Race and Colorism Alive and Too Well

by Andrés T. Tapia –39748906GlobalForum_50_150dpi

(The following article was originally published in Diversity Executive.)

Today, after nearly a decade of denial that race still makes a difference in
the United States, the #BlackLivesMatter movement that emerged in response to the shootings of unarmed black men Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Gardner and Walter Scott is not letting the country sweep race back under the carpet.

But the United States is not the only country that must reckon with the unfinished business of racism. Despite protestations by locals, race and colorism continue to play an inordinate role in social exclusion in Europe, Latin America, and Asia where people are unwilling to admit that skin color still plays a role in marginalizing those of darker hue.

Europe

Europe struggles with a dearth of darker skinned leaders in the corporate world. In various European countries I have worked in and visited, Europeans’ self-image of their own egalitarianism flies in the face of deep housing and social segregation.

This is evidenced by the low-income neighborhoods of North Africans and Muslims surrounding Paris who in the past decade have erupted in violent protest against racial inequality. The Council of Europe just this year released a report titled “France: Persistent Discrimination Endangers Human Rights.” But race is difficult to talk about not only qualitatively but also quantitatively since a law was passed in 1978 that specifically banned the collection and computerized storage of race-based data.

In 2014, according Spanish advocacy group Movement Against Intolerance, of the 1,285 hate crimes reported to police across Spain, 37 percent were motivated by race. In the United Kingdom, the amount of those who self-report that they have some prejudice has risen to 30 percent in 2014 from 25 percent in 2001, according to an article in The Guardian titled “Racism on the Rise in Britain.”

These headwinds must be in play when considering a report by an organization called “Business in the Community,” which focuses on specific aspects of campaigning on diversity. It shows that less than 1 in 15 ethnic minority workers in the U.K. hold a management position.

Asia

According to the 2013 World Values Survey, 43.5 percent of Indian respondents said they would not want a neighbor of a different race and, according to 2014 survey by the National Council of Applied Economic Research and the University of Maryland, 27 percent of Indians still practice caste untouchability, the practice of ostracizing a group by segregating them from the mainstream by social custom or legal mandate.

In a 2013 study by the Institute of Policy Studies and OnePeople.sg, 1 in 2 Singaporean residents do not have close friends from another race, and only 71 percent of Singaporean Chinese believe it is a good thing that Singapore is made up of people of different racial groups. This correlates with the fact that 1 in 10 Indian and Malay respondents (the largest minorities in Singapore) perceived being treated worse than other races when using public and other services.

Latin America

Various Latin American countries will bristle at the notion that racism may be at play in their societies. Yet, there is an unmistakable pattern: The darker one’s skin is, the lower they tend to be on the socioeconomic ladder.

In Brazil, which is about 50 percent black or mixed race, there is a lack of black representation among executives, senior managers, and managers. Spend time in the business district of Faria Lima, and they are not evident. Even at a recent corporate diversity conference by a reputable global diversity and inclusion organization, the highly committed participants from major corporations could not muster racial diversity even in the most token of ways.

Despite protestations that skin color does not matter, why does Brazilian Portuguese have a Crayola-like color scheme with 134 different terms to capture different skin color gradations? These gradations don’t just make for interesting conversation; they make an economic difference.

According to a BBC report, “on average, white and Asian Brazilians earned twice as much as black or mixed-race Brazilians … black Brazilians are much more likely to be poor and rarely reach the top levels of business or politics.”

The Work Ahead

Between the realities of racial profiling on the streets, to rising prejudice and distrust of those of darker skin, and the continued dearth of people of color in leadership positions, where does this leave diversity practitioners? That even as we rightly broaden the definitions of diversity to be about myriad dimensions of difference, race wherever we look — whether we like it — still matters.

TEDxIndianapolis Talk: Why Diversity is Upside Down

by Andrés T. Tapia –

Why is diversity upside-down and how do we with what that means for our lives and our companies? Check out my recent TEDx Talk in Indianapolis, IN. I explore just how much our world’s hyper-diversity has affected practically every aspect of our lives – in our personal relationships, in our communities, and in our companies.

 

 

The Metamorphosis of Global Diversity

iStock_000012215038XSmall.globeflags.purchasedby Andrés T. Tapia –

In recent months, I’ve given in to my global wanderlust. In November, it was immersion in São Paulo, Brazil for our Diversity Best Practices Global Member Conference. In December, it was homecoming, visiting family in my native Peru.

There’s nothing like jet lag, the cacophony of different languages, new and childhood taste experiences, and newspaper headlines not about fiscal cliffs and sequesters to freshen up one’s perspective—and prompt these few thoughts on the state of global diversity today.

Global diversity continues to accelerate its rise in importance and, with that, it’s metamorphosing into something much more multidimensional and unexpected than the first wave of exported Made-in-USA diversity.

Take, for instance, three different invitations I have received in the past six months. The U.S. subsidiary of a Belgium-headquartered company calls asking for help on building out its diversity strategy. Then, a German company calls seeking help with getting its American affiliate to come up with a U.S. response to their global diversity imperative because they are behind their counterparts in Europe and Asia. And last year, a Korean multinational asked me to present to 500 company leaders from all over the world on how they can be more inclusive in the various countries it is expanding to, from Vietnam to India to the USA.  

This is all part of a trend of non-U.S.-based multinational companies making diversity an imperative—not only in their countries of origin but throughout the globe. Now Not-Made-in-USA diversity accountabilities are adding to the rising calls-to-action that an increasing number of American business leaders are facing regarding diversity and inclusion.

