Employees aren’t as optimistic about company diversity efforts as managers. Consultants explain why, and how to change that.

Shot of a young businessman looking stressed while using a smartphone during a late night in a modern office

One year after a wave of civil rights protests pushed CEOs to double down on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), Insider surveyed workers on how they think corporate leaders are doing to fulfill their promises.

As part of a series called Cost of Inequity, Insider conducted a survey of over 1,000 professionals, the majority of American workers think business leaders are motivated to improve DEI in the workplace. However, managers are significantly more hopeful than rank-and-file employees.

About 74% of managers said they think their employer’s executive team cares about improving diversity, compared to 63% of workers.

As corporate America faces increasing pressure from investors, employees, and customers to make good on DEI promises, addressing the gap between manager and employee sentiment is crucial. DEI consultants said that leaders who drive employee engagement around DEI goals will be more successful in their goals.

Why managers feel more engaged

Kerryn Agyekum
Kerryn Agyekum, principal of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice at The Raben Group, a DEI consultancy, said companies need to boost employee buy in on DEI efforts.

For Kerryn Agyekum, DEI principal at consultancy The Raben Group, the findings were not surprising.

Individuals who are largely at the worker or individual contributor level are more likely to be from historically marginalized groups, she explained. Data shows managers and leaders, across a variety of industries, are more likely to be white.

“It’s not surprising that workers, individuals who do not have that power or privilege like managers do, have a very different perspective around whether or not an organization’s diversity, equity, or inclusion efforts are having an impact,” Agyekum said. “They are waiting to see results.”

There will be a gap in sentiment until managers are able to really bring about change in their organizations, the DEI consultant said.

Cynthia Orduña, DEI consultant at consultancy Peoplism, credited the gap in enthusiasm to a communication problem. Oftentimes leaders communicate their DEI efforts to managers, but not to all of their employees, so employees aren’t as up to date, she explained.

Leadership can be very scared to be transparent about what’s going on in the background in terms of new diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives…They’re afraid of not getting things right. Cynthia Orduña

“Leadership can be very scared to be transparent about what’s going on in the background in terms of new diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives,” she said. “They’re afraid of not getting things right.”

If employees aren’t aware of what’s going on, however, they’re more likely to think that their executive team doesn’t care about DEI efforts.

Orduña said that 63% of workers thinking their executives care about DEI was somewhat disappointing.

“It’s more about, how do we get that number to be 75% 85%?” she said. “If a good chunk of employees don’t think their executives care about DEI, that’s a story.”

Managers were also more likely than their direct-reports to say their company has clear channels for participation in DEI efforts. Some 76% of managers said there were distinct ways to get involved, compared to 68% of workers.

Agyekum said that many managers are being tasked with changing their behaviors, reaching new DEI goals, and having new conversations with their employees. They feel there are concrete ways to participate in DEI efforts, she explained.

However, employees may define “concrete ways of participating” differently. They may be waiting to see more people like themselves in positions of power, they may be waiting for their salary to increase as a result of a pay equity report, they may be waiting to be compensated for their ERG work.

“I think the differentiator is in the definition,” Agyekum said. “Managers and workers may define ‘concrete ways of participating in DEI efforts’ differently.”

When asked about the results of their company DEI strategies, respondents gave a mixed range of outcomes:

Increasing employee engagement

In order to increase employee buy-in on DEI efforts, leaders and managers need to drive results, Agyekum said.

Cynthia Orduña's headshot
DEI consultant Cynthia Orduña said managers need to communicate their diversity efforts more to employees.

She explained that a “war room approach to DEI,” where diversity is treated just as importantly as profits, will communicate to employees that diversity is truly a core tenant of a company’s values.

“If you have managers that are doing well on diversity and inclusion, hold them up as the gold standard and reward them accordingly,” the DEI consultant said. “At the same time, hold folks accountable for not making progress.”

At the same time, leaders and managers need to increase the level of communication around DEI.

More leaders need to be vulnerable and share their DEI journey with workers, Orduña said. Keeping employees informed of what’s going on and sharing ways to get involved in the process will drive engagement. Insider’s survey also found that 50% of respondents said their managers are not incentivized to hit DEI goals and/or hire more BIPOC employees. The other half indicated a mix of bonuses and promotions for making more diverse hires.

