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Ginsberg’s Daring Legacy – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

The announcement of the passing of Chief Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg came during the online services celebrating the Jewish New Year. I could see an old friend on Zoom just put her head in her hands and stay there. I’d seen the announcement a few minutes before services started at sunset so I’d had a brief moment to digest the news. I immediately texted my cousin. We both identify with the description of Ginsberg as “Elder Badass”, having fought our own life-long battles for women. She texted back, “Nooooo!”. Our grief was immediate and we could already hear rumblings of imminent battle.

Jewish tradition holds that someone who dies as the New Year begins is among the most righteous. The Divine holds death back for these souls until the year’s last moment because they’re so needed, driven by the biblical obligation, “Justice, Justice, shall you pursue”.

Continue reading Ginsberg’s Daring Legacy – by Deborah Levine

Corporate Responses to Diversity Challenges – by Marc Brenman

In the aftermath of tragic police violence and subsequent street protests, many US corporations and other organizations have issued ritualistic and formulaic statements declaring their support for Black Lives Matter and decrying racism. What does this mean, and what will they do to follow through? Many of these companies already have diversity programs and are already required to comply with state and federal nondiscrimination laws and regulations. A number of states, cities, and counties have broader non-discrimination prohibitions than the federal government, for example, to include LGBTQ status.

The larger companies employ Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs) or someone with a different title but similar responsibilities. The vast majority of people in these positions are African-American females. Some are male, and some are Hispanic. A few are white females. Almost none of the CDOs are members of the executive teams of these companies. Diversity does not occupy a place similar to core missions, such as production, operations, marketing/sales/ advertising/branding, finance, legal, logistics, supply chain, health and safety, etc. Only a relatively small percent of companies report their diversity demographics publicly, and almost none disaggregate the figures by level of employment, pay grade, responsibility, etc.

Almost none can point to actual improvement in employing/training/promoting people from traditionally discriminated against groups. Some have leapt to providing training on implicit or unconscious bias, even though the concept is a neurological one, and almost no one knows enough about the neurology to accomplish anything about it. In fact, some experts state that if done poorly, such training can excite unconscious bias and bring it out into the open, where it can have bad effects.

At the moment, the diversity expert and training world is reeling from a Trump Executive Order banning most diversity training and programs that engage in what the Order refers to as stereotyping by race and ascribing blame to one race. The Order applies to federal agencies, and by extension to federal contractors and recipients of federal financial assistance. This universe is very large.

As I write this, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) of the US Department of Labor, which oversees federal contractors, is soliciting input on elements of diversity programs at federal contractors that might not meet the requirements of the Order. Executive Order 13950 “notes that materials teaching that men and members of certain races are inherently sexist and racist have recently appeared in workplace diversity trainings across the country” and “invites the public to provide information or materials concerning any workplace trainings of Federal contractors that involve such stereotyping or scapegoating.”

The OFCCP requests to federal contractors and subcontractors is wide-ranging with the following questions:

  • Have there been complaints concerning this workplace training? Have you or other employees been disciplined for complaining or otherwise questioning this workplace training?
  • Who develops your company’s diversity training? Is it developed by individuals from your company, or an outside company?
  • Is diversity training mandatory at your company? If only certain trainings are mandatory, which ones are mandatory and which ones are optional?
  • Approximately what portion of your company’s annual mandatory training relates to diversity?
  • Approximately what portion of your company’s annual optional training relates to diversity?

Corporations often receive awards for their diversity efforts from a variety of self-appointed organizations that “speak” for diversity and equity. When I see such announcements, I often look at the composition of the executive teams of these corporations. About 80% of the time, I find that the executive teams are very undiverse, being composed almost entirely of white men. Sometimes, there is one woman as human resources head. In some companies, there might be one Chinese-American or Indian-American. So these companies are in violation of one of the cardinal rules of diversity initiatives—start at the top and set an excellent example. The actual message is clear: diversity is fine for the underlings, but not for the people at the top.

Another area of contradiction is the argument put forth by diversity experts that diversity is good for company revenues and the bottom line. A number of prestigious foundations and think tanks are complicit in this myth. When I examine the studies that arrive at the diversity return on investment (ROI) argument, I find that the studies have conveniently left out successful firms in IT, Silicon Valley, India, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and China, which are all very undiverse in employees, management, and executives.

A third troubling area of organizations and equity today is that of anti-racism programs. When I ask those in the anti-racism field if they can show quantitative improvements on the ground in anti-racism effects, almost none can. Usually I hear a great silence. In fact, on many criteria of progress and participation in American society, African-Americans have moved backwards—in education, housing, healthcare, employment, and family wealth, for example. Thus, one can legitimately ask about the efficacy of diversity and anti-racism programs and initiatives.