This is just one way in which diversity is changing globally. A few others:

  • To be a woman is to be rising in opportunities. Women’s advancement is the most frequently cited diversity issue today. It’s the one global diversity issue that arises on all continents as the common and urgent issue we must address now. The challenges are often the same regardless of country. From Chicago to Shanghai, women are pressing to fulfill their ambitions for leadership positions and a growing number in profit and loss roles. And women, at all levels of the organization, no matter where in the world, yearn, fret, and fight for work life flexibility.
  • Socioeconomic disparities are masking the realities of colorism. The United States isn’t the only country facing race and class disparities. In a host of countries, societies are stratified based on one’s economic status. Yet, in countries such as India, Brazil, and Peru those with darker skin are more likely than their fairer counterparts to be members of the lower socioeconomic classes. This is far from a coincidence. While there’s a great deal of denial about this reality, it’s true that in many countries a preference for those of a lighter hue is blocking access to educational and employment opportunities for a significant percentage people. Until countries where colorism prevails recognize the impact of this form of discrimination, companies in these countries will continue to struggle to have true diversity in the workforce.
  • Millennials are civilization’s first global cohort. Whether they grew up in South Africa, Egypt, Romania, Laos, or Venezuela, many members of this generation shared the reality of growing up digitally and interconnected to the rest of the world. Global terrorism, global recession, global warming, and global social media have meant a common experience in many formative ways of how the world works. When a billion go “Gangnam Style” around the world in a matter of weeks, when the Arab Spring inspires Occupy Wall Street (and not vice versa), and when the Twitter-nation transcends all borders with 500 million users (making it the third largest population in the world), an unprecedented shared upbringing across the world’s 24 time zones is in the making.
  • Employment gains for people with disabilities. While in the United States the Americans with Disabilities Acts made it the law to make workplaces physically accessible to those with disabilities, there is a growing global trend to actually make it the law to employ those with disabilities. Brazilian law stipulates that depending on the size of your employee base, 2 percent to 5 percent of your workers must be people with disabilities. On Christmas Day 2012, a similar law went into effect in Peru. And in the United States, the Federal Government has put into place guidelines that those doing business with the government must have 7 percent of employees be people with disabilities.
  • LGBT rights on the march. The wall of resistance around LGBT rights is tumbling in countries across the globe. In 2009, the high court in New Delhi, India struck down the law that made same-sex sexual activity illegal. In 2010, Mexico City and Argentina legalized same-sex marriage while Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Uruguay all started to recognize same-sex relationships, such as civil unions. This is an enormous gain for the LGBT community in Latin America, which has long been characterized by its strong Catholic roots and machismo undertones. And putting an exclamation point on the importance of worldwide LGBT rights, in 2011, President Barack Obama and then Secretary of State Hilary Clinton announced that LGBT rights would be a criteria for whether a country will receive U.S. foreign aid.

Just a few examples of how diversity and inclusion are playing out globally. This trend is unstoppable. Next generation diversity practitioners would be wise to track and then ride these trends for the good of their organizations.

When’s your next trip to another land?

Diversity Fast Facts — Immigration

Diversity Fast Facts – Hip Pocket Stats for the CDO on the Go

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Every once in a while, I’ll publish Diversity Fast Facts on different topics to provide Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs) on the Go with stats and information they can use to reinforce the realities of diversity and inclusion. It’s my intention that these news abstracts will add to the conversation and encourage our thinking about how diversity plays out around the world. Here, we look at global immigration trends.

  • The world’s population is on the move. Following are global trends: The largest population of contractual migrant workers comes from Asia. In Asia, movement within China and India accounts for large population shifts. The predominant trend in the Americas is migration from the south (Latin America and the Caribbean) northward and even into Europe. The United States and Canada tend to host permanent migrants, but increasingly need temporary workers. In Oceania, Australia and New Zealand play host to growing populations of migrant workers from smaller islands. Source: International Organization for Migration.
  • The United States is home to more migrants than other countries. The United States was by far the largest host country for migrants in 2010, hosting 42.8 million migrants. Following the United States: Russian Federation (12.3 million), Germany (10.8 million), Saudi Arabia (7.3 million), and Canada (7.2 million). Top three sending countries: China (35 million), India (20 million), and the Philippines (7 million). Source: International Organization for Migration.
  • Migrant workers are a diverse lot. Other quick facts regarding immigration: three percent of the global workforce consists of immigrants; one-third of the world’s migrant workforce lives in Europe; women migrants focus primarily on short-term work and tend to go to the Middle East; industry, construction, and services are the leading industries for migrant workers; some countries in the Gulf region consist of up to 40% migrant workers. Source: International Organization for Migration.
  • The number of workers in India and China is growing. By 2030, it is projected workers from India and China will account for 40% of the world’s workforce. Source: International Organization for Migration.

Peru Election 2011: Peru’s Poor Make Their Voices Heard

by Andrés T. Tapia –

This article was published by the New America Media

PeruElection_humala_500x279

No to trickle down economics. No to corruption. No to human rights abuses.

These were the electoral reasons why the Peruvian public elected Ollanta Humala, 49, as their 94th President, marking the sixth consecutive peaceful transfer of power since 1980.

In sending Keiko Fujimori to defeat, a very narrow majority of Peruvians indicated they were more troubled by her filial links to her father, former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori who was imprisoned for corruption and human rights abuses, than with Ollanta’s two failed insurrections against democratically elected governments.

In fact, for many voters, these rebellions were seen as bona fides for his willingness to take matters into his own hands to bring about change. Those more ambivalent about this recent past were able to put their fears at bay either through wishful thinking, hope, or real belief that Humala’s radical, Hugo Chavez-like ways from five years ago were merely a phase, and that there was real substance to his recast image as a reasonable non-radical who could address the needs of the destitute poor without pitting them against the rich.

This is the first time in 40 years, since the Cuban-Revolution-inspired military coup of Gen. Juan Velasco Alvarado under which I grew up, that a leftist president will be ruling Peru. The big question is whether it will be in the mold of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, or that of Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The first would deeply and destructively divide the country. The second, which simultaneously and successfully made the poor a priority, while stimulating the economy, would be transcendent.

