For Immediate Release
The Good Search CEO Krista Bradford is featured diversity speaker at Harvard University’s Sixth Annual IT Summit
Westport, CT: Krista Bradford, the Founder and CEO of The Good Search, LLC, is a featured diversity speaker at the Sixth Annual IT Summit at Harvard University. Ms. Bradford is appearing on on a discussion panel, “Diversity in IT: Challenges and Opportunities”.
Information technology suffers from a lack of diversity. As with many STEM careers, women and minorities remain under-represented in information technology occupations. Although there are promising long-term trends, there are some concerning short-term changes, and we have a long way to go before we reach equality. This presents significant challenges and opportunities for Harvard and the IT community at large. We will discuss the state of diversity at Harvard and other organizations, as well as opportunities to improve the situation and attract exceptional talent from all backgrounds.
As, The Good Search CEO, Ms. Bradford has led numerous diversity talent acquisition engagements for some of the most powerful and successful companies in technology. A former investigative reporter and television journalist, she has worked tirelessly to boost diversity at the senior executive level and across technology organizations. Said Ms. Bradford, “I am honored to have been invited to be a participate as one of the diversity speakers and to discuss best practices in diversity. The Harvard University gathering offers unique insights designed to make diversity initiatives more effective.”
The Sixth Annual Summit takes place at Memorial Hall at 45 Quincy Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Thursday, June 2, 2016.
Joining Ms. Bradford in the discussion are the following thought leaders:
Gabriele Fariello, Assistant Dean for Computing and Chief Information Officer, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Andi Karaboutis, Executive Vice President, Technology, Business Solutions, and Corporate Affairs, Biogen
LaVerne Council, Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology and Chief Information Officer, Office of Information and Technology, United States Department of Veterans Affairs
Pratike Patel, Chief Information Officer, Harvard Law School
The Sixth Annual IT Summit is hosted by The CIO Council at Harvard University. It is designed for University IT staff, key partners, and faculty to explore technology innovations and best practices in higher education. Harvard faculty and staff present on a wide variety of IT projects and initiatives. External industry practitioners participate in an exhibition space and lunchtime educational sessions to share information and demonstrate on industry trends and practices.
Join the conversation on Twitter: #itsummit16
About The Good Search, LLC
The Good Search recruits board and senior-level executives and technologists for luminaries in technology and media. Founded by an award-winning investigative journalist, The Good Search delivers candidates clients never dreamed existed; offers flat fee pricing you can trust; and hands over all the research, something traditional firms never do.
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Executive Feminism Begins with Education
Celebrating International Women’s Day, the First Lady of the United States spoke on behalf of Let Girls Learn and teaches us a lesson in executive feminism: you can’t get there if you can’t go to school.
First Lady Michelle Obama and the Peace Corps have formed a powerful collaboration to expand access to education for adolescent girls around the world. 62 million girls are not in school: in some countries, fewer than 10% of teenage girls complete secondary school. There are parts of the world that believe girls are not worthy of education.
I’ve included excerpts below from Michelle Obama’s speech below:
” . . . And like many of you, as a woman, I take all of this personally. While I’m thankful that I’ve never faced anything like the horrors that many of these girls endure, like most women, I know how it feels to be overlooked, to be underestimated, to have someone only half listen to your ideas at a meeting — to see them turn to the man next to you, the man you supervise, and assume he’s in charge — or to experience those whistles and taunts as you walk down the street.
And I’ve seen how these issues play out not just on a personal level, but on a national level in our laws and policies. You see, in my lifetime -– and I’m not that old -– it was perfectly legal for employers to discriminate against women. In my lifetime, women were not legally allowed to make fundamental decisions about their bodies –- and practically speaking, many still can’t. In my lifetime, domestic violence was seen as a private matter between a man and his wife rather than as the horrific crime that it is.
And today, it is so easy to take for granted all the progress we’ve made on these kinds of issues. But the fact is that right now, today, so many of these rights are under threat from all sides, always at risk of being rolled back if we let our guard down for a single minute.
