Diversity and Inclusion: Year in Review, and What We Look Forward To

U.S. companies, universities, and organizations took many public steps focused on Diversity and Inclusion in 2016.  This leaves us hopeful that 2017 will be met with many more examples of achievements in D&I.  Though not exhaustive, here are some D&I events that took place in 2016, and what we at Raines International hope for in 2017:

Tech Companies Search for Innovative Approaches to D&I

It’s been more than a year since Silicon Valley headlines were dominated by Ellen Pao and others discussing the discrimination faced by women and minorities at startups and tech firms.  In that time, Twitter added its first African-American and third woman ever to their Board of Directors; Facebook partnered with Code.org to teach coding to underrepresented students; HP helped pushed its advertising agencies to be staffed by employees who reflect its customer base.

In 2017, we look forward to Silicon Valley boards adding more women and people of color, tech firms’ diversity reports showing a significant uptick in diverse hiring, and additional brands exercising the power of the purse by demanding diverse staffing plans from their vendors.

Fortune 500 Executives Set Diversity Goals

In 2016, the Business Roundtable called for more diversity on corporate boards; executives at Fortune 500 companies pledged to bring more women into the highest ranks of their businesses; 27 of the Fortune 500’s CEOs were female, a record high and up from 22 last year; leaders from LinkedIn, Bank of America, and others created Paradigm for Parity to close the gender gap by setting measurable targets for women’s representation at every level; and more.

These are admirable projects with well-articulated goals. In 2017, we hope more Fortune 500 companies determine what diversity and inclusion mean to them, and create the position of Chief Diversity Officer to oversee that project.  They would join American Express (Nancy Testa), Charter Communications (Rhonda Crichlow), eBay (Damien Hooper-Campbell), PwC (Mike Dillon), Airbnb (which appointed its first Director of Diversity, David J. King III) and others in doing so.

Sports and Entertainment Use their Platform to Promote Diversity

In 2016, the NBA made a $100 million decision to move its All-Star game out of North Carolina to protest a law seen as anti-LGBTQ.  The US women’s gymnastics team in Rio de Janeiro featured Latina, African-American, Jewish, and Caucasian members winning the gold medal; the WNBA earned its 12th consecutive A or higher from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports; and athletes spoke out on diversity and inclusion, social justice, and politics.  Entertainment was caught up in the #OscarsSoWhite controversy in January, but by the end of the month, The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences had revamped its membership in hopes of recognizing the work of more diverse artists in front of and behind the camera.

Still, across the major sports leagues, NCAA, and movies/television/radio, the individuals coaching, managing, and producing great entertainment are not as diverse as the audiences they speak to. In 2017, we hope everyone realizes the same thing Nina Jacobson realized – there’s an awful lot of money to be made from including diverse audiences in projects you manage.  Did Hollywood really not realize that Katniss Everdeen can sell as many movie tickets and toys as male-led franchises?!?

Diversity and Inclusion in Politics

Hidden from the many front-page articles detailing the worst of identity politics was an election that brought more women of color to the U.S. Senate than ever before, including the country’s first Latina US Senator, and many other firsts.  That said, the most-ever women of color in the Senate is still only four … so there’s plenty of work to do in 2017 for all parties.  Whatever diversity means to you, it should be represented not just by our elected officials, but also with their staffs and committees of tens of thousands of individuals working for all Americans.


In 2016, Georgetown University established plans to build a memorial to slaves, name two buildings after African-Americans, and give priority preference in admissions to the descendants of slaves that were sold by Georgetown to keep the University afloat in the 1800s.  These steps came as Princeton, Washington University in St. Louis, The University of Georgia’s College of Education and Georgetown University Medical Center announced Deans of Diversity, several campuses dealt with protests over inclusion, and other campuses struggled with the legacy of buildings named for prominent slaveowners.

Amidst the discussion of safe spaces and trigger warnings, in 2017, we’re hoping that academic studies can look at the number of companies, nonprofits, and organizations that are generating revenue or saving significant costs by embracing Diversity and Inclusion.  Help us find out what they are doing, determine whether or not those efforts can be scaled, and then join us in publicizing to others what more they can do to have D&I programs impact their business goals

In 2017, we hope higher education, companies, nonprofits, and everyone that cares about Diversity and Inclusion collaborates to share best practices.  Let’s move beyond saying how great Diversity and Inclusion programming is – and showing it.  If your organization has incorporated D&I programming into your business, let us know!

Share your thoughts on Diversity & Inclusion in 2016 with Raines International at research@rainesinternational.com