Crain's Detroit Business: Bertie Greer on diversity in corporate America
In the wake of nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice toward Black Americans, corporate America has reengaged its efforts to diversify its workforce. Diversity and inclusion is not a new topic, and companies have talked about expanding a pipeline of diverse talent, particularly Black talent, for decades. This is critical in Southeast Michigan and Detroit, where 77 percent of the city's residents are Black. Black workers struggle to reach the halls of upper management. The result is a pipeline of young, diverse talent that enters but strives to leave in short order. Prejudice and racism have Black employees frustrated, with 35 percent of Black professionals intending to leave their job within two years, compared to 27 percent of white professionals, according to a December 2019 study, "Being Black in Corporate America," by New York think tank Center for Talent Innovation. "You have to be identity conscious, not identity blind," said Bertie Greer, the associate dean for strategy and planning and an associate professor of global supply chain management at Wayne State University. "Companies want to do everything they can to attract diverse talent, but then do nothing to retain them. You can't have a limited number of minorities and then want to treat them like everyone else. The experiences and situations the minority is having is different. The truth is you may have to do something different; you'll never see it if you're not conscious to the identity of that person in the workplace."