These issues aren’t settled. These freedoms that we take for granted aren’t guaranteed in stone. And they certainly didn’t just come down to us as a gift from the heavens. No, these rights were secured through long, hard battles waged by women and men who marched, and protested, and made their voices heard in courtrooms and boardrooms and voting booths and the halls of Congress.
And make no mistake about it, education was central to every last one of those efforts. The ability to read, write, and analyze; the confidence to stand up and demand justice and equality; the qualifications and connections to get your foot in that door and take your seat at that table — all of that starts with education. And trust me, girls around the world, they understand this. They feel it in their bones, and they will do whatever it takes to get that education . . .
. . . Every single one of us has a role to play on this issue. And you can start today by going to LetGirlsLearn.gov and find out how to get involved right now. No contribution is too small, as you can see, because in the end, that’s how we’re going to solve this problem –- one girl, one school, one village at a time, with folks like all of you — particularly our young people — leading the way.
And no, it will not be easy. And it will not be quick. But make no mistake about it, we can do this. If we can make this kind of project — progress in just a year — in just a year — if we keep putting in this effort and this investment that these girls deserve, we can get this done. I know we are all up to the task. I know we are. I see it in your eyes. I know you feel that burning sensation, that sense of unfairness. Turn that into action. Turn that passion into something real. Those girls will be so grateful, because they are all of us. They are my daughters, and they are you.”
As we think about diversity and women’s efforts to break the glass ceiling, the First Lady of the United States reminds us that parity for women around the world begins with a girl’s right to learn. Because they are all of us. It’s crazy that there are so many parts of the world that think girls do not deserve to go to school. The First Lady, the Peace Corps, and corporations around the world are pitching in to change that. If you are moved to donate to Let Girls Learn, please do. If you can help in other ways — by getting your company involved, as a for instance — please join in their good efforts. Our collective equality begins with access basic education: Let Girls Learn.
(Updated 22 Feb 2016)
Okay. So Beyoncé detonates a video the day before the Super Bowl: Formation. Ka-blam. Why do I care? I recruit technology executives for a living. And at the senior executive level: diversity matters. So when the Queen B weighs in with her vision, I pay attention. I bear witness to the viral effects that reach across the media landscape. For the many reasons detailed below, I believe her message will help shatter the glass ceiling.
She is Beyoncé: she will be heard.
While it may not be obvious, the ripple effects of media messaging in general are felt at the senior executive level. That’s what study after study demonstrates. Having spent the first half of my career in television news, I’ve witnessed the power of the mass media first hand. As Red & Black notes:
Super Bowl 50 was the third most-watched program in U.S. history, a number that proves that the Super Bowl is not just about the sport, but the spectacle. And no one delivers more of a spectacle than Beyoncé Knowles-Carter.
Beyoncé and her husband Jay-Z run a $1 billion entertainment empire. When you are talking that much money, you have influence. When you entertain in the public eye, your every move can change the world.”
I have updated this post to attempt to answer concerns raised by a reader:
So confused. I honestly see zero correlation between a pop star and her choreographer, and the day-to-day realities of being an executive of color and glass ceilings in the a business environment. #worstcomparisonever”
While the hashtag stung, the criticism seemed valid and called for further explanation:
Throughout history, artists have been outsiders. While they have entertained royal courts and today’s version of royal courts — multinational corporations — they remain on the outside looking in. Beyoncé does not hold the power to affect change directly. She neither legislates nor writes regulations to change the diversity status quo. So the reader makes a good point. But as an artist, Beyoncé does hold the power to change how we feel, and in turn, how we think.
Having spent the past couple of decades married to a man who has performed with the most renowned rock stars in the world: I know pop icons hold the power to move people in ways that politicians do not. Music bypasses the thinking brain and goes straight to the the heart. Music enters the body through the hypothalamus, a portion of the emotional brain layer that receives stimuli related to emotions, sensations, and feelings. That’s what makes the seemingly innocuous creative commentary by pop diva Beyoncé relevant.