Key to Humala’s win was the full endorsement of Alejandro Toledo, former Peruvian president, who was originally one of the first round candidates in the presidential election. True to the twists and turns of Peruvian politics, one of Humala’s insurrections was against then-President Toledo.

While the recurring story lines of the election campaign were the Fujimori family’s disgrace and the radical past of Humala, the most profound back story was that Peru’s poor — heavily represented in the rural areas and outside the power center of the capital in Lima — decided Peru’s new President.

Despite the fact that in the last five out of six years Peru’s GNP grew at a steady 8% annually, making Peru a much richer country that could invest in infrastructure that brought in foreign investment, nurtured local industry, and helped make Peru a global tourist magnet, many of Peru’s poor have been left behind.

While it’s true that the poor of Peru have seen their numbers drop, from 50% of the population to 30% during the economic boom, Sunday’s vote declared that it is still unacceptable that one-third of the country is below the poverty line of $2 a day in earnings. Peru’s prosperity should be beneficial for all Peruvians, their vote proclaimed.

They believed Ollanta Humala, the maverick outsider with no links to the elite in Peru, the United States, Europe, or Japan, would be the one who would deliver. But there are jitters that his nationalistic, populist ways will derail the Peruvian economic miracle of the past few years.

His immediate top priority between now and his inauguration on July 28th, Peruvian Independence Day, will need to be calming nervous investors and markets, assuring them that his promises for the poorest of the poor can be fulfilled, while still nurturing the long Peruvian boom. This should not be difficult to do, at least rhetorically.

Already, some of those who did not support him are working on reassuring themselves that Humala will do right by the markets. As a commentator said on Panamericana TV, “There is no appetite to mess around with prosperity. Not even Humala is going to want to do that.”

Still, there is a significant amount of apprehension about whether he has a hidden agenda against the powers that be. And so when the stock market opened on Monday, it dropped 12.5%, the biggest one-day drop in its history, before regulators closed the market down.

Keeping a close eye will be his defeated rival. At 36-years-old, and having won nearly half the vote (she lost by just a few percentage points), Keiko Fujimori will remain a force to be reckoned with for some time to come.

But for now, this is Humala’s moment. As he addressed his supporters in his victory speech around midnight in rolled-up shirt sleeves and no coat and tie, on a stage that jutted out into the crowd at Plaza 2 de Mayo, he laid it out plain and simple. Without thundering against the elite, and without specifics, his message was all about the poor’s plight — lack of potable water, electricity, education, nutrition, health and living wages.

The poor have spoken. This is their man.

Keiko Fujimori Loses Peru’s Election, But Diversity Message Struck a Chord

by Andrés T. Tapia –

This article was published by the New America Media.KeikoFujimori_500x279

Keiko Fujimori lost Peru’s presidential election Sunday. But don’t expect the dynamic, if difficult, Keiko–age 36, female, Gen Xer, of Japanese descent, mother of two toddlers, spouse of an American and daughter of a former president, who is now incarcerated–to fade into the shadows of Latin American politics.

Keiko–as she’s known universally in Peru–has been the candidate of the unexpected and a force that likely altered Peruvian national politics for years to come.

At the presidential debate last week with her second round opponent–and Peru’s new president–Ollanta Humala, her opening statement had a greeting in Quechua–the language of the descendants of the Incas in the Andes of Peru. And her closing statement concluded with sign language.

What’s more, Keiko appealed to the youth vote by laying out her “Mi Primera Chamba”–My First Gig–scholarship program and to the Mom vote by promising to create nutrition programs and quality education for children.

This is not just typical political pandering in Peru, but stem from who Keiko is. She allowed TV hostess Magaly to come to her home. After they chatted like two girlfriends, she gave Magaly a tour of her middle-class home. Along the way she showed off Peruvian Andean landscape paintings her imprisoned father has done in jail, and then the pair ended up in Keiko’s kitchen, where she expertly chopped vegetables for that evening’s dinner.

Defying Expectations
Keiko–as everyone calls her–has become adept at presenting herself in visuals that defy traditional expectations.

When her parents split up in a bitter divorce during her father’s presidency, Keiko, then age 19, officially became First Lady to fill in for her exiting mother’s responsibilities.

Despite ample opportunities to go anywhere for college, she headed to Boston University to earn a degree in business administration. She returned married to Mark Vito, an U.S.-born IBM consultant, who did not speak Spanish.

Without a hint of self-consciousness, Keiko projected her Japanese visage on big screens at political rallies surrounded by a sea of dark-skinned indigenous Peruvians. Though her roots are Asian, she appealed to them as one of them, her racial minority physical features presenting a kindred-outsider status to the marginalized people of Peru–just as happened when her father ascended to power.

The elements of her biography don’t merely translate into images defying the status quo; they drive her fusion of a right-of-center and a populist political platform. Her ease with crossing socioeconomic and racial barriers has influenced a right-brain/left-brain, left-wing/right-wing heterodoxy that is both pragmatic and passionate.

Despite deeply held reservations by many Peruvians about her filial links to her father, jailed for corruption and human rights abuses, Keiko’s implicit and explicit diversity and her messages of inclusion, helped propel her into the second and final electoral round having beat out another former president, Alejandro Toledo, and a successful former minister of finance and economy, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski–a graduate of both Oxford and Princeton Universities, no less.

Presidential Candidate Mom
Keiko was also nearly the first Latin American female president with young children and, therefore, the first high-profile role model for work-and-family flexibility. As is typical of middle-class Peruvians, she has live-in childcare help. But her fluid movement in and out of her roles as leader and mother seems remarkably seamless.

After the first-round election results were announced and Keiko was declared one of the two finalists, Keiko handled her press conference with ease.

Afterward as she exited through the phalanx of journalists, her 18-month-old, Kaori Marcela, straddled in her left arm, Keiko took impromptu questions shouted out by journalists. As the child began to fuss, she switched from potential president of Peru to attentive Mom. With a smile, Keiko said, “Ok, it’s time–got to go.”

