Hiring a Chief Diversity Officer Won’t Fix Your Racist Company Culture
Racial equity must be a top priority for everyone, incorporated into how a company hires, makes decisions, and approaches all of its objectives.
Sandra told me that the foundation had hired her “to solve their racism problem.” I asked how that was going. “Not great,” she said.
The organization’s leaders can say that they tried, that they are still trying, as the gap between what they commit to on their websites and how employees actually experience the workplace continues to widen.
Nadia Owusu’s essay “The Wailing” is included in the anthology forthcoming from Catapult in February 2020.
Nadia Owusu’s first book, Aftershocks, will be published by Simon and Schuster in 2020. She is the recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award. Her lyric essay chapbook, So Devilish a Fire, won the Atlas Review chapbook series. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The New York Times, Washington Post’s The Lily, the Literary Review, Electric Literature, Catapult, and others. Owusu grew up in Rome, Addis Ababa, Kampala, Dar es Salaam, Kumasi, and London. She is an Associate Director at Living Cities, an economic racial justice organization, and lives in Brooklyn.
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The thing my mom told me to do—“Save twenty percent for yourself. Never give one hundred percent to anyone.”—was not selfish after all. Not when thinking about my own survival.
Sure, sometimes she went a little overboard, trying to kill the executives rather than merely destroying their empires . . . but she had the right idea.