You may know women who posted #metoo on social media this past week. You may have also thought the movement was started by actress Alyssa Milano. But as is often the case with feminist movements, a woman of color was left out of the conversation she started. Tarana Burke, a Black activist and founder of youth organization Just Be Inc., started the “Me Too” campaign over 10 years ago for women of color who are victims of sexual assault and harassment. Burke explains, “It was a catchphrase to be used from survivor to survivor to let folks know that they were not alone and that a movement for radical healing was happening and possible.” The campaign took off after The New York Times revealed there are a staggering number of sexual assault allegations against influential film producer Harvey Weinstein. Now countless women are posting #metoo to let other women know they are not alone and to illustrate just how prevalent sexual assault and harassment are. Burke calls it “empowerment through empathy.”
Diego Rodriguez, Global Managing Director of design firm IDEO, doesn’t hire for “cultural fit”, that is, how well he thinks someone may get along with him and his colleagues or adjust to the existing company culture. He thinks that approach leads to uniformity, irrelevancy, and a complete lack of innovation. Instead, he hires for “cultural contribution”— the unique viewpoint someone might bring to his company thanks to their own background and experiences. He believes “The more diverse the people in your organization, the more points of inspiration it will contain.” Rodriguez says innovation comes from interdisciplinary collaboration and inviting new viewpoints to crack open old problems. Think about what might result if you leave a social scientist, an engineer, and a business person alone to solve a problem— fresh ideas are bound to develop. In his experience, hiring for cultural contribution forces business leaders to take an honest look at their company’s culture; they learn what makes the culture thrive and what needs to change to move the company forward.
There are somewhere between 100 and 200 schools in the U.S. named after confederate leaders, like Davis Magnet International Baccalaureate Elementary School in Jackson, Mississippi, which is named after Jefferson Davis, the first and only president of the Confederate States of America. The school, serving a student population that is 98% Black, will be changing its name to Barack Obama IB Elementary School in 2018. The high-ranking school will be joining 21 others named after either Barack or Michelle Obama. Most of these schools serve primarily Black students who qualify for free or reduced lunch. Janelle Jefferson, president of the soon-to-be former Davis school PTA, talks about the change, “The school community wanted to rename the campus to reflect a person who fully represents ideals and public stances consistent with what we want our children to believe about themselves.”