And with no apology, she left. Whatever else may come for Keiko, that’s what her multicultural country folk will remember. Keiko–young, centered and, without apologies, very much herself.

Now in her loss, she must plot out her next career move while Dad sits in jail with no chance of a pardon and her children continue to make their toddler demands. Meanwhile, she will watch as her rival takes the reins of the future she had been so certain was destined to be hers. 

She has time – a lot of it – to let things play out. Five years from now Keiko’s Magical Diversity Tour still likely to be fueled up and waiting for her to lead the way.

Peru Election 2011: Keiko Fujimori’s Magical Diversity Tour

by Andrés T. Tapia –

This article was published by the New America Media.

KeikoFujimori_500x279Keiko Fujimori–age 36, female, Gen Xer, of Japanese descent, mother of two toddlers, spouse of an American and daughter of a former president, who is now incarcerated–may be Peru’s next president.

If chosen in Sunday’s election, Fujimori would be Peru’s first woman president and one of four today in Latin America—and one of only seven in the region’s history. Like Laura Chinchilla in Costa Rica, Cristina Kirchner in Argentina and Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, her gender will influence her agenda. But so will her youth.

At the presidential debate last week with her second round opponent, Ollanta Humala, her opening statement had a greeting in Quechua–the language of the descendants of the Incas in the Andes of Peru. And her closing statement concluded with sign language.

What’s more, Fujimori appealed to the youth vote by laying out her “Mi Primera Chamba”–My First Gig–scholarship program and to the Mom vote by promising to create nutrition programs and quality education for children.

This is not just typical political pandering in Peru, but stem from who Fujimori is. She allowed TV hostess Magaly to come to her home. After they chatted like two girlfriends, she gave Magaly a tour of her middle-class home. Along the way she showed off Peruvian Andean landscape paintings her imprisoned father has done in jail, and then the pair ended up in Fujimori’s kitchen, where she expertly chopped vegetables for that evening’s dinner.

Defying Expectations
Keiko—as everyone calls her—has become adept at presenting herself in visuals that defy traditional expectations.

When her parents split up in a bitter divorce during her father’s presidency, Keiko, then age19, officially became First Lady to fill in for her exiting mother’s responsibilities.

Despite ample opportunities to go anywhere for college, she headed to Boston University to earn a degree in business administration. She returned married to Mark Vito, an U.S.-born IBM consultant, who did not speak Spanish.

Without a hint of self-consciousness, Keiko projects her Japanese visage on big screens at political rallies surrounded by a sea of dark-skinned indigenous Peruvians. Though her roots are Asian, she appeals to them as one of them, her racial minority physical features presenting a kindred-outsider status to the marginalized people of Peru–just as happened when her father ascended to power.

The elements of her biography don’t merely translate into images defying the status quo; they drive her fusion of a right-of-center and a populist political platform. Her ease with crossing socioeconomic and racial barriers has influenced a right-brain/left-brain, left-wing/right-wing heterodoxy that is both pragmatic and passionate.

Despite deeply held reservations by many Peruvians about her filial links to her father, jailed for corruption and human rights abuses, Keiko’s implicit and explicit diversity and her messages of inclusion, helped propel her into the second and final electoral round having beat out another former president, Alejandro Toledo, and a successful former minister of finance and economy, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski—a graduate of both Oxford and Princeton Universities, no less.

Presidential Candidate Mom
Keiko would also be the first Latin American female president with young children and, therefore, the first high-profile role model for work-and-family flexibility. As is typical of middle-class Peruvians, she has live-in childcare help. But her fluid movement in and out of her roles as leader and mother seems remarkably seamless.

After the first-round election results were announced and Keiko was declared one of the two finalists, Keiko handled her press conference with ease.

Afterward as she exited through the phalanx of journalists, her 18-month-old, Kaori Marcela, straddled in her left arm, Keiko took impromptu questions shouted out by journalists. As the child began to fuss, she switched from potential president of Peru to attentive Mom. With a smile, Keiko said, “Ok, it’s time–got to go.”

And with no apology, she left.

Peru Election 2011: Democracy’s Faustian Choices

by Andrés T. Tapia —

This article was published by the New America Media.

peru_election_500x279

On Sunday, June 5, I will join thousands of expat Peruvians at St. Agustin College in Chicago to vote in the second and final electoral round in choosing the next president of Peru.

The collective mood of Peruvians is highly apprehensive about what’s next, despite–or perhaps because ofthe country’s substantial eight percent growth in gross national product in five of the last six years. That is among the highest in the world.

Sunday’s election is where the red-hot issues of race, gender, age, imprisonment, insurrection, poverty and economic boom will be shaken in a volatile political cocktail.

The choice between Keiko Fujimori and Ollanta Humala has come down to two candidates with a lot of potentially problematic baggage. Keiko is the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori who is serving multiple multiyear sentences in a maximum-security prison in Lima, convicted of corruption and human rights abuses.

Ollanta led two failed insurrections in the Andes against democratically elected governments, and his father espouses an indigenous nationalistic ideology that borders on reverse racism.

These are not the kind of pedigrees that inspire change Peruvians can believe in.

Below the Surface
Yet…Yet, as is often the case in surrealistic Peru, what is on and below the surface, confounds logic. And unexpected turns of events can be equally damming or redemptive. Both candidates are exercising considerable effort to cut the binds of their political past.

In the final debate last Sunday between the two, Fujimori did her best to paint Humala as a destabilizing force, but he held his ground as someone who has recast his persona–aided by Brazilian political consultants–as a man of reason, rather than as a firebrand revolutionary.

And try as Humala did to link Fujimori to the corruption that had led to her father’s imprisonment, she stopped him in his tracks by asserting that Humala had spent most of his time debating the wrong person. “I am the candidate, not the man who is sitting in prison.” The sins of the fathers, she insisted, should not be visited upon their offspring.

