Latinitas Reports from SXSW 2017
Lately, I’ve been hearing the phrase “diversity and inclusion” as it relates to company practices and I hadn’t understood the importance of the second half of that phrase until today. While listening to Candice Morgan, head of diversity at Pinterest, at The Future of Work: How to Innovate with Inclusion, it became clear to me that a lot of people think that diversity means that the dominant race or gender will be at a disadvantage, or that their jobs are at risk if they don’t represent a marginalized community.
Morgan assured her audience that these fears couldn’t be further from the truth. She explained that while Pinterest established the practice of hiring at least one woman and at least one person of an underrepresented background for leadership roles, she had learned that the diversity in the company was causing Pinterest employees of all races and genders to have a heightened sense of belonging and to bring more interesting ideas to the table.
“It’s not just about diversity, it’s about inclusion,” she noted, as the words appeared on large screens behind her.
The lesson rang true as I recalled the words of science fiction screenwriter Jon Spaihts from the March 12 Hacking the Script: Disrupt Diversity in Hollywood panel. As the only white, male panelist, he had a thought-provoking perspective on diversity and his role in Hollywood decision making.
When asked how to disrupt diversity based on his unique position in the entertainment industry, Spaihts said:
“There’s a way in which I think some of the people sitting with me up here can walk into a room and say ‘I think superheroes should look like this, and the story should be shaped like this, and it should be set here’ and when they walk out of the room the executives — who very often look like me — can look at each other [and say] ‘Well that was very interesting, very particular voice there,’ and can discount that argument because of its source. So one thing I can bring to the table, at least, would be a schmuck that looks like them saying ‘No, it really should be set there, it would be way better if it were like this.’”
Spaihts showed an awareness of the lack of inclusion in Hollywood studios and explained how he would use his advantaged role to give a voice to those whose ideas often get dismissed solely because of their gender or racial identities.
To me, it became clear that giving a voice (or a job) to a member of an underrepresented group doesn’t mean silencing or disadvantaging others. It’s not a competition to see who comes out on top — it’s about equality, and making sure that everyone gets a seat at the table.
About the Writer
Ilse Garcia Romero is Latinitas’ Public Relations and Community Engagement Intern. She is a Media Studies graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, with a minor in Mexican American and Latina/o Studies. Learn more about Ilse here.
It’s Not Just About Diversity, It’s About Inclusion was originally published in Austin Startups on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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