There’s a lot of strength, I think, in admitting to people that you don’t have all the answers Cynthia Orduña

“You can even say ‘We don’t have all the answers, but we’re going to work as a team to figure it out.'”

In addition to communicating your company’s future plans, it’s important to make sure your employees stay informed on what you’re already doing.

For example, don’t just email once about employee resource groups (ERGS), have ERG leaders speak at company events and send multiple emails about their progress, the DEI consultant suggested. When it comes to new trainings you have, incentivize participation in them and have leaders talk about them in town halls.

C-suite executives should also encourage managers to tell their direct reports about their DEI work.

“It’s about creating mini-cultures that foster inclusion and psychological safety,” Orduña said.

Psychological safety is an environment where people from all backgrounds can feel safe enough to be their whole, true selves at work, without fear of judgment or punishment.

“Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable,” she said.

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The Olympic ban on Afro swim caps – and the backlash it has received – is a huge lesson for business leaders

Swimmer Alice Dearing photographed in a Soul Cap
The Soul Cap, which fits over Afros and thick hair, was banned by the international swimming federation. British Olympic swimmer Alice Dearing is a brand partner with Soul Cap.

  • Soul Cap tried to have its swim caps – which fit over Afros – approved for the 2021 summer Olympics.
  • The governing Olympic body rejected the request, saying it didn’t conform to the “natural” head.
  • Fortune 500 consultants explain why the decision is a teachable moment for other leaders.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Maritza McClendon, the first Black woman to make a US Olympic swim team and a 2004 Olympic silver medalist, vividly remembers the sound of her white teammates in high school and college laughing as she struggled to fit her thick, curly hair into her swim cap.

She’d laugh along with them, but inside, she had an awful, sinking feeling. It was one of many microaggressions she endured over the years.

To be Black and a swimmer, she said, is difficult. And a new ruling by the International Swimming Federation, or FINA, makes it even more difficult.

A company called Soul Cap recently tried to have its swim caps – which fit over Afros, locs, extensions, and thick hair – approved for the 2021 summer Tokyo Olympics. FINA rejected the product, saying the caps didn’t follow “the natural form of the head.” Following swift backlash, FINA is revisiting the ban.

In response to a request for comment, FINA pointed to its latest press release on the matter, which said the federation understood the “importance of inclusivity and representation,” and that it would be revisiting the decision at an undisclosed date. As of this writing, no formal announcement has been made.

“It’s just really disappointing,” McClendon said. “The Olympics is the C-suite of sports. What kind of message does this send? It excludes the diversity the sport so desperately needs.”

In addition to calling the ban “ridiculous” and “racist,” consultants who work with Fortune 500 companies on issues of diversity said FINA’s decision is a learning moment not only for Olympic leaders but also for business leaders.

Corporate America has been engulfed in a racial reckoning ever since George Floyd’s murder in May 2020, and many experts said FINA’s swim-cap ban highlights a problematic status quo. Decision-makers must not only welcome opportunities to be inclusive, these experts told Insider, but also question whom these standards of dress and behavior are serving.

“When we talk about something like the Afro cap not conforming to the ‘natural shape of the head’ – Well, the natural shape of whose head exactly?” said Tiffany Jana, the founder of the diversity, equity, and inclusion consulting firm TMI who works with Fortune 500 companies.

A lesson for all leaders

Maritza McClendon portrait in a pool
Maritza McClendon, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist and the first Black woman to make a US Olympic swim team, said the ban excluded diversity that the sport “so desperately needs.”

The backlash against FINA has been swift.

Soul Cap has spoken out against the ruling, saying it discourages many younger athletes from underrepresented backgrounds from pursuing the sport. And an online petition for FINA to remove the ban has garnered more than 59,000 signatures.

That FINA snubbed the opportunity to be more inclusive is a lesson for business leaders, said Jana, the author of “Subtle Acts of Exclusion.”

Jana, who is nonbinary, called the decision “utterly ridiculous” and “a demonstration of white supremacy.” “What is being stated is that the white standard is normal, that it is best, and that it is what’s acceptable.”

Some writers have said that FINA’s language is reminiscent of phrenology, a pseudoscience from the 1800s involving the measurement of bumps on the skull to predict mental traits. It was used to argue that nonwhite people were inferior because of the shapes of their heads.