While many Peruvians are willing to give Fujimori this pass–as she leads in the polls by about four percentage points but with a very large percentage of undecided voters– many are not.

Bitterness still surfaces at what many consider betrayal on the part of Alberto Fujimori, who arguably could have gone down in history as one of Peru’s greatest presidents after he tamed hyperinflation, defeated two terrorist movements, and laid the foundation for Peru’s sustained economic boom.

His downfall?

Whether it was willingly or coerced, Fujimori entered a Faustian pact with Vladimiro Montesinos, his head of DINCOTE, the Peruvian secret service. Montesinos bribed politicians, generals, TV station owners and journalists with bundles of cash, while he lead a brutal, no-holds-barred war against terrorism.

After separate fugitive escapes to other countries both men were dramatically captured and ended up in the same prison convicted by Peruvian courts on multiple counts. As befitting of a Latin American novel, they were initially incarcerated in  the same jail holding Abimael Guzman, the Peruvian Osama bin Laden. Through his Shining Path movement, Guzman had unleashed real and psychological destruction on Peruvian society. He had heroically been captured under the leadership of his current prison mates.

Terrorism, Torture and Human Rights
So it is that Peruvian society is highly polarized about Keiko Fujimori’s father in a way echoing the U.S. debate around whether torture– along with its the suspension of human rights– is justifiable when facing nihilistic terrorists willing to kill anyone and everyone.

But it wasn’t the human rights debate that sunk Peru’s first president of Japanese descent. Most Peruvians, who lived the sheer terror of Guzman’s Shining Path, with its car bombs and massacres, were willing to make their own Faustian deal by looking the other way as Fujimori’s regime put an end to the Shining Path’s madness–but only by responding in kind.

No, what did Fujimori in for many Peruvians, was the blatant bribery conducted in the name of a leader, who had established a new pragmatic, non-ideological paradigm for bringing about change.

It was under Fujimori that the longstanding practices of massive disregard for paying taxes came to an end, as he prosecuted many of the nonbelievers in paying state tribute.

Even as people were pissed off at having to pay taxes, grudging respect became growing respect for a president, who made it clear that there were rules all–with no exceptions even among the elite–had to follow.

As Peruvians got in line with the country’s new path, state revenues grew and were put into transformational use, building thousands of schools, kilometers of highways, electrical grids and water systems.

That the exemplar of rectitude had under his nose one of the most blatant bribery campaigns the country had ever seen was unforgivable.

It’s forgiveness, however, that’s on Keiko’s mind–or more accurately, a pardon. It’s no secret that she does not believe innocent people should be in jail and since she insists her father is not guilty, she would likely pardon him.

While Peruvians debate the limits of forgiveness, Ollanta offers another test.

His first presidential campaign five years ago when he lost to Alan Garcia was partially bankrolled by Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. His policies are antithetical to the free market economic programs that have reduced extreme poverty in Peru from 50 percent to 30 percent. Massive foreign investment in Peru has fueled the economic transformation.

Still, that leaves one-third of the country in abject poverty, a damning metric. It is this proportion of the population that has declared trickle down a fiction and see in Humala someone who will plead their cause regardless of his history of insurrection or suspect influences. They are willing to make this Faustian tradeoff.

For Ollanta, though, Chavez’s well documented ambition to extend the Cuban Revolution into modern day Venezuela–and his eagerness to influence other parts of South America via Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa–are the very things that may make enough Peruvians turn away from him and look the other way, yet again.

If so, they in turn will cast their own Faustian vote that may indeed free Alberto Fujimori, as the price for hopefully preserving the economic boom.

Connecting Hispanics and Corporate America: Take Five with HACR’s Carlos Orta

by Andrés T. Tapia —

CarlosOrta

As president and CEO of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), Carlos Orta leads an organization with a bold, yet simple-to-understand mission, “to ensure the inclusion of Hispanics in Corporate America at a level commensurate with our economic contributions.”

His background is well suited to leading this charge, having served in several capacities for major corporations such as Anheuser-Busch and the Ford Motor Company, and as a legislative staffer in the Florida House of Representatives. Under Carlos’ leadership, HACR has initiated programs, conducted studies and papers, and championed Hispanics and our impact on the economy, philanthropy, and corporate governance. As a result, Carlos and HACR have become the authority on Hispanics and corporate responsibility.

During our frequent travels, I often run into Carlos at various conferences. We recently caught up with each other, and as HACR celebrates its silver anniversary, Carlos agreed to share his thoughts about the organization and its 25 years.

Take 1: You often refer to the mission of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR) as having four pillars. What are those pillars, and why are they important?

HACR works with its corporate partners, stakeholders, elected officials, and community leaders to provide them with the expertise and tools necessary to ensure the inclusion of Hispanics in our four areas of corporate social responsibility and market reciprocity. Those four areas are employment, procurement, philanthropy, and governance.

With over 50 million consumers, Hispanics represent 16% of the population in the United States, including Puerto Rico, and have an estimated annual purchasing power of $1.2 trillion or 9.6% of the US GDP.

For HACR and the Hispanic community, a company’s reputation and goodwill is based on its ability to promote reciprocity in all areas of the company’s business model. To ensure the continued support and patronage of the Hispanic community, a company should strive to employ Hispanics, contract with Hispanic-owned businesses, support Hispanic-serving organizations, and utilize Hispanic talent to lead its operations in roughly the same proportions that Hispanic consumers support the company.

Take 2: Even though HACR’s mission is targeted toward corporations, its Board of Directors is made up of leaders of different Latino advocacy groups that are not necessarily in the business world. How well does it work for Latino advocacy groups to play an important role in influencing corporations to seek and develop Latino talent?

It works very well. And it works because they have a direct link to more than 50 million Latino consumers.