The other core functions of organizations listed above (such as production, operations, marketing/sales/advertising/branding, finance, legal, logistics, supply chain, health and safety) all have to show positive results, or the managers of the efforts will soon be gone, and/or the effort will be reorganized/shaken up. Why should diversity, equity, and anti-racism efforts get a pass, an exemption, or a waiver from rough organizational life? Do we have a problem consisting of lowered expectations, symbolism, and tokenism?

This is not to say that the problem is due to the professionals in these fields. There is plenty of blame to go around, including institutional racism, intransigence, organizational culture, white supremacy, structural inertia, foot dragging, etc. To me, those in the diversity/equity/anti-racism fields need to do some serious soul-searching, thinking, innovation, creation, and classic strategic planning and evaluation. The last is almost entirely lacking in the fields listed. About the only evaluation criteria is “don’t rock the boat.”

I once proposed that members of a corporation’s executive team be cycled through the CDO’s job for six months, and evaluated on firm success criteria, such as increasing the employment of X traditionally discriminated group members by Y% over Z period of time. In corporation parlance, this is calling “making the numbers.” I bet that we would see some surprising improvements in such hiring. Anybody willing to take this bet? Or are folks in the diversity/equity/anti-racism fields willing to slide along in the world of low and no expectations?

ADR October 2020 – Press Release

ADRFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE      October 21, 2020
CONTACT: Deborah Levine   info@diversityreport.com

HEALTH EQUITY AND HEALTHCARE DISPARITIES AMID COVID-19 SPOTLIGHTED IN AMERICAN DIVERSITY REPORT

New Edition Includes Articles, Podcasts, Poems, Black-Jewish Dialogue

CHATTANOOGA, TN – Deborah Levine Enterprises LLC today announced the latest issuance of the American Diversity Report (ADR), an award-winning digital multi-media platform containing the latest news, educational resources and related information highlighting key issues of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the public arena. The theme of the October edition is health, healthcare and equity, as the nation struggles with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic which has already infected over 8 million Americans and killed 220,000.

“COVID-19 is on the rise, our economy is volatile, and an uncertain political environment surrounds the health and wellbeing of Americans,” says Deborah Levine, Editor-in-Chief of ADR and an award-winning author of 15 books. “The diversity of our situation is evident as the pandemic has disproportionally impacted people of color per new infections and higher death rates, as well as glaring disparities in affordable healthcare coverage.”

“This new edition of the American Diversity Report serves as a valuable public resource on critically important topics of DEI during these turbulent times,” adds Levine, who is also a columnist for the Times Free Press newspaper of Chattanooga and was named a “Diversity and Inclusion Trailblazer” in 2019 by Forbes magazine. “We are all linked by our common humanity and concern for our own the health, in addition to the health, wellbeing and healthcare of our families, colleagues and friends – especially as the United States becomes increasingly more diverse in all aspects of public and private life.”

In addition to the timely articles listed below, the October edition also includes poetry and podcast interviews with Natasha Copeland, an African American award-winning veteran journalist with NBC News; and Charlie Buhler, a bi-racial female film director. Also listen to the recording of this month’s Black-Jewish Dialogue on Heath, Healthcare, and Equity. The featured articles by ADR advisors and contributors include the following:

  • BIPOC, COVID-19, and Disparities in Healthcare
  • Diversity and Speech: Health Equity
  • Health Disparities and the Culture of Lack
  • The Surrender of the Medical Superhero
  • Healthy Golden Years
  • Neurodiversity: An Organizational Asset

Deborah Levine is a management consultant, speaker and leading diversity change agent with 33-years of experience. The inventor of the Matrix Model Management System of neuro-communication, she has received the Champion of Diversity Award from DiversityBusiness.com, the Excellence Award from the Tennessee Economic Council on Women, and the Chattanooga Award for Management Consulting.

Levine’s published articles span decades in journals and magazines such as, The American Journal of Community Psychology, Journal of Public Management & Social Policy, The Bermudian Magazine, and The Harvard Divinity School Bulletin. She’s also a syndicated writer for The Good Men Project, a former blogger for The Huffington Post, and has been featured on C-SPAN Book TV. Further information is available online at https://deborahlevine.com/

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BIPOC, COVID-19, and Disparities in Health Care

Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC)

They are traditionally marginalized across all social systems,  but it’s more apparent today than ever due to the devastating effects of COVID-19 on BIPOC communities.  In 2020, BIPOC account for 27.3% of the U.S. population (Census.gov, 2020), yet BIPOC account for 58.1% percent of all COVID-19 cases to-date (CDC.gov, 2020).  Researchers and social scientists point to structural disparities as the main cause of the disproportionate COVID-19 infection rate among BIPOC (Cantos & Rebolledo, 2020; Valenzuela et al., 2020).  The data shows that a consequential proportion of the BIPOC communities are essential or service-related workers with limited or no access to health care, lower socioeconomic and education status, overcrowded housing with limited ability to social distance, and limited or no access to personal protective equipment.  These realities have created conditions where COVID-19 affects every aspect of the BIPOC social constructs.    