Jana said the decision showed a lack of historical and emotional awareness and “overall intelligence.” Kerryn Agyekum, a DEI principal at the consultancy The Raben Group, agreed. Both said it’s no longer OK for leaders to not be aware of how racism has influenced their sector, field, or even company or sport.

Stop policing Black and other nonwhite bodies

There’s a parallel to draw between the ban on the Afro swim cap and the ban, in many professional spaces, of braids, locs, and other ways Black people care for their hair.

Both bans, DEI experts said, are knowingly or unknowingly racist.

“It’s just another expression of how different people, their needs, their expressions, their well-being, and their way of being are not taken into consideration, honored, or privileged,” Jana said.

Oftentimes, the “standard” or “professional” way of doing things – whether in sports or the office – is how white, able-bodied, cisgender, heterosexual people have existed, Agyekum said. The US Army has gone through a reckoning regarding what hairstyles are and aren’t permitted, with new guidelines released this year that allow styles such as cornrows, braids, and ponytails.

The CROWN Act, a bill that prevents workplace discrimination based on one’s hair texture or style, has passed in 11 states, including New York and California. Still, there is no law preventing such discrimination on the national level.

But business leaders shouldn’t wait for the CROWN Act. They should question the status quo, Jana said, and stop policing Black and other nonwhite bodies, or making it harder for them to exist in work spaces.

For example, leaders should reexamine workplace rules around presentation, adjust healthcare policies to include trans and nonbinary people, and make sure their offices are accessible to differently abled people.

“Historically, there was a lack of the ability for Black people to actually swim in pools that were for whites only. Now you have this generation of people who don’t know how to swim for that reason. In the present day, now hair becomes the issue,” Agyekum said. “It’s about exclusion.”

Workplace culture and sports culture can change, Jana said, but only if leaders are willing to put in the work. Take, for example, how women have made gains in the professional world. Many companies now have lactation rooms, offer free menstruation products such as pads, and offer paid parental leave.

“This only happened after we stopped and took a hard pause,” Jana said.

Embrace mistakes to usher in progress

No leader or organization will always get things right, especially when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion. But it’s what leaders do after they make a mistake that defines what they stand for, DEI consultants said.

“You don’t get from institutionalized slavery and racism to any kind of international, global utopia without tripping, without learning,” Jana said. “What I’m interested in now is what FINA does next.”

In order for FINA to be an anti-racist organization, Jana said, its committee should not only withdraw the ban but also issue an apology and commit to a full review of its practices.

“Show me you’re doing the work,” Jana said.

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US intelligence agency’s amateurish Photoshop of a wheelchair user and a blind man onto its diversity report cover backfires

Stock images of a disabled woman and a blind man were added to the image
Stock images of a disabled woman and a blind man were added to the image used on the cover of the ODNI’s diversity report.

  • A US intelligence agency used a stock photo for the cover of a diversity report, The New York Post reported.
  • The image from Shutterstock was Photoshopped to include a blind man and a disabled woman.
  • The images of these two fictional characters were also stock photos from Shutterstock, Insider can reveal.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Office of the Direction of National Intelligence (ODNI), a senior-level agency that provides oversight to the intelligence community, Photoshopped a stock photo of “multi-cultural office staff” for the cover of its annual diversity report, according to the New York Post.

The cover image of the ODNI’s “Hiring and Retention of Minorities, Women, and Persons with Disabilities in the United States Intelligence Community” report was edited to include a blind man with a guide dog and a woman in a wheelchair, Republican political consultant Luke Thompson first noted on Twitter.

The stock photo used in the intelligence agency’s doctored image is titled “Portrait Of Multi-Cultural Office Staff Standing In Lobby” and is available to buy from Shutterstock, the Post said.

Insider can reveal that the images of the wheelchair user and blind man also available to purchase on the Shutterstock website.

Read more: Your phone’s most popular apps are inaccessible to many blind users, and they may not be covered by the ADA.

The image of the woman in the wheelchair is titled “Disabled White Background His Res” on the Shutterstock website.

Stock photo of woman in wheelchair
Stock photo of woman in wheelchair, used by the ODNI.

