I read the Wall Street Journal. Or at least I try to. It leaves me scratching my head more often than not. But I’ve always thought it does a (reasonably) good job of representing a (relative) diversity of opinion and perspective. And it makes me look important when I'm on the train.
the almighty council
A few years back, I came across the WSJ CEO Council. Know it? Well, the group of 150+ CEOs and dignitaries is convened by invitation only and meets once a year to discuss today’s pressing public policy and business issues. At their most recent meeting in November of 2014, they pontificated on topics ranging from the 21st century workforce to pro-growth fundamentals and tapering the capital gains tax. Read the report. It's interesting. Interesting, but not enlightening.
These are heady matters. And these are accomplished, bright, and (in most cases) powerful business people. Their companies are big – they employ a lot of people. They have the inertia and influence to make a difference. Yet as I read the report in 2012, 2013, and 2014, I couldn’t - I can't - get past the fact that the findings and recommendations are fueled primarily by a bunch of old white men. Why do powerful organizations do this time and time again? The WSJ is on a very short list of agencies that could actually attract and convince a group of this stature to spend two days of their busy lives in “break-out sessions.” Yet it continues to put together a group that looks like the Mayflower passenger manifest. I could have picked names from a hat and produced something more diverse.
scratch your head with me
I’m not suggesting the resulting recommendations are misinformed. And I strongly believe that “any time you have two people in the same room diversity is present.”. But coooooommmme on! The facts...
*97% Male, 2012; 94% Male, 2014
*84% White, 2012; 89% White, 2014
*3 (2%) Black, all Male, 2012; 4 (2%) Black, 1 Female, 2014
*4 (3%) Hispanic, All Male, 2012; 3 (2%) Hispanic, All Male, 2014
*14 (10%) Asian, 1 female, 2012; 10 (6%) Hispanic, all male, 2014
161 CEOs gather in a room: 152 of them are male and 144 are white. And don’t get me started on the amount of grey hair. What the hell is going on here?
you have a higher obligation
There is of course political, economic, and societal impetus here. It isn’t surprising, though, that the WSJ’s failure to pull together a group that more appropriately represents our modern economy resulted in less than stunning insights. For a media giant that claims to speak directly to the world’s most discerning consumers about the subjects, people and products that matter most to them, they should know better. It's embarrassing. Let's see if they can figure it out before the 2015 program in November.
To me, this is a frighteningly telling image of so much that's (still) wrong with work.