Artists are not literal beings. They speak in metaphor. And when Beyoncé speaks, people listen. Formation has set off a chain reaction of diversity consciousness-raising that extends from the Formation debut to a New York Times review to an SNL sendup The Day Beyonce Turned Black to a freakin’ brilliant Formation dance routine created by choreographer WilldaBeast Adams. Reaction continues to this day. For the most part, that’s a good thing.
My daddy Alabama, Momma Louisiana. You mix that negro with that Creole make a Texas bama. I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros.
I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils. Earned all this money but they never take the country out me. I got a hot sauce in my bag, swag “
The New York Times’ Jon Caramanica weighs in with his review:
In “Formation,” she returns to that city [New Orleans]; this time, she’s in scenes that suggest a fantastical post-Katrina hellscape, but radically rewritten. She straddles a New Orleans police cruiser, which eventually gets submerged (with her atop it). And at the end of the clip, a line of riot-gear-clad police officers surrender, hands raised, to a dancing black child in a hoodie, and the camera then pans over a graffito: Stop Shooting Us.
This is high-level, visually striking, Black Lives Matter-era allegory. The halftime show is usually a locus of entertainment, but Beyoncé has just rewritten it — overridden it, to be honest — as a moment of political ascent.”
Given the power of Beyoncé video, SNL pushed the diversity message further. If we need to learn to talk about racism — to talk it out — what better classroom than Saturday Night Live? Comedy, by definition, calls out racism for all its absurdities and contradictions. It is ripe for the pickin’.
And today’s lesson brings us back to . . .Maya Rudolph. The daughter of soul producer Richard Rudolph and singer-songwriter Minnie Riperton who was African-American. Rudolph rose to prominence as a cast member on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. On SNL, Maya not only does Beyoncé. She is Beyoncé.
Ultimately, Beyoncé’s message is embodied in Willdabeast Adams’ choreography that her Formation inspired. The dance routine, filmed and edited by Tim Milgram, was uploaded to YouTube just days ago. It already has
4,912,206 7,260,813 (updated) views. The dancers slay it.
Beyoncé’s ripples wash across the media landscape. Her mashed up racial imagery — Black Panthers, #blacklivesmatter, Katrina — speaks to oppression born of slavery, segregation, police brutality and racial inequality in the criminal justice system, and the poverty cycle. Beyoncé went there because she can.
Spike Lee also went there — #oscarssowhite — in his boycott of the Oscars over lack of nominee diversity. A New York Times article covering the boycott referenced a study that showed how television lowers the self esteem of children with the exception of white boys. “Television was linked to lower self-esteem among black and white girls and black boys; white boys, however, reportedly felt better.” A Los Angeles Times investigation found academy members — the people whose votes decide who wins the Oscars — skew heavily older, male and white. In fact, 94% were white. As a result of Spike Lee boycott — joined by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith — The Academy is changing its rules on which members will be eligible to vote. The jury is still out on whether those changes will have an effect when voting has nothing to do with what movies get made, who gets cast to play starring roles, or who gets hired for other vitally important roles behind the scenes.
Again, what does this have to do with the day-to-day realities of being an executive of color and glass ceilings in the a business environment?
I consider myself and executive feminist and diversity advocate. I do a lot of work helping companies boost diversity at the senior executive level. Still, somehow I failed to notice women are insanely under-represented in crowd shots in films, as detailed in a McKinsey video interview with actor Geena Davis. How could I have missed something so obvious. MS. Davis leads an organization that studies gender bias. She teaches us that we all carry unconscious bias. We can’t help it. So this isn’t about blame. The solution lies in becoming more aware of the biases within and outside ourselves. To that end, Formation is part of the solution.
