Wednesday, April 13, 2016

White men in need of help

Posted By on Wed, Apr 13, 2016 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge diversity.jpg
Not long ago, I read a column in the Indianapolis Business Journal written by Marshawn Wolley. His column served as a precursor to April 4, the anniversary of the day Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis.
That evening in Indianapolis in 1968, 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 point of 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.

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 I’m throwing my theory in the mix while making 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.

On April 7, 2015, the Pew Research Center published a report titled, “A Deep Dive Into Party Affiliation.” 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 southerners, and white men with some college or less. Democrats lead by 30 points or more with Blacks, Asians, 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 percent 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.

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.

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Michael Leppert

Michael Leppert

Michael Leppert is a public and governmental affairs consultant in Indianapolis and writes his thoughts about politics, government and anything else that strikes him at

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