Diversity is more than a Mosaic

John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM | 5/22/2017, 6:44 p.m.
There is a lot of conversation today about diversity and inclusion, and for some it’s more about checking the box ...
John E. Harmon, Sr

“My job is to do what’s best for the organization and to make that decision regardless of what the consequences are to me personally,” Dan Rooney once said. “I take my position very seriously. What I want is an organization that can be together, one where everybody in the place has the same goal, and that is to win.” I agree with Mr. Rooney’s philosophy, which is typically embraced by those in the sports arena, because is it all about winning championships through the selection of the best talent available. Mr. Rooney demonstrated that he practiced what he preached by hiring Mike Tomlin to become the third coach in the Pittsburgh Steelers history. What was obvious about Mr. Tomlin is he’s African American. On one hand, this decision demonstrated Mr. Rooney was a man of principle and willingness to place his organization at risk in the eyes of many. However, this bold move by Mr. Rooney show an immediate payoff when Mr. Tomlin took the Pittsburgh Steelers to the playoffs in 2008, then onto win Super bowl in 2009. The prior season, the Steelers had just won half the games they played.

Pittsburgh has had a mere three head coaches since 1969. Noll won four Super Bowls. Bill Cowher won one and Mike Tomlin has won one. Mr. Rooney was one example of demonstrated will that led to successful outcome through an effective leveraging of diversity. The next is a corporation representing an industry that is often criticized due to its lack of hiring African Americans.

Google is partnering with Howard University, a historically black school, to launch a 12-week program on the tech giant's Mountain View campus. The effort is aimed at boosting diversity at Google, which, like the rest of the Silicon Valley tech sector, has struggled to recruit and retain a racially diverse workforce.

The 12-week program will be open to about 25 to 30 rising Howard juniors and seniors majoring in computer science. Classes will be taught by senior Google engineers and Howard faculty. Bonita Stewart, Google’s vice president of global partnerships, called Howard West the “centerpiece” of the tech giant’s efforts to bolster its hiring of African American software engineers and an expansion of its relationship with historically black colleges”.

Howard University President Wayne Frederick said, “We envisioned this program with bold outcomes in mind – to advance the strategy.”

Google and other tech companies have struggled for years to promote diversity in their ranks, especially when it comes to black representation. Just 1 percent of Google’s workforce is black, according to its most recent diversity report. Overall, only 2 percent of the tech industry is black. More than a third of African American students with computer science degrees come from historically black colleges like Howard University, and yet rarely find jobs in Silicon Valley, according to a USA today report.

Diversity and inclusion should be all about impact meeting a value imperative through a transparent and objective process; the aforementioned clearly demonstrates that fact. The AACCNJ’s advocates for the same imperatives here in New Jersey with a goal to have government and corporations aligned with a value proposition versus a good faith effort.

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