Collectively, the coalition members reflect the voice of Hispanics living in the United States and Puerto Rico, serving those diverse communities through advocacy, education, representation, assistance, capacity building, public policy support, resource development, and the exertion of political influence. HACR Coalition Members work with more than 1,500 affiliate community-based organizations serving the Hispanic community in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, including more than 450 institutions of higher learning enrolling three out of every four US Hispanic college students, and 400 publications with a combined circulation of more than 10 million.

Take 3: U.S. immigration reform is currently a polarizing issue. How important is resolving the immigration issue to the mission of HACR?

HACR does not deal directly with immigration or policy matters related to immigration reform; however it does affect our Coalition members. We rely on our Coalition members to drive the immigration discussion. They are the experts and the leaders on this front. Regardless of one’s immigration status, you are still a consumer – and one that over indexes on a variety of products and services.

Take 4: It is commonly predicted that Latinos will comprise a quarter of the U.S. population within the next generation. What are the greatest economic opportunities that these increased numbers will make possible for Latinos, and what vulnerabilities within the Latino community do you remain most concerned about?

Latinos are the fastest growing and youngest population in the United States. As the Baby Boomer generation retires, tomorrow’s workforce will be made up of Latinos. In addition, as Fortune 500 companies make geographic shifts, they are relocating into areas that have a higher Latino population (South, Southwest and West Coast).

Given our population and buying power, these corporations should see the value of recruiting, retaining and advancing Latinos at all levels of their corporate structures.

While Hispanics represent over 16% of the total US workforce, we continue to be underrepresented in the leadership of major U.S corporations. According to our own HACR 2010 Corporate Inclusion Index (CII) Survey, of the 1,191 board of director seats at Fortune 100 companies, only 3.6% of the seats were held by Hispanics.

In a recent review of Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 Boards between 2004 and 2010, findings show there are still big gaps to fill and much opportunity for minority inclusion. HACR continues to be an advocate of inclusion and seeks to provide the tools and assistance to those who want to develop their leadership skills.

Take 5: HACR just celebrated its 25th anniversary in DC. What do you believe is the organization’s greatest accomplishment so far, and what is your vision of what its greatest accomplishment will be 25 years from now?

A quarter of a century after it was founded, HACR’s mission is at its most critical and relevant in the organization’s history. Since the organization’s inception, which came at a time when Ronald Reagan was president and Michael Jackson moon walked his way into the American psyche, Hispanics have grown exponentially into the largest minority in the country. And yet, hard work remains to be done, and HACR has geared itself into a future-oriented institution.

Throughout the last 25 years, HACR has been the catalyst for change in Corporate America by staying true to its mission to advance the inclusion of Hispanics at a level commensurate with their economic contributions. We have developed programs specifically to provide a platform to talk with and nurture talent for executive boards, C-suite positions and upcoming executives. These programs include the HACR Corporate Directors Summit, The Corporate Executive Forum™, the HACR CEO Roundtable, and the HACR Young Hispanic Corporate Achievers™.

The goal for HACR in 25 years will be that we will have achieved our mission. And for those companies that didn’t get it, that didn’t understand the value of including Hispanics at all levels, they will lose out on two fronts: our financial and intellectual capital.

Connecting Diversity to Space Design: Take Five with Gensler’s Tom Mulhern

by Andrés T. Tapia —

Tom Mulhern (left) works with a client, Mr. Davidson (right) of the CHA.

Tom Mulhern (left) works with a client, Robert Davidson (right) of the Lathrop Homes Local Area Council.

Tom Mulhern works at the intersection of people, space, and technology. As Strategic Planner for Gensler, he consults with clients and design teams to identify and create contexts for great design. As he has consulted with several companies about the accessibility and sustainability of their workplaces, unexpected synergies have come into play. The challenges and opportunities that the workplace presents Tom, as a space designer, raise issues of diversity and inclusion. After we had the pleasure of working together, Tom agreed to discuss his insights about workplaces in this Take Five interview.

Take 1: Educate us about your world – the transformation of the workplace. How would you characterize the differences between what it was a generation ago and what it is becoming today?

Today for most organizations that employ knowledge workers – in the US and worldwide – the workplace, as a distinct, physical location, has become optional. What was once the only way to organize complex work and workers is now something organizations and leaders can choose (or not) depending on what they want to achieve. The technology to do this has arrived, in the form of “The Cloud” and the always-connected mobile device. And the workers themselves, at school and at home, have spent the past 15 years rehearsing the multi-tasking, time-shifting, results-seeking required to make a flexible workplace work. Add to this the “new normal” of a cost- and resource-constrained global economy, and we find that almost every Gensler client is seeking to implement virtual and flexible office strategies. 

But optional is not the same as obsolete. Just think of how often we still use paper and pen, postal mail or your landline phone. So, if a dedicated, permanent physical workspace is no longer a necessity, why might organizations choose it – at least for some processes, at least some of the time?

Some reasons to be present physically include,

  • Mentor and learn from others
  • Really get to know colleagues and be known by them
  • Connect to and be inspired by organizational mission, vision and values
  • Make serendipitous connections to people and ideas (“water cooler”)
  • Convey seriousness, scale and professionalism to customers
  • Get access to scarce resources – production equipment, labs, etc.

There are also compelling reasons to work from wherever,

  • Integrate work more effectively into life (good for individual, recruiting tool for organization)
  • Support the global work day (up in the morning with Europe, late to bed with Asia)
  • Preserve organizational security – distribute operations to reduce risk from disaster or terror
  • Save costs and carbon associated with real estate (organization)
  • Save time, expense and carbon of commuting (individual)
  • Learn to use the communication technologies required for successful innovation (individual and organization)

So the idea is not to minimize real estate, but rather to maximize presence. When people are physically present, are they doing the things in the first list? Is the physical environment optimized for the goals? If your organization is still defaulting to the physical workplace, are you aware of the potential embedded in the second list?

Take 2: Changing demographics and lifestyles have driven many of these workplace differences. Can you elaborate on the connection between changing demographic groups/ lifestyle needs and space design changes?

