Posts Tagged ‘Diversity’

WJLER Symposium: “Diversity in the Legal Profession”

April 15th, 2013 No comments

Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race Upcoming Symposium:

“Diversity in the Legal Profession”

April 25, 2013, 6-9:15 pm

Widener Law Delaware Campus (Vale)

Widener Law Harrisburg Campus (Televised in A180)

Click on the Flyers below to learn more information on the upcoming symposium.

Harrisburg Flyer (larger view)                                            Delaware Flyer (larger view)


A Call for Change in Corporate Diversity Programs

April 15th, 2013 No comments

By: *Melissa Chapaska

Blog Topic: Minorities in the Corporate World

A Call for Change in Corporate Diversity Programs

Diversity is essential to a corporation’s ability to compete in today’s economy. While corporations seem to have acknowledged the importance of diversity with “diversity days” and other programs intended to promote racial diversity, these programs have failed to create an increase in diversity among corporate leadership positions. For instance, as noted in a recent MSNBC blog, despite the Hispanic population’s growth in number and influence, Hispanics comprise only about 3% of corporate board members and 1.2% of Fortune’s 500 CEOs.

Furthermore, according to an article by the Center for American Progress, African Americans and Asians are also extremely underrepresented in corporate leadership positions (constituting only 0.8% and 1.8% of Fortune’s 500 CEOs, respectively). These startling low numbers suggest that despite corporations’ best intentions, corporate diversity programs provide the appearance of corporate diversity without actually promoting diversity in the leadership of these corporations. As a result, it would be prudent for corporations to reconsider the effectiveness of their ongoing diversity programs and take more proactive steps in recruiting and promoting minority workers from within, in order to best compete in today’s diverse economy.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.


*Melissa Chapaska is a staff member on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. To learn more about Melissa, click here to visit her page.
Lili Gil Valletta, Pope Francis: A reminder of Latino priority for corporate America and the GOP, MSNBC (March 14, 2013),
Crosby Burns, Kimberly Barton & Sophia Kerby, The State of Diversity in Today’s Workforce, Center for American Progress (July 12, 2012),

Why Are There So Few Minorities Represented in the Corporate World?

April 8th, 2013 No comments

By: *Kayla Butz

Category: Minorities in the Corporate World

Why Are There So Few Minorities Represented In the Corporate World?

This blog seeks to answer the question, why are there so few minorities represented in the corporate world? According to the Boston Consulting Group, “[m]arked and measurable progress has been made in minority business development” since the topic first came into the spotlight to the U.S. Department of Commerce through reports conducted in the 1980s by The New Strategy for Minority Businesses and Minority Business Enterprise Development. However, the report goes on to say, the next step is “moving from presence to prominence” on growing larger and self-sustaining minority businesses.[1]

Not everything is positive in regards to corporate diversity. Many people have speculated as to the reasons why there are fewer women and minorities in the corporate world. Law professor, Randolph McLaughlin, has commented on this issue. His observations, while working with clients, were that minority executives were given less responsibilities than their white counterparts and were also paid less.[2]  This could be one reason as to the rise in minorities and female workers leaving their jobs in the corporate world.  In addition,  study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology revealed that, “women quit more than men; African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans quit more than whites; and that minority women quit more than both whites and men of their own ethnicity.”[3]  The study also explains that minority workers are new to the corporate world and “are struggling disproportionately with newcomer challenges of adapting to a new workplace.”[4]  Ultimately, these are just speculations because the study focused on who left and not why they left the workplace.

Despite this disparaging phenomenon, there are companies that have been successful in fostering diversity in the workplace. Fortune 500 did an article on the 50 best companies for minorities.[5]  The companies that made the list, “are firms that make an effort not only to hire minorities but also to retain them and promote them through the ranks.”[6]  In addition to interacting with minority communities, these companies make management accountable for diversity efforts. This may be why they have not experienced the high turnover rates as other companies. Ultimately, companies that are best for minorities “are really those in which people of color feel that they belong–at all levels–everyday.”[7]

For a continued diverse workforce, there needs to be a match in diversity among management ranks.[8]  One way to foster the growth of diverse management among companies is to encourage minority business development. A minority business is one that is at least 51 percent owned and controlled by members of minority groups.[9]  While the growth in minority businesses has been dramatic, the total number of businesses still leaves minorities underrepresented in this area.[10]  The reason for the expanse of minority businesses can be attributed to federal government legislation programs.[11] Besides the growing minority population, the importance of expanding minority businesses includes the fostering of economic development.[12] The Boston Group’s report indicates that minority-owned businesses could serve as a powerful infrastructure for inner-city economies, which ultimately will contribute to the overall economic growth of the United States.[13]

The benefits for creating a more diverse corporate world are clear. The problem is making that happen. Even though there have been improvements made, “history takes time.”[14]  As the federal government continues to pass legislation that promotes businesses and companies owned by minorities, like those listed in the Fortune 500, which continue to work to diversify their firms, the scarcity of minorities in the corporate world will no longer exist.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.


