Tru Access Blog - Leadership 101 for White Men

Leadership 101 for White Men; How to work successfully with Black Colleague’s and Customers… that is the title of the book. Not my book, but the title of a book that has recently emerged as the topic of conversation in my social media circle. The book was written in 2008 by Chuck Shelton. I have not read the entire book yet, but I have read the first several pages, so I will preface my commentary by acknowledging that. In the meantime, I’m compelled to share my thoughts based on what I’ve read thus far.

The author is a white male and is thus writing this book from a white male perspective in an effort to help other white males to learn how to better lead and build stronger relationships with black people. Being a champion of Diversity & Inclusion myself, I applaud anyone who seeks to educate others on the values and benefits of this practice and who takes steps to foster a more diverse and inclusive society. I have to admit though, the title threw me. So before I rushed to judgment, I decided I should look a little deeper and see where my man Chuck was coming from. I have to be honest, after delving deeper, I was thrown a little further.

As part of his introduction, Chuck discusses how the term diversity at times made him defensive. His reason for being resistant was that diversity is often used to shame white men for the behavior of their ancestors whether their ancestors were guilty of racial oppression or not. He went on to address the unfairness that is often assigned to white men of being dominant, oppressive, racist and sexist. This is a perspective that I believe is important for us all to understand and that should be discussed openly and candidly. Chuck also went on to acknowledge that many black people may not agree with his POV in this book, but that the reader should not discount his advice based on that because this book was not written for blacks, but rather a book about diversity for “his kind”. C’mon Chuck! This very statement is counter to what Diversity & Inclusion is all about. I also think it’s worth noting that much like Chuck, there is often an emphasis placed (or misplaced) on Diversity without the Inclusion piece.

Here’s the deal folks… Diversity & Inclusion is about just that, Diversity AND Inclusion. Embracing Diversity at every level will only strengthen an individual, organization, team and our society as a whole. Diversity is not just about black & white, it is about individuals who bring a different perspective and way of doing things that you may not have considered. We cant just stop at diversifying an organization either. If you have a group of Black people, Hispanic people, young people, old people or any group that is different than the majority of the organizational culture and you stick them all in a corner somewhere just to check off your diversity box, then you’ll fail. You wont benefit from their unique value and they wont stay long because they wont feel valued, included or a part of the team. Where there is no inclusion there is no commitment. I trust that my man Chuck takes an evolved approach the further I go into the book. At least I hope he does. Embrace Diversity and Promote Inclusion people; you’ll win every time. #NoShortcuts

I’ll have to touch on the whole leadership perspective in another post!