The other image is titled “Blind Person White Background Images.” It appears that the ODNI changed the color of the man’s suit, from beige to grey.

Blind man stock photo
Stock photo of a blind man, used by the ODNI.

The report, released on Thursday, details the number of professionals working in the intelligence community who identify as minorities or persons with disabilities.

The ODNI did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Amazon is investigating allegations of gender bias in its Prime team after Insider reporting

Whole Foods Prime Amazon bags

Amazon has opened an investigation into its Prime team in the wake of internal complaints about gender bias and a hostile workplace culture for women.

The probe, which coincided with Insider’s reporting last week, suggests Amazon is taking the allegations seriously. The company’s Employee Relations Central Investigations unit told one of the Prime employees who filed a complaint that it was taking ownership of the case, according to an email seen by Insider. The team has asked the person to provide additional information about the issue.

“We appreciate you reporting these concerns and take them seriously,” the email said. “Your concerns will be investigated as appropriate.” An Amazon spokesperson didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Last week, Insider reported on what some employees said was a culture of aggressive male-dominated leadership within Amazon’s Prime unit. Current and former employees described meetings where male leaders used aggressive language toward women. They also said women received fewer promotions than men, and recent internal company data showed only four out of a total of 41 senior leaders under Jamil Ghani, the vice president of Prime, are women.

When contacted earlier this month for comment, an Amazon spokesperson said the allegations did not reflect the culture of Amazon or the Prime team.

“We have worked hard to foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture in which all employees feel supported and successful within the Prime organization,” the spokesperson said, adding that the group aimed to double the number of women in leadership roles in 2021.

The allegations are the latest in a series of public accusations about Amazon’s workplace culture.

In May, five current and former female employees sued Amazon, alleging “abusive mistreatment by primarily white male managers.” In February, Charlotte Newman, a Black Amazon manager, filed a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination and sexual harassment. And last year, a high-profile female engineer called on the company to fix what she said was a “harassment culture,” Insider previously reported.

An Amazon spokesperson said the company investigated the cases, found no evidence to support the allegations, and didn’t tolerate discrimination or harassment.

You can read Insider’s original story here.

Do you work at Amazon? Contact reporter Eugene Kim via encrypted messaging apps Signal/Telegram (+1-650-942-3061) or email (ekim@businessinsider.com).

Read the original article on Business Insider

How the HR chief at Restaurant Brands International holds all of its executives accountable for diversity and inclusion

Jeff Housman
Jeff Housman is chief people and services officer at Restaurant Brands International.

  • Jeffrey Housman is chief people and services officer at Restaurant Brands International.
  • Housman has made DEI a priority. All senior executives are now held accountable for DEI goals.
  • Food service overall has a diversity problem. People of color are often concentrated in lower ranks.
  • This article is part of our “HR Insider” series about HR leaders and their noteworthy strategies.

The value of human resources at Restaurant Brands International has always been “pretty clear” to Jeffrey Housman.

But the pandemic made Housman appreciate even more the “role HR can play in supporting people,” he said.

RBI is a 6,300-person company whose brands include Burger King, Tim Hortons, and Popeyes. About 100 restaurants belong to RBI (most restaurants within RBI brands are owned by franchisees). Housman, RBI’s chief people and services officer, joined RBI from Burger King Corporation in 2016 and has climbed the ranks since. Housman was named one of Insider’s 2021 HR Innovators.

When he took on his current role, in 2019, Housman led RBI in doubling down on its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Now every senior executive is responsible for cultivating DEI and for making RBI a place where all employees can do their best work.

The foodservice industry overall has been criticized for its lack of diverse representation at the top. According to a 2014 report from the Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance, ethnic and racial minorities represent 50% of all hourly employees, compared to 31% of general managers. The report looked at 60 brands, including Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, but didn’t include Restaurant Brands International.

RBI has publicly recognized the challenges. A statement published on RBI’s website in July 2020 read, “We acknowledge that we do not have enough diverse employees in our company and in leadership positions,” adding that, “By openly acknowledging our shortcomings, we are creating urgency for action.”

RBI makes DEI every executive’s responsibility

One of the first DEI initiatives Housman’s team spearheaded was a change to the interview process. RBI hiring managers now ask job candidates in their first interview what diversity means to them, and how they’d champion diversity if they joined the team.

