On August 4th the White House hosted a Demo Day on inclusive entrepreneurship. President Obama referenced Xerox’s diversity program, known as the Wilson Rule. Named after the founder of Xerox and the Wilson Foundation, the principle promotes diversity by requiring women and minorities to be included in the final pool of qualified candidates for every open management position. Joe Wilson believed in equality and social justice, which he exemplified in his business practices and his personal giving. Some of the earliest grants from the Wilson Foundation, made over 50 years ago, went toward the United Negro College Fund, the NAACP and the National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing.
The I Look Like an Engineer campaign aims to dispel misconceptions about women in engineering, and recently sparked controversy and support. Joe Wilson worked on his equality campaigns in the neighborhoods because that was his reach. Today we can see viral globalization around social progress with hashtags and youtube videos, and other online applications. To tie it all together, Ursula Burns, an African American female engineer, is the CEO of the Xerox Corporation.
How does this relate to our work? The conversation about inclusionary practices in non-profits and philanthropy is not new. But perhaps we need to frame it differently. Maybe we need to rethink who we are and who are clients are. Who do we serve verses who do we need to serve? Or are we putting our clients in silos based on a demographic? Because not all people labeled in by race or religion or sex or profession or educational attainment are alike.
So what can we do personally to change the face of inequality? For one, the engineer campaign attempts to break down stereotypes. No matter how liberal or progressive a person is, there are always some natural generalizations one makes about people or classes or professions or the list goes on. I am not going to pretend I have experienced debilitating inequality; but I have needed to break down conceptions about my gender and my age. So here is my campaign:
I look like an Executive Director
I look like a friend/wife/sister/daughter
I look like a hiker/welder/skier/reader/singer/actor/baker
I look like a woman giving back to a world full of potential