Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing” and the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO)

by Dr. Denise O'Neil Green | June 30, 2014 10:00 AM

This month is the 25th Anniversary of Spike Lee’s film Do the Right ThingI remember seeing the film for the first and only time in 1989.  The film portrayed tensions between the local residents and an Italian-American family in the Black neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, on the hottest day of the summer.  In a Rolling Stones interview, Lee shared that he had the title before he had anything.  “Do the Right Thing” was a saying he heard in his Brooklyn neighborhood growing up.  Growing up, I was often told: “Be Good”, which was another way of saying: “Do What’s Right”.

Societal and institutional discrimination over decades forged gaps in education, employment, home ownership, and the like between people based on race, gender, class, etc.   But, as case law was established to address these injustices, “doing the right thing” or the moral argument was enough to advance equity.

Originally, the mantra for the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) professional was “Do the Right Thing”.  However, with the shift to weaker equity policies and reversals in case law, it appears the country is growing fatigued with leveling the playing field just because “it’s the right thing to do” has clearly run its course.

Now the mantra is “the business case for diversityand the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) must provide alternative reasons why equity, diversity and inclusion matter.  (See our earlier posts: Cultural Diversity Is Good for Business, Part 1 and Part 2) The business case advances that by 1) paying attention to diverse domestic and global markets, 2) recruiting/retaining/developing diverse human talent, 3) creating and fostering an inclusive organizational structure, and 4) enhancing supplier diversity, the benefits of diversity will be maximized and profits will increase. 

Last week I attended an Economic Club of Canada event and Ed Clark, CEO of TD Bank, was the keynote speaker.  In his very passionate remarks, he shared the following:

“Yes — there is a compelling business case to embrace policies that promote inclusion, which, in turn, helps you persuade others to do the same. I'll get to that later.

But this issue is fundamentally about people – not profits.

Being inclusive must be more than a corporate policy – it must be a guiding principle.

By embedding this principle into an organization, you create a dynamic that makes it easier for companies to help change themselves, change the world around them, do the right thing, and serve their stakeholders”.

Clark affirmed that it’s not about profits or policy but about people, ALL people.  As CDOs, we recognize that we must utilize the business case to advance diversity in our organizations.  However, while the business case reigns, let’s not forget the moral argument to Do The Right Thing because ultimately it’s about people.

I Want to Hear from You:

What’s more convincing in your organization, the business case, the moral case or both?

I look forward to your responses below*, and I'd love your input.

*Note: You will need to register for an Institutional Diversity Blog account in order to comment, but you can get started right away by clicking here, or visiting our FAQ page for more help.  Also, check out this video on "Registering for an Account on The Institutional Diversity Blog".

Share this:

Source URL: http://institutionaldiversityblog.com/spike-lees-do-the-right-thing-and-the-chief-diversity-officer-cdo/