Words Won’t Win. Actions Will.
By Lynn Branigan
“Real education means to inspire people to live more abundantly, to learn to begin with life as they find it and make it better …. The mere imparting of information is not education.” – Carter G. Woodson
In 1926, Carter G. Woodson, American scholar, educator and author known as the Father of Black History, lobbied schools and organizations to participate in a program that would encourage focused study of African American history. He wanted the program to take place in February because it is the birth month of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. It started as a one-week observance, and was later extended to the entire month.
Carter’s quote at the top of this message struck me because it speaks to action. His expression – “The mere imparting of information is not education” – says to me that words are never enough to incite meaningful change. Particularly in the face of behaviors and attitudes that are entrenched in decades – if not centuries – of bias.
As the head of an organization that has been working for women’s equality in the workforce for more than 100 years, I embrace Carter’s perspective. We’ve learned as an industry that words and good intentions don’t move the needle on inclusion and diversity. Pledges and promises are admirable, but without data and measurable actions, companies have a difficult time hiring and promoting the right number of women and people of color into leadership roles.
This is why we launched #Inclusive100 in 2018: to measure, to act, and to produce evidence that we were moving the industry forward. After two years of collecting data on the progress of inclusion and diversity across marketing, media, and tech, we now know that the numbers are stalled (at best), and possibly moving in the wrong direction. You can read the report here, or read the Ad Age article from last September.
We not only know definitively how the needle is moving, we also understand MANY more actions that companies can take to reverse the slide. We’ve learned these by observing the highest indexing companies (#Inclusive100 pivots on the Diversity Best Practices Index, with 100 as the highest score). Plus, the consortium has incredible conversations four times a year to share knowledge, confront barriers and exchange program designs that empower companies take action.
And here’s the kicker. Participation in #Inclusive100 – including submitting data to the DBP Index – is absolutely free. At least for now. And the data remains totally anonymous. We wanted to create a frictionless way for companies to get smarter and make real progress.
As Carter said, it’s not about imparting education. It’s about inspiring new behavior. Please join the movement. The DBP Index is taking applications through March 13. You can be part of the change we need to see. Send me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org – and I’ll tell you how.