Formation has sparked myriad conversations about racial parity. Despite what you think of the artist or her commentary, Beyoncé’s video cannot help but be heard in the C-Suite. She may not lead a Fortune 100 company, but she comes in at #29 on the Forbes 2015 Celebrity 100 . That’s Forbes, mind you, a magazine all about business. While Beyoncé does not hire senior executives to a traditional boardroom or C-suite, when she does hire she features an all female band because role models matter.
She holds the power to spark conversation, if not controversy. And in this long-tail world of ours, that’s saying something. Her super-stardom signal breaks through through all the “white noise” out there. She is featured in myriad TV advertising campaigns — representing highly regarded consumer products that range from Pepsi to Samsung to L’Oréal. In other words, Beyoncé has coin and she makes coin for some of the most successful companies in the world. You and I know that’s the kind of power CEOs everywhere recognize. That is why, inevitably,Beyoncé will be heard. It is why what she says has influence at the highest corporate levels.
Beyoncé gets that. She told us so:
Okay ladies, now let’s get in formation, I slay
Okay ladies, now let’s get in formation
You know you that bitch when you cause all this conversation
Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper”
Companies seeking to boost executive diversity frequently will say that they want a top performer who “happens to be diverse”. The phrase gets tacked on as a kind of afterthought, suggesting diversity plays no role in the minds of the stakeholders involved. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In an ideal world, we are to be color and gender blind. Yet most of us are not blind. Psychological studies have proven we register “other” race and gender as babies before we can walk and talk. We become afraid of “strangers”. Our pulse quickens. In other words, we come wired to discriminate. Yet studies also show while our lizard brain discriminates, as our thinking brain kicks in, we check ourselves. Our pulse slows. The more educated we are, the better able we are to tame the unconscious bias within.
So Diversity is Awkward. Let’s Get Over It.
Some business leaders stick their heads in the sand, wishing conversations about diversity didn’t have to happen. But avoidance doesn’t work. Diversity is here to stay. So the question becomes how best to talk about diversity when race, ethnicity and gender is so very . . . personal. It speaks to who we are. Still, those of us who care about fairness find a way to talk about it when it isn’t easy and is often awkward. Diversity dialog often devolves into linguistic pretzels. The following scene from the hit TV series Silicon Valley pretty much nails it as the team discusses engineering candidate Carla Walton.
Jared Dunn: You know what else excites me here? There’s a distinct overrepresentation of men in this company. Look around. I think it would behoove us to prioritize hiring a woman.
Bertram Gilfoyle: I disagree O.J. We should hire the best person for the job. Period.
Dinesh Chugtai: And Carla is one of the best.
Jared Dunn: Right. Let me rephrase. I think having a woman in the company is important, but hiring someone only because they’re a woman is bad. I’d never compromise Pied Piper.
Richard Hendriks: Okay. But, just to be clear, our top priority is to hire the most qualified person available, right?
Jared Dunn: Of course.
Dinesh Chugtai: But it would be better if that someone was a woman, even if the woman part of that statement is irrelevant?
Jared Dunn: Exactly. It’s like we’re the Beatles and now we just need a Yoko.
Dinesh Chugtai: That’s the worst example he could have used.
Have you struggled with how best to talk about diversity or witnessed others struggle with it? Any instructive or entertaining anecdotes?
Newsflash: there’s a gender pay gap. Women make less than men in the developed world.
(Okay, okay. We know this already. This is just my clumsy attempt at wry humor in face of the latest reminder that we female types have a ways to go to achieve parity . . .)
The latest statistics on the gender pay gap come from Forbes and Statista. Check out their infographic. Then if you wish things were better share it, pin it, or otherwise pass it on.
In an article entitled How Pronounced Is The Gender Pay Gap In Developed Nations?, Forbes contributor and data journalist Niall McCarthy writes:
There is still a considerable disparity in what men and women earn across the developed world. Research by the OECD has shown just how pronounced the gender pay gap really is.”
