If I Were Running A Company…Branching Out

I recently had a discussion with a Vietnamese friend about what we’re up to. My friend told her story about going to pageants (as a photographer, not a contestant), sporting events, and others. We discuss about Vietnamese entrepreneurs and here’s what we came up with: restaurants, personal appearances, finance, medicine. That’s it. We were wondering why Vietnamese entrepreneurs don’t branch out to other arenas?

This leads to an article in The Atlantic about wages and education for different races and the results were expected: white workers (men and women) make more money and have lower unemployment than hispanics and blacks. The first thing you think of such a wide disparity is greed. While that might have some truth to it, that’s an easy excuse. This is a quote from the article for why there’s an income gap among race:

These figures suggest that at least two separate, simultaneous things are happening. First, it’s likely that network effects within racial and ethnic communities have contributed to certain professions having far-above-average concentrations of certain groups. Second, the stratification of work probably suggests that there are underlying education (and family) differences.

On the former, this is probably why Vietnamese entrepreneurs only go to areas they know like restaurants, personal appearances, finance, and medicine because the people of their ilk are doing it as well. Same goes to the other races.

You could say the school system is messed up and your kid is not getting a quality education, but I think it’s the quality of teachers and the school culture that is affecting their kids. You’re wondering why I said school culture? Remember that most minorities attend public schools and those schools are controlled by your  government (local, state) and your school PTA, so they decide what materials to give to the kids. In addition, public schools tend to be one-sided.

The main reason you don’t see blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and other races not getting higher wages, lower unemployment, and are part of a small, qualified field is they have to think and learn one way, but in reality, there are a variety of ways to learn and get an answer. It is important to learn the basics like math, science, English, history; but what schools and teachers need to encourage is to see all perspectives. Schools need to embrace the concept that there is no right or wrong, everyone has a different answer to the problem.

Let’s take for example The Colbert Report. The writing staff consists of all white people and of the 18 writers they have, one is a woman. This is what Stephen Colbert (real, not his TV persona) said of the hiring process:

“We don’t say, ‘Give me men.’ I don’t look at the name on the packet when I first read it, because I just want to see what it is, I’m just trying to see if it’s making me laugh.”

He uses the blind resume technique, which is fair since he doesn’t read the names, to see who can be part of the writing staff. He chose 18 funny writers who just happened to be white. If any minority writer has a chance to be in Colbert’s writing staff, they must watch his show, talk to him, and/or read up on current events. Some minorities don’t have the opportunity presented to them because they don’t have cable and/or they don’t get it (e.g a joke, satire), hence, they weren’t accustomed to their culture.

Let’s be honest: the income gap won’t likely change until the generation, that are born today, turns 21. If we want our kids to become well-rounded in this world, it starts at grade level and a school culture that is open-minded and pragmatic. This will lead to opportunities down the road and race and class won’t be an issue. The only issue should be are they qualified to work for your business? Talent doesn’t see discrimination, biases allowed it to.

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