The drivers are more psychographic than demographic. They are largely keyed to life stages and lifestyles, not particular generational tendencies. For instance, the generation most prepared to work this way – the fabled Millennials – is not necessarily the one best served by flexible work arrangements. Millennials entering the workforce need connection to organizations, mentors, and inspiration. They are most prepared to thrive in a social, embodied physical workplace. By contrast, flexible work arrangements are more appropriate to mid-career workers with family or civic commitments, and to later-career workers who are seeking to reduce, but not eliminate, the role their professional identity plays in their lives. The two biggest conceptual victims of the Optional Office may be the “Mommy Track” and “Retirement.” Both of these notions are grounded in a time when physical presence was an all-or-nothing proposition.

Take 3: I’ve shared with you and members of your firm how much U.S. corporate firms are influenced by a white, Anglo-Saxon, individualistic aesthetic, and how it runs counter to a Latin, Catholic, communal aesthetic. As you think of the future of corporate space, and we think of Latinos becoming ¼ of U.S. population, how will this affect how we think about design?

I would expect to see a massive “Southern” influence in design over the next 20 years. Latin America, India, and Africa will continue to gain in cultural influence on the rest of the world, bringing color, comfort, and community to the workplace and to all aspects of our lives. All of this will be muted some by the overwhelming capital that has been put in place behind very conventional, international (read European) style design in countless buildings being thrown up across China and Latin America itself. But to move beyond aesthetics, I believe the most powerful influence from non-European cultures will be functional. Communal, flowing arrangements of space, such as the Plaza, the Pueblo and the Mercado, will be very important patterns for the organization of Flex organizations. The European arrangement of task – from monk’s carrels to cubicles – will be less and less well suited to the interconnections and complexity that are required to innovate and thrive in our world.

Take 4: Gensler has done significant work looking at the correlation between workplace design and employee productivity and engagement. Can you elaborate on what those connections are?

The first, and maybe most obvious connection, is that when an organization pays attention to the physical, emotional, and social design of the workplace, the organization is saying to its people, “You are valued people doing important work that is worth investing in.” This is sort of the old Western Electric effect, where any investment translates to good will. The second connection, for which there is growing evidence, but which does not work in a linear or mechanical way, is that work environments can be tuned to increase desired behaviors – say casual collaboration and cross-pollination of ideas – and to decrease non-desired behaviors – say hoarding of resources and knowledge. We have hard data that demonstrates conclusively the connection between a workplace’s physical design and its performance in terms of productivity, engagement, and retention. Top Performing companies have workplaces that score 20-40% higher on Gensler’s multi-variable measure, the Workplace Performance Index (WPI). The hard part is that this data is not universal. You have to make the right investments in space to get the returns. And the right investments vary according to the business goals you seek.

Take 5: The terms “diversity” and “inclusion” have not necessarily been part of your discourse through most of your career, but lately they have become an important part of your work. What does diversity and inclusion mean for you now professionally and personally?

Beyond ADA (Americans with Disability Act) requirements, diversity and inclusion have not been a significant topic in commercial architecture and design. This is changing. And the main reason it is changing is the Innovation Imperative. In a global economy, survival depends on innovative capacity. Organizations have to innovate and adapt extremely rapidly. And without internal sources of diversity – of background, worldview, or discipline – organizations can’t perform the most straightforward innovation trick: to think differently. The challenge for architecture and design is to create environments that go far beyond permitting diversity to actually activating diversity. Those environments will be ones in which no one ethnic group, gender or other group will have an in-built advantage. I am not sure what form these will take, but I’ve started referring to them as “out of the comfort zones.”

Brazil’s Economic Future Depends on Education and Diversity

by Andrés T. Tapia —


Brazil_kids-recifeSAO PAOLO – As the focus goes to the implications of  Dilma Rousseff’s election on Sunday, as I left Brazil a few days ago I thought about how much of its promising future depends not only on macro and microeconomics and globalization, but also on the education of its children.

With a growing economy, increasing political stability, and a renewed national sense of hope, Brazil now faces one of its most pressing challenges – educating its youth. A World Bank report concluded that unless the country addresses its current state of education, Brazil will likely fall behind other developing countries, threatening its plans to be a dominant player on the world’s economic stage.

The numbers are, indeed, troubling. Brazilian students score among the lowest on international tests for basic skills in reading, mathematics, and science. They trail other Latin American countries like Chile, Mexico, and Uruguay. Brazilian 15-year-olds tied for 49th out of 56 countries on the reading portion of the Program for International Student Assessment. And more than 50% scored in the bottom reading level of the test, performing even worse in math and science. And according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, Brazil has one of the highest high school drop out rates for students in its region.

Underneath these stats exists a yawning gap between more-affluent Brazilians and the country’s poor citizens. The educational achievement of students who are descendents of Indigenous people, Africans, or youngsters from poor rural areas is even worse than the national stats indicate.

To its credit, the Brazilian government has taken aggressive steps to address this situation, most notably the Bolsa Família initiative, a subsidy program that, among other things, requires school attendance. More poor students are in school and staying longer, as a result. And according to a New York Times article, education has become a burning issue for departing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who sees the issue as an important part of his legacy. But is it enough?

Let’s overlay the education statistics onto a peek at Brazil’s economic situation. The Brazilian GDP is more than $2 trillion and, according to Forbes Magazine, continues to grow thanks to new oil discoveries and its exportation of minerals and raw materials. The government is investing heavily in its IT sector and the national infrastructure. And yet, companies are facing the challenge of finding workers with enough basic skills to fill even manual labor jobs, exacerbating the country’s extreme gap between wealthy citizens and those in dire poverty.

All together – the need for skilled workers at all levels, a growing economy, and a struggling educational system – this situation represents a formula for future troubles. There simply won’t be enough adequately educated youth prepared to take their rightful places in the Brazilian workforce to sustain its national goals. And that’s the real threat all the crianças ( kids) I see on the streets of San Paulo represent.

