CNN’s “In the Money” crew placed the blame on corporate America for a lack of diversity in the workplace in its February 17 show, saying businesses have a long way to go on something “so simple.”
The segment featured two African-American guests. However, “In the Money’s” treatment of minorities in the workplace failed to address such foundational issues as family, culture and education in determining people’s interests, career choices and ultimate success.
“…Our society continues to be pretty racially isolated. People live in segregated neighborhoods and students go to segregated schools,” said Beverly Daniel Tatum, president of Spelman College. None of the shows’ hosts questioned this sweeping generalization about the state of American race relations.
Ironically, Tatum’s workplace, Spelman College, is segregated regarding to both race and sex. The women’s college is a historically black institution where, according to the College Board, 98 percent of the student body is black.
Richard Parsons, chairman and CEO of Time-Warner, Inc. (NYSE: TWX), also appeared on the show to discuss diversity within CNN’s parent company. Even as Parsons insisted that diversity within American businesses was on the rise, CNN correspondent Paula Zahn called it “pathetic” that only three African-Americans were running Fortune 100 companies. However, an article by Kenneth Meeks, published on BlackEnterprise.com, states that there are 18 black CEOs in the United States. This figure represents 300 percent growth from the year 2000. At that time there were six black CEOs.
No matter how hopeful Parsons’ tone was, Zahn continued her attack against the diversity practices of the American workplace. “…the minorities are at a distinct disadvantage,” Zahn said, adding, “I’ve read it in e-mails.” Zahn never had time to mention the accomplishments of African-Americans. In 2002, 547,341 black women owned their own companies. This figure, from USA Today, represented a growth of 75 percent from the year 1997. Black women also earn 11 percent of all bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
The show’s hosts downplayed how much American companies spend on diversity training annually. Novations, a Boston-based consulting group, issued a press release earlier this year stating that nearly 75 percent of American companies plan to increase or maintain spending on diversity training this year.