And at least 50% of all candidates in the final interview round must be “from groups that are demonstrably diverse, including race.” This goal is tied to bonuses for the entire leadership and executive team at RBI. Chipotle, McDonald’s, and Starbucks have also said they’re linking diversity targets to executive compensation.

Housman’s team accelerated their efforts to build a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace in 2020, a year in which many business leaders vowed to address systemic discrimination in their workplaces.

RBI released a diversity report that highlighted where the organization was falling short. Leadership, for example, was mostly white and male. Thirty percent of senior leaders were women – an improvement from the year prior – and about 43% of senior leaders were non-white. RBI’s total workforce included 40% women and 47% non-white employees.

Housman’s team led other efforts around inclusion in 2020. Leadership talked about subconscious bias in staff-wide meetings and ramped up training around implicit bias.

Housman is cautiously optimistic that RBI will be able to achieve its DEI goals. “We still have a lot of work to do to get to where we want to be,” he said. “But in 2020 we acted on our D&I strategy and made really good progress.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

CEO of Logitech shares plans for returning to the office, addressing racism and climate change

Bracken Darrell, President and CEO of Logitech
  • Logitech’s tools and accessories played a major role in the global shift to remote work last year.
  • Bracken Darrell, president and CEO of Logitech, told Insider about the process of moving and supporting employees during the transition.
  • Darrell also shared why he feels it’s important to address racism and bias, and climate change moving forward.
  • This article is part of a series about CEOs and their vision for the future called “What’s Next.”

Logitech is one of the largest consumer electronics companies and saw huge success in 2020 with the increased demand for computer tools and accessories to help with the global shift to remote work.

Before joining Logitech in 2012 as president of the company, Darrell led Whirlpool, Procter & Gamble, and General Electric. He added CEO of Logitech to his title in January 2013.

Darrell spoke to Insider about how he ushered Logitech into remote work in 2020 and the company’s return-to-the-office plans for the coming months as the number of administered COVID-19 vaccinations increases. He also spoke on his initiatives around sustainability and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

This interview is lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

Insider: How did you and your teams handle office closures at the beginning of the pandemic? And what types of support were offered to employees to help the transition to working from home?
Darrell: I’d say in the first stage, like everybody else, we tried to give people enough space where we pulled back a lot on the workload because we just didn’t know what was going to happen. We really tried to reduce the workload, and we thought ‘There’s going to be a big learning curve.’

The second thing we started to do was, and this was more informal and probably happened over time, we tried to make fun and laugh about the surprises that happened on video. I have a 19-year-old cat and he began to appear regularly on video. And people’s kids were on video-we just tried to make light of that.

Then we realized, as time went on, people didn’t really have the equipment they needed. So we created a program where… you could go out and buy or order whatever you needed. I think it was $500 and we raised it [over time].

And then we started to see the mental health thing really kick in and people were just stressed. They were stressed and feeling overworked because they were working longer hours. So, we started doing no meetings on Fridays. And then we added one day a month where we gave everybody the day off and we’ve done that ever since. We call them “Logi-Mondays.”

We just keep adding stuff that we think makes sense.

We have one big advantage which is it’s been really rewarding for people that work here because our products played such an important role during the pandemic for students and educators, patients and doctors.

Insider: Are you planning on going back to the office anytime soon?
Darrell: I think we’ll reopen. If I go around the world, we have offices that are already open and have never closed even. But in terms of most of our offices in the US and Europe, we will start to open up in July and then slowly, I’ll be in there too.

We’ll open up like everybody else will, I think we’ll probably have two or three days a week in the office and two or three days a week working remotely, and then we’ll see.

Insider: Is this something Logitech is planning on doing permanently? Allowing employees to build their own schedules of in-office work and at-home work?
Darrell: I was reading Sundar Pichai’s note at Google and thinking that’s pretty much what I think everybody’s doing. Most companies are basically saying, ‘Okay, here’s the framework.’ You know we got some people who are going to work remotely all the time and we’ve always had people who did that-salespeople, some coders, other people. We have another group that is going to be that ‘have to be in the office to do their jobs’-some hardware engineers just don’t have a choice. And then the vast majority are going to be two or three days in and two or three days out.