This scenario cries for a diversity intervention – one that enables the entire Brazilian society, particularly its elite, to put as much effort in educating its marginalized and poorer citizens, not simply because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s an economic necessity. As I suggest in the Inclusion Paradox, it will take Brazilians understanding the differences within their country’s various ethnic and marginalized social groups, building on common cultural touchstones, and then, finding the Brazilian way to navigate those differences. A tall order, but one, I believe that Brazil which has shown the energy and political and social will to address its earlier challenges, can certainly accomplish.

Brazilian Particularism – The Ying and Yang of Going With the Flow

by Andres T. Tapia —

Brazil_-_Rio_de_JaneiroMilton really had me. As my driver in Rio for a full day of sightseeing, attending a futbol match, and then taking me to the airport, he had me fully enthralled by his stories, carioca philosophy, humor, and ability to tap into my Latin sense of solidarity. And by the end of the day he also had me in that he cheated me out of an extra $50.

Or maybe he didn’t. And it’s in the ambiguity of what happened that doing business in Brazil is often like.

So, to understand the rest of the story, a rapid explanation of two contrasting worldviews in how fairness is interpreted: Particularism is a worldview that is comfortable determining what is fair based on circumstances vs Universalism which believes that what is fair is based on rules that apply to everyone equally.

The day had unfolded in a comfortable particularistic way for this Peruvian who also comes from a spontaneous society. On a whim here and there, I had Milton stop there and here. The beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf Mountain), Corcovado (Christ the Redeemer). We stopped to see a samba school practice on a side street. I got out and walked on the malecon along the coast with azure waters to the East and lush green mountains to the West.

Near Copacabana he convinced me to check out an exclusive jewelry sale where, if he dropped off someone he had “recruited,” he would get a “drop off” commission. I was willing to help him get some extra cash because I saw it as a good opportunity to journalistically experience one of those exclusive sales where smartly dressed women and men pull out thin drawers of the most exquisite and expensive jewelry. Half a million dollars worth of jewelry were paraded in front of me with the salesperson’s promise that my wife would love me forever if I succumbed to their rubied and topazed enchantments.

After extricating myself from the hard sale hiding behind a veneer of upper class feigned detachment, I found Milton waiting for me, engine running to scoot me over to that famed soccer temple, Maracana Stadium, where two of Rio’s archrival soccer teams were playing against each other. The elite’s favorite, Fluminense, and the passion of those living in the impoverished favelas, Botafogo. Thanks to his connections he helped me get last minute tickets to the sold-out game where the torcidas, fan sections, shashayed for 90 minutes to the samba rhythms drummed out of the baterias.

As he dropped me off, the easy camaraderie that we had developed was reinforced as he pumped me up with fascinating stories of the long standing soccer rivalry. He gave me explicit instructions about leaving the game 5 minutes before the final whistle no matter how exciting the game was to ensure we would not get caught in the sea of jubilant and dejected fans from the two different teams and where to find him so he could whisk me off to the airport to catch my flight in time.

And true to plan, there he was in the designated spot. I hopped in, he shook my hand, and we celebrated the eventful game. He had listened to the game on the radio so we easily shared in the replays of the great moments.

The day had been fun and joyous, and I gotten to do all that I had hoped for during my last day in Rio. As we neared the airport and I was pulling out the cash to cover the agreed-to fare for the full day with multiple stops, he had “unfortunate” news to share with me. While waiting for me outside the stadium, he had had to take a risk and had parked in a no-wait zone and a policeman had fined him $50 and could I include that in my fare since he had risked it just for me? Hmmmmm…..

One of Brazil’s greatest assets, as well as challenge, in consolidating its position as the fifth largest economy on the world stage, is a cultural trait of being able to flex to whatever gets put in front its people. Whether it be unexpected events, laws, circumstances, Brazilians are adept at going with the flow, a trait caricaturized by the brilliant soccer metaphor of joie de cintura, game of the waist, full of flourishes, feints, dips, knee bends, and hip throws.

What Is Right?

For Americans and other cultures that are more universalist, this can be challenging. I realized then that Brazilians were even more particularist than the particularist Peru I had grown up with. But was this truly a particularist situation where Milton was asking me to partake of the risk and rewards of going with the flow that sometimes included bending the rules? Or was this a con?

I was conflicted. I felt the twinge of this being a set up, but on the other hand Milton had truly provided me with an extraordinary day. Was this a way of him making sure I tipped him? Was it an indirect way of recoupping the low ball day fare he had offered me before he realized how many places I would ask to go to? Was there a real fine in the mix or a bribe he had to offer the police officer to get his driver’s license back? I had no idea. And there I was in the back of the seat of Milton’s cab, door open, next to the TAM Airlines departures entrance.

So I split the difference and said, l didn’t ask you to park illegally but since you did it for my benefit, I’ll pay for half of that fine. I added $25 to the total agreed to amount for the day. Milton’s mood darkened as he took the money. We said our tchaus (goodbyes), and I had many obrigados (thank yous) to shower on him, but the spell had been broken. And so with my carry-on to my side, I lingered standing on the curb, as I watched Milton drive away. The Brazilian saying, “to a friend, everything; to an enemy, the law” scrolled through my mind.

As I have written in The Inclusion Paradox I believe that every culture has the virtues of its worldview plus the shadow side of that worldview that, when left unchecked, leads to less than ideal behaviors. Is the shadow side of particularism that with ever changing rules others can be more easily manipulated? Is the shadow side of universalism mercilessness when not considering individual circumstances in the imposition of the law?

To this day I don’t know what Milton had intended, if anything. I just know that I was uncertain in the moment of the ask, and in my response. I simply did not know what was below the waterline. I just knew that I could not rely on what I felt.

And that did not feel good.

inclusionparadox.com