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Pageants and Politics: A Contrast in Diversity

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Pageants and Politics: A Contrast in Diversity

If you are a regular reader of this blog—or otherwise an advocate for inclusion and diversity—and you were asked to put together a list of the benefits of I&D, you could probably put down quite a few items fairly quickly: improved decision-making through a greater variety of backgrounds and perspectives, a better understanding of diverse audiences and markets, the presence of role models for diverse pools of future talent, etc.; etc.

We’ve seen a significant increase in I&D in recent years across a variety of areas from education and government to business and media. But, at the same time, there remains a prominent lack of diversity in many of the most influential levels of those fields, as two recent examples demonstrate.

Diversity in Pageants

First, there has been a lot of media coverage around the fact that black women now hold five of the top pageant crowns: Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, Miss America, Miss Universe and Miss World. This is rightly something people of color and people generally around the world are excited and proud about. For millions, these pageants highlight the qualities that society most values. The fact that the winners— all of the winners—look like those who for years felt they simply weren’t the right color to compete is a huge milestone.

Diversity in Politics

Just a few days later, much of the nation’s attention was drawn to another sort of contest—not a pageant but a race for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. Andrew Yang, an Asian-American stated that he felt it was, “both an honor and a disappointment to be the lone candidate of color” taking part in the debates.

The contrast is illustrative. All the candidates, let alone the winners, of the big five pageants are remarkable individuals with impressive talents and life stories. They serve as great role models for people around the globe. At the same time, their influence is minuscule relative to the President of the United States.

Based on the current representation and front-runners in the race to fill the office in 2020, it does not appear that diversity will play a significant role at all.

Why is this and how might this same dynamic play out in workplaces around the country? What does your boardroom look like?

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