While Starbucks was closing 8000 stores to conduct its Racial-Bias education the Disney Company was tossed into its own controversy by Roseanne Barr. The so-called comedian decided to exercise her First Amendment right to hurl a racist comment to Valerie Jarrett, the former senior advisor to President Barack Obama. Starbucks’ seemingly swift condemnation of the store personnel was eclipsed by the stunning move the ABC Entertainment group when it moved swiftly to cancel its number one rated sitcom “Roseanne”. While both companies have been applauded for their swift action, there is another glaring similarity that cannot be ignored; a person of color at the decision table.
The roles of Rosalind Brewer, Group President and Chief Operating Officer for Starbucks and Channing Dungey President, ABC Entertainment cannot be overlooked as simply coincidental. It’s impossible to say whether these two organizations would have taken such aggressive actions without the presence of color. The presence of color is not a guarantee but it makes it difficult to ignore their importance. They are two of the 300 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America listed by Black Enterprise. For years, minorities have stressed the importance of having people of color in C-Level positions. These examples of swift, decisive action in matters that normally struggle for an answer should serve as a reason for inclusion.
Obviously, there are economic considerations for both high-profile companies. ABC Entertainment’s parent company, Disney Company also stood to be tarnished by Barr’s racist’s comments. Disney’s rapid response could also have been propelled by the success of the movie Black Panther which has grossed over $1 Billion worldwide. Our Racial Bias Education Isn’t Enough post focused on the fact that it takes more than training to solve America’s race problem.
We stated that the institutionalization of racism needs to be rooted out at the core. We focused on rooting in out aggressively, being unyielding, unapologetic, and persistent! We can also add increasing the number of minorities at the executive levels and throughout the organization. Diversity at all levels forces interaction that breaks down barriers, stereotypes and pre-conceptions.