This morning I read a column in the Indianapolis Business Journal written by Marshawn Wolley. He is an impressive young man who I was lucky enough to meet and work with on an issue this winter. His column serves as a precursor to April 4, a famous date in American history, and of particular notoriety in Indianapolis.
April 4, 1968 is the day Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. That evening in Indianapolis, Bobby Kennedy, while on a presidential campaign stop, made the announcement of Dr. King’s death in his famous speech calling out for peace. Indianapolis gave him peace that night, while many cities rioted. The park and monument enshrining the event is just up the street from my house, and it is awesome.
The point of Mr. Wolley’s piece though was to shine light on our city’s lack of diversity on civic and non-profit boards in comparison to our community’s actual diverse ethnic culture. It is an unquestionable flaw. Its solution however, is one that should be sought most by those currently in control of those organizations.
Why? Because it will simply make all of us better in every way.
Next Saturday at 1:00, there is a Rally For Women’s Rights scheduled for the south Statehouse lawn. Based on the RSVPs on Facebook, thousands are expected to be there. That’s right, thousands are expected. Organizers are gathering this group in response to the recent, and horrible, abortion bill passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Pence. Our national culture has reacted to the new Indiana law with almost uniform outrage.
How did it pass? Because we weren’t listening to the majority of women in the Indiana community.
We have all been watching a presidential campaign like no other in modern history. The leader in the race for the Republican nomination provokes predictable hatred from large numbers of his own party. It is not just opposition. It is shameful anger that I hear from many of my Republican friends. It is fascinating to watch one of our two major political parties plot and scheme the defeat of the guy their own members are voting to nominate.
Political experts have been throwing out new theories every week as to why Donald Trump is still leading this train wreck, so it is high time that I threw my theory in the mix. At the same time, I want to make clear that some of this theory also applies to gubernatorial politics right here at home.
Republicans are making bad decisions on the biggest stages right now.
Why? Because of the party’s lack of any kind of diversity.
For the last few days I have been carrying around “A Deep Dive Into Party Affiliation,” an April 7, 2015 report published by the Pew Research Center. Its findings are intriguing though not completely surprising.
The very first page of the report shows the groups that tilt Republican and Democrat. The only demographics the GOP leads by more than 20 points are among, Mormons, white evangelicals, white sourtherners, and white men with some college or less. Democrats lead by 30 points or more with Blacks, Asians, the religiously unaffiliated, post-graduate women, Jewish and Hispanic populations.
Women generally “tilt” Democrat 52-36. Men are almost equally divided 44-43, leaning Democrat.
It has long been my view that the worst decisions come from groups that look and think too much alike. I see this in corporate America and the non-profit world as much as I do in politics. People have heard me describe bad group ideas often by saying things like “those guys have spent too much time talking only to each other.”
And that is what a lack of diversity delivers: bad ideas.
The top businesses in Indiana are embracing the need for a diverse work force. Again, why are they doing that? It is not to be politically correct or even charitable. It is because it makes their ideas, and therefore their businesses better. Much better, and more profitable.
Women represent 20% of the current U.S. Congress, an all time high. The same percentage applies to the Indiana General Assembly. It is no question that contributes to some terrible outcomes.
Mr. Wolley is absolutely right that we need more diversity across the board in our community’s leadership groups.
As a middle aged white man, I want to be clear that I believe my demographic is who needs that diversity most of all. We are spending too much time talking only to each other, and that has become when we are at our worst.