Continue reading BIPOC, COVID-19, and Disparities in Health Care

Health Disparities and the Culture of Lack – by William Hicks

Health disparities, i.e., differences in outcomes from disease experiences, are well-described and documented. The statistics that tell us of the incidence and prevalence of diseases within our populations (epidemiology) are readily available. In large measure, the prevalence (the number of cases within a population at any given time of measurement) of heart disease/high blood pressure, cerebrovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, infectious diseases (influenza, pneumonia) are all among the top ten causes of death for all population subgroups (source: Statistica.com).

Continue reading Health Disparities and the Culture of Lack – by William Hicks

Diversity and Speech Part 14: Health Equity – by Carlos Cortés, Adwoa Osei

Completing her second year as a pediatrics professor at the University of California, Riverside, Adwoa was focused on providing clinical training for her medical students.  A retired UCR history professor, Carlos had no way of imagining that he would soon be joining the staff of a medical school.  .

Then the UCR School of Medicine decided to establish a new required curricular thread on Health Equity, Social Justice, and Anti-Racism.  Shortly after that, the School asked Adwoa and Carlos to become co-directors of the thread in order to get it started.

It was decision time for the two of us.  Still at an early stage of her medical teaching career, Adwoa had numerous obligations.  Experienced in health care cultural competence training, Carlos had been giving annual workshops on that topic to UCR’s incoming medical students.  But establishing an entire curricular thread?  That was a challenge.  But also an opportunity.  We couldn’t turn it down.   Continue reading Diversity and Speech Part 14: Health Equity – by Carlos Cortés, Adwoa Osei

QAnon, COVID-19 and conspiracy addiction – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press – August 2020

DEBORAH LEVINE
Editor-in-Chief Deborah J. Levine

QAnon has gone mainstream. This fringe group’s theory that there’s a deep state dedicated to child trafficking, cannibalism, and anti-Trumpism is no longer under the radar. Some point to the successful Georgia primary of QAnon backer, Marjorie Greene, as proof. Others point to President Trump congratulating her and calling her a “Future Republican Star”.  While Vice President Pence tried to counteract Trump’s enthusiasm for QAnon, the fact that QAnon ended up on the front page of The Chattanooga Times Free Press tends to support the mainstream theory.

Continue reading QAnon, COVID-19 and conspiracy addiction – by Deborah Levine

Neurodiversity: An Organizational Asset – by Maureen Dunne, Cathy Schwallie Farmer

neurodiversityIntroduction

We make the case here that neurodivergent thinkers should be an important part of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) policies because every organization stands to benefit from the inclusion of different cognitive perspectives in creating the organization’s culture.

This argument can be made from several different angles. For example, it can be made from the standpoint of a single organization, competing with other organizations in a commercial or industrial pursuit. It can also be made from the standpoint of the larger society, which stands to benefit from more innovative and equitable organizations.

Wouldn’t we all prefer to live in a world that values individuals for the skills and talents each of us uniquely possesses? Wouldn’t we all prefer to live in a world where seeming misfit pieces of the puzzle find a suitable home in the tapestry of the larger machine that is a 21st century economy?

Continue reading Neurodiversity: An Organizational Asset – by Maureen Dunne, Cathy Schwallie Farmer

The Surrender of the Medical Superhero – by Vishnu Unnithan

It was the first day of the new academic term and our batch was bubbling with excitement. Our surgery posting had finally dawned. Now was our chance to step into the operation theatre and watch first hand as surgeons washed up and dutifully, saved lives. When most medical students envision medicine as a career, prior to entering medical school, they more often than not dream about wearing scrubs and operating to the rhythmic beats of all the life support and monitoring machines. Without doubt, the first visit to the operation theatre is one of the most cherished memories of any medical student.

We were assigned to our units and were very warmly received by our senior consultants. Cases were allotted for observation and by rotation, we were even allowed to wash up and assist in the procedures. It was a thrilling experience as we got to take incisions and operate laparoscopic instruments under expert supervision and this led to the birth of an unextinguishable spark that caused many of my colleagues to decide upon surgery as a future career choice.

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Healthy Golden Years – by Milica Kostic

Staying Healthy in Your Golden Years During COVID-19

Retirement is a part of our lives where we look forward to relaxing and enjoying the abundance of extra time.  We have a chance to explore the world, pursue hobbies, and spend time with our grandchildren.

But let’s not forget that the key aspect of having a vibrant and productive retirement means you have to keep your body and mind healthy.

Today, with the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping a high focus on our health is more important than ever. As our older loved ones follow all the necessary precautions to keep themselves safe and healthy, they can also include some additional activities in their routines to help keep their minds sharp and bodies fit.

Continue reading Healthy Golden Years – by Milica Kostic