I think we’ll try to kind of herd everybody into the same two or three days so it feels like a normal office when you’re in. You can bump into people or ideate with people.

But we’re going to wait and see how it goes. I think we’re going to be very flexible.

Insider: Educating the next generation is important, but how does Logitech plan on educating its current employees?
Darrell: I think if you talk to the average employee at Logitech, you get a slightly orthogonal answer to that which is we do have training programs and we try to help people grow. We try to give people freedom-the freedom to do new things and do things a different way.

And it shows up in our internal surveys, we really stand out in that regard, so we’re less about trying to teach people new skills and more about letting people learn new things on their own by giving them new responsibilities or letting them take on responsibilities that are around them. It might sound a little nebulous, but it’s one of the things I’m most proud of in our culture.

Insider: Switching gears a bit. In the weeks after the summer protests broke out, you did a post on LinkedIn sharing how Logitech would address racism and bias. Why was it important for you as the leader of the company to say something?
Darrell: This story is a little longer than you signed up for but I feel like I need to tell it to answer your question.

I grew up in the south with very progressive parents. My mom was as anti-racist as you could be in the time when I was growing up. She was amazing. So we really grew up feeling like we were some of the good guys-my brothers and sister, and I, we were really on the right side of all this and not only this but just generally with LGBTQ [as well].

When George Floyd was killed, it took me a couple of days… I found myself at my kitchen table where I worked every day, just thinking about South Africa and what people were doing then and I don’t know why I started thinking about South Africa. You know, they were sitting there in the middle of apartheid and why didn’t those people speak up? And then I really realized that we’re sitting in American apartheid and I haven’t spoken out. That was incredibly powerful, more for me because I have a platform. I write on LinkedIn and people read it, I have lots of followers.

It was like getting hit in the head with a frying pan, but the pain never went away and it shouldn’t so I immediately started calling friends and apologizing. I just didn’t realize what I’d done, and then it actually changed the direction of my life. I was like ‘Wow.’ I know who I thought I was, but if I’m not doing something… That was the beginning of my very aggressive path to where we are now as an individual and as a company.

Insider: In that same letter, you talked about supporting communities and minoritized groups. What do those actions look like now?
Darrell: We’ve really recentered our whole purpose against these two things which is one we’re already doing and this one we thought we were doing, but we weren’t.

One of them is the environment and the other one is diversity, equity, and inclusion. DEI became a central part of our purpose which was to enable all people to pursue their passions. So that’s been our purpose, but [now,] all people.

Part of the Juneteenth letter is really an explanation of how we’re taking an end-to-end approach from our suppliers’ suppliers, through our suppliers. We have as part of our diversity program through our own company-up and down the company-pay, promotion, everything, all the way through to customer experience and who we target and how we enable it.

That’s where we’ve been and it’s obviously a long-term thing. I want to be held accountable personally and as a company. And I want people to track exactly what we’ve committed and we’ll come back on a regular basis.

And if I’m not doing it and we’re not getting it done [rapidly], I should be fired.

We’re the same on the environment. We’re way ahead on the environment compared to where we are in the US, and we’re making up a lot of ground right now.

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How the first diversity lead at Uber and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign cultivates inclusion at HR tech company Gusto

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bernard coleman
Bernard Coleman III is chief diversity and engagement officer at Gusto.

  • Bernard Coleman III is chief diversity and engagement officer at 1,400-person HR tech company Gusto.
  • Coleman was previously the first diversity lead for Uber and for a US presidential campaign.
  • At Gusto, Coleman spearheaded the RISE program to get employees talking about social justice.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Bernard Coleman III calls HR the “operational glue” that holds together every piece of an organization.

Coleman is the chief diversity and engagement officer at HR tech company Gusto. He was also the first chief diversity and HR officer for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and Uber’s first global head of diversity and inclusion.

He joined Gusto, which employs more than 1,400 people and is valued at almost $4 billion, in January 2020. That was just months before the coronavirus pandemic hit the US and before a widespread reckoning among business leaders around racial inequity. Coleman was tasked with building effective diversity, equity, and inclusion programs and creating an environment where employees could do their best work.

