01
Nov
10

Old White Guys Rule the World

I remember the conversation clearly. 

It was back in 1981 and one of my Professors was talking about my career options. We discussed various alternatives and explored the possibilities of many different vocations, picking the most likely prospects. Then, came his final encouragement. “You have a great education. You are intelligent. You are a white man and the world is run by white men.” 

Now, this was Madison, Wisconsin and not Madison, Mississippi. It’s a progressive northern town in modern times, and here was a professor telling me that old white men rule the world.  

That conversation came back to me last week. I was in a meeting of senior executives and directors for companies throughout the Twin Cities area. The room was full of – you guessed it – old white men. I was the youngest in the room, no men of color, and only three women. The strangest part was that I didn’t notice the mix right away. 

Instead, it was an outdated discussion on social media that woke me up. The room was discussing the impact of social media on senior management. They were grumbling about how difficult all the different platforms made it more difficult to control situations. It seemed like everyone would be happy with the status quo. Then it was obvious that I was in a room of old white men.  

This was a blatant example of the lack of diversity. Most of these situations are much more subtle. Look around. Do your groups all look like you? Are you comfortable? You’re probably reinforcing the status quo. This is an era of accelerating change. It’s an exciting – not comfortable – time.  

These times are creating major opportunities. Finding those opportunities requires fresh perspectives – not a strength of old white men! My friend, Lisa Foote, is creating her own opportunities. After a successful corporate career, she stepped out on her own. Lisa embraced the new social media platforms and used the unique perspectives of a diverse audience to create a new marketing outlet. Her company, MixMobi, is now the premier mobile marketing company in the country. You rarely find Lisa in rooms of old white men. 

How about you? Are you breaking away from your comfortable, traditional approaches to find new opportunities? It’s time to lose the old white men in your life – or risk becoming one!

 

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