person of color in your organization? Share your tips for those in similar situations below.


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