Coleman says HR’s role is to help people have the best possible work experience

Two decades ago, Coleman started his career in politics. When he joined the Society for Human Resources Management as a state affairs specialist, he was inspired to learn more about a career in HR.

“My goal has always been to help people,” he said. He pursued politics because it seemed like the most effective way to reach the maximum number of people. “But in HR,” he said, “you’re almost like this intermediary. A broker, if you will, helping people understand how to have the best possible experience in the workplace.”

Leading a DEI function excites him because he gets to participate in every part of the employee life cycle, which includes recruiting, employee engagement, advancement through the company, and retention. “An effective DEI program needs to be comprehensive in nature,” Coleman said. It must be “interwoven into every aspect of your business.”

DEI work took on new relevance after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. Coleman spearheaded the launch of RISE, which stands for Representation, Inclusion, Social Impact, and Equity. Gusto began hosting weekly conversations in which employees could discuss social-justice issues in a safe space. And Coleman’s team at Gusto has trained hundreds of managers and individual contributors on how to build an inclusive and equitable workplace.

From the first time he meets a prospective hire, Coleman is thinking about how to make them feel like they belong. His favorite interview question is, “What must the organization provide in order for you to do your best?”

The candidate’s answer tells him “what type of environment the person needs to best succeed,” as well as “what type of manager I need to be,” Coleman said. “Ultimately my goal is to contribute to and help empower their long-term success.”

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A Space Force Commander was fired after comments made on conservative podcasts about diversity and Marxism

space force flag
President Donald Trump stands as Chief of Space Operations at US Space Force Gen. John Raymond, second from left, and Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, second from right, hold the United States Space Force flag as it is presented in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, May 15, 2020, in Washington. Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett stands far left.

  • A commander in the US Space Force was fired for comments made during podcast appearances.
  • Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier was promoting his self-published book that claims Marxist ideologies are spreading in the US military.
  • A DOD spokesperson told CNN he was fired “due to loss of trust and confidence in his ability to lead.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A commander in the US Space Force was removed from his position following comments he made on podcasts promoting his new book that claims that Marxist ideologies are spreading in the US military.

Lt Col. Matthew Lohmeier was a commander of a unit responsible for detecting ballistic missile launches, according to a report from Military.com.

During a May appearance on the “Information Operation” podcast, Lohmeier claimed leftist ideologies were spreading throughout US society, including in the media, in universities, in the federal government, and in the branches of the US military.

In an appearance on another podcast, the Steve Gruber show, Lohmeier said: “Since taking command as a commander about 10 months ago, I saw what I consider fundamentally incompatible and competing narratives of what America was, is and should be,” according to CNN.

“That wasn’t just prolific in social media, or throughout the country during this past year, but it was spreading throughout the United States military,” he added. “And I had recognized those narratives as being Marxist in nature.”

According to CNN, when asked for an example, Lohmeier mentioned The New York Times’ 1619 project, which critically examines the legacy of slavery in the US. The project has drawn anger from Republicans who have fought to ensure it isn’t taught in schools.

He also said practices like mandatory diversity and inclusion training, which Republicans have also rejected, create divisiveness in the US, according to Military.com.

Lohmeier was promoting his self-published book “Irresistible Revolution: Marxism’s Goal of Conquest & the Unmaking of the American Military.”

The Department of Defense did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment, but an official confirmed to both CNN and Military.com that Lohmeier had been removed from his post.

“Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, Space Operations Command commander, relieved Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier of command of the 11th Space Warning Squadron, Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, May 14, due to loss of trust and confidence in his ability to lead,” a Defense Department official told CNN.

“This decision was based on public comments made by Lt. Col. Lohmeier in a recent podcast. Lt. Gen. Whiting has initiated a Command Directed Investigation (CDI) on whether these comments constituted prohibited partisan political activity,” the spokesperson told the outlet.

As Military.com reported, the nature of Lohmeier’s new temporary assignment is not clear.

“I was apprised of the option to have my book reviewed at the Pentagon’s prepublication and security review prior to release, but was also informed that it was not required,” Lohmeier told Military.com.

He said he never intended to “engage in partisan politics”

“I have written a book about a particular political ideology (Marxism) in the hope that our Defense Department might return to being politically non-partisan in the future as it has honorably done throughout history,” he told he outlet.