You’ll note South Korea tops the list, discounting the equal work of women by some 36%. Our friends in New Zealand are doing something right . . .or right-er. They have the teensiest gap of just 5.6%. Kind of like sales tax, only its tax on our femaleness, apparently.
(Wouldn’t it be great if we could deduct the gender tax come tax time?)
I share these things not to depress you. Rather, I do so to invite your comments as we — men and women alike — collectively puzzle over ways to make things better.
To that end, what do you make of the gender pay gap? What would you do to fix it?
Silicon Valley Companies Say They Want Black Coders
Ken Chenault is not a black coder. He has a B.A. in history from Bowdoin College and and J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is the CEO of American Express. I had the good fortune to get to know him years ago. Our children attended Fieldston together, a private school in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. He is one of the most accomplished CEOs of the Fortune 500. He has been the CEO and Chairman of American Express since 2001. That’s no easy feat. He is the third black CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
He’s Not a Black Coder, But Stay With Me .. .
Kenneth I. Chenault Chairmain & CEO American Express
His commencement address at Howard University details how his father and mother met and fell in love there. His wife’s grandfather was an early architect at the University. His mother-in-law and father-in-law both are graduates. What does Ken Chenault have to do with black coders in Silicon Valley?
In a Fortune Magazine article, he detailed a $25 trillion dollar opportunity. American Express is embedded in the technology platforms that matter. There are five platforms that matter to the future of payments: Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Alibaba. American Express will be embedded in each.
In other words, technology companies may deliver the connections and the content. But American Express delivers the money.
To deliver said money, American Express had to build a more scalable and cost-effective back-end data processing infrastructure. To do, American Express had to move away from the traditional data warehouses and more into a new Hadoop stack. It is the back-end system for a slew of new services that are driving revenues for the company.
American Express is all about the technology. American Express built the technology infrastructure through which trillions of dollars flow. While Senior Vice President, Enterprise Technology Head of Data and Digital Sastry Durvasula, and Vice President of Information Management and Integration Kevin Murray built the thing, CEO Ken Chenault leads the charge. He is the ultimate technology commander-in-chief.
Mr. Chenault’s leadership is visionary and unstoppable. Though he did not attend Howard University, he shared how his parents, like other graduates, left the University confident they would meet what the writer Albert Murray called our “indelible ancestral imperative to do something and become something and be somebody.” The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Black Coders Like Us
So how is it that Silicon Valley has determined black coders — Howard engineering graduates — are somehow not worthy?
Granted, this whole tech diversity thing is complicated. Still Bloomberg Businessweek reports in excruciating detail in Coders Like Us how multiple diversity ambassadors from the leading Silicon Valley technology firms were sent to Howard University. They came, they saw, and they failed to conquer the vast racial divide.
While African-Americans comprise 13% of the U.S. population, just 1% of coders at Google, Facebook, and other leading Silicon Valley tech companies are black. If it is so very hard for Silicon Valley Companies to hire deserving black coders, you can draw straight line from that gap up to the lack of diversity at the senior executive level.
Again, I come from a place of wanting to fix this thing. We all have unconscious bias. We humans are born that way. We must become mindful of the bias within. That is why so many technology company with so many well-intended diversity programs still have trouble achieving parity. There are things that can work against all those diversity initiatives: employee referrals for one. They have a way of perpetuating homogenous populations, unwinding the best-laid plans for leadership diversity. I’ve witnessed that first-hand.
So, if you happen to be a CEO or hiring executive seated at a technology company that you wish were more diverse, let’s talk. We can do this. My firm has worked on numerous diversity initiatives. We have seen what works and what up-ends the process. While it is complicated: it doesn’t have to be that hard. American Express CEO Ken Chenault offers insights in a sit-down with Stanford Business School:
Bloomberg Businessweek has re-started the conversation. It did so by asking a simple question about black coders, which it subsequently explores in the must-read article by Vauhini Vara:
Silicon Valley companies all say they want black engineers. So why don’t they hire them?”
I ask the question again here today. I welcome your thoughtful answers and suggestions.