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Ex-Apple employee claims company fired him and knew about his past comments on women, people of color

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Former Apple employee Antonio García Martínez has disputed the company’s account of his departure, claiming on Twitter on Friday the company fired him and that it was aware of the content of his autobiography, which came under fire from employees this week.

“Apple was well aware of my writing before hiring me. My references were questioned extensively about my bestselling book and my real professional persona (rather than literary one),” García Martínez tweeted.

Apple employees earlier this week internally and publicly criticized the company’s decision to hire García Martínez, circulating a petition, first reported by The Verge, calling past comments from his autobiography “misogynistic” and saying his hiring didn’t align with Apple’s stated values around diversity and inclusion.

Hours after The Verge’s story, Bloomberg reported that García Martínez had left Apple.

Apple would not confirm the details of his departure, but spokesperson Tom Neumayr told Insider: “At Apple, we have always strived to create an inclusive, welcoming workplace where everyone is respected and accepted. Behavior that demeans or discriminates against people for who they are has no place here.”

Now, García Martínez is taking issue with Apple’s account of his arrival at, and departure from, the company.

“Apple actively recruited me for my role on the ads team, reaching out via a former colleague to convince me to join,” García Martínez tweeted.

“I did not ‘part ways’ with Apple. I was fired by Apple in a snap decision,” he said, adding “Apple has issued a statement that clearly implies there was some negative behavior by me during my time at Apple. That is defamatory and categorically false.”

Apple employees had criticized García Martínez’s 2016 book, “Chaos Monkey,” according to The Verge, where he wrote statements such as: “Most women in the Bay Area are soft and weak, cosseted and naive despite their claims of worldliness, and generally full of s–t.”

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Apple engineer leaves company after employees speak out about his ‘misogynistic’ past comments

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Apple CEO Tim Cook.

  • Apple engineer Antonio García Martínez has left the company, according to Bloomberg.
  • Employees had spoken out about the hire, citing his “misogynistic” past comments, The Verge reported.
  • They said Antonio García Martínez wrote “racist and sexist remarks” in his autobiography, “Chaos Monkey.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Apple engineer Antonio García Martínez has left the company following employee backlash over his comments about women and people of color, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.

“At Apple, we have always strived to create an inclusive, welcoming workplace where everyone is respected and accepted. Behavior that demeans or discriminates against people for who they are has no place here,” Apple spokesperson Tom Neumayr told Insider.

The Verge reported earlier Wednesday that Apple employees had circulated a petition demanding an investigation into García Martínez’s hiring, citing “misogynistic statements” in his 2016 autobiography, “Chaos Monkey.”

“Most women in the Bay Area are soft and weak, cosseted and naive despite their claims of worldliness, and generally full of s–t,” García Martínez writes in the book, according to The Verge.

“Given Mr. García Martínez’s history of publishing overtly racist and sexist remarks about his former colleagues, we are concerned that his presence at Apple will contribute to an unsafe working environment for our colleagues who are at risk of public harassment and private bullying,” the employees wrote in the petition, according to The Verge.

They also said Apple’s hiring of García Martínez undermines its commitment to its stated values as well as its diversity and inclusion goals, and asked Apple to guarantee García Martínez won’t be involved in “hiring, interviewing, or performance decisions.”

In a rare show of public protest from Apple employees, several took to social media to criticize García Martínez’s hiring.

“It’s so exhausting being a woman in tech; sitting opposite men who think because of my gender, I am soft and weak and generally full of shit,” one Apple engineer wrote on Twitter, referencing the quote from “Chaos Monkey.”

“I have been gutted, as many other folks at Apple were, with the hiring of Antonio García Martínez,” another engineer tweeted.

Apple and other large tech companies have made little progress increasing diversity among their ranks, despite years of public promises – particularly among technical and leadership roles, which tend to pay higher.

According to Apple’s 2020 diversity report, 34% of employees were women, while women held just 24% of technical and 31% of leadership roles. In 2014, women made up 30% of the company and held 20% of technical and 28% of leadership roles.

In 2020, white employees made up 47% of the company overall but held 59% of leadership roles, compared to 55% overall and 64% of leadership roles in 2014.

In recent years, Apple employees, like those at other companies, have also filed lawsuits alleging racial and gender discrimination, as have suppliers.

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