*Kayla Butz is a staff member on the Widener Journal of Law of Economics & Race. To Learn more about Kayla Butz click here to visit her page.

[1] The New Agenda for Minority Business Development. Boston Consulting Group, (June 2005),
[2] Farrokh Hormozi & Randolph McLaughlin, Minorities Gain in Corporate World, THE JOURNAL NEWS (April 28, 2011),
[3] W.P. Carey, Women and Minorities’ High Quit Rates Make Corporate Diversity Difficult (April 27, 2007),
[4] Id. at 3.
[5] Id. at 3
[6] Id.
[7] Id.
[8] Id.
[9] New, supra note 1, at 5.
[10] Id.
[11] Id. at 7.
[12] Id.
[13] Id.
[14] Daniels, supra note 5.

The Great Race: Minority Advancement in the Corporate World

April 4th, 2013 No comments

By: *Chantal Jones

Blog Topic: Minorities in the Corporate World

The Great Race: Minority Advancement in the Corporate World

There is much to say about the strides that minorities have been making in the corporate world. Minorities have made their footprints in executive positions in some of the highest revenue generating corporations. For example, Rodney Adkins is an African American who is the Senior Vice President of IBM Systems and Technology Group; Pamela Culpepper, who is Hispanic, is the Senior Vice President of PepsiCo; Carolynn Brooks, an African American woman, is the Vice President of OfficeMax, Inc.; and lastly, Cindy Brinkley, a Caucasian woman, is the Vice President of talent development at AT&T.[1]

Largely as a consequence of affirmative action programs, established during the Civil Rights movement, minorities recently begun to participate in certain areas of society in ways previously restricted to privileged members of the majority group.[2]   These affirmative action programs had their most direct and immediate effect on minorities that were well-prepared and poised to take advantage of any opportunity that arose in the occupational system.[3]

However, these programs were seen as a gift and a curse because while they have been successful in giving minorities great opportunities to advance in the workforce, minorities’ intellect and credentials have been called into question, which created yet another obstacle to overcome. Affirmative action programs are starting to become obsolete; however, they have been replaced by Diversity programs that were created to increase diversity amongst corporations.

As a minority with aspirations of being successful in the corporate world, I recognize the challenges that we face. I am appreciative of diversity programs, but I think that it is unfortunate that these programs have to be created at all just to ensure equality in “the land of the free.” I do believe that minorities have come a long way by establishing themselves in executive positions in the corporate world, but I think there is much more work to be done. I am very optimistic that minorities will increasingly climb the ranks of the corporate world as long as they remain prepared and ready, when opportunity knocks.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.


*Chantal Jones is currently a staff member on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. To learn more about Chantal  click here to visit her page.
[1]Black Enterprise, Top Executives in Diversity: Our editors identify the leaders of corporate inclusion, Black Enterprise (June 1, 2011),
[2] Elijah Anderson, The Social Situation of the Black Executive, in 2001 Race Odyssey: African Americans and Sociology, 316, 317 (Bruce R. Hare ed., 2002).
[3] Elijah Anderson, The Social Situation of the Black Executive, in 2001 Race Odyssey: African Americans and Sociology, 316, 320 (Bruce R. Hare ed., 2002).

Affirmative Action and College Admissions

November 19th, 2012 No comments

Blog Category: Affirmative Action

by: Amy Hummler

When does a university’s use of race in determining admissions to its undergraduate program violate the Equal Protection Clause? This is an issue that the Supreme Court must once again decide. On October 10, 2012, the Supreme Court heard the case of Abigail Fisher, who claimed her constitutional rights were violated when she was unfairly denied admission to University of Texas at Austin’s (“UT”) undergraduate program because she is white. The Fifth Circuit upheld the constitutionality of UT’s admission process in January of 2011 affirming UT’s use of race elements in determining undergraduate admissions as constitutional. (631 F. 3d 213 (5th Cir. 2011)). Pursuant to Grutter v. Bolinger, UT’s admission program not only guarantees students who are in the top 10% of their high school graduating class admission to the school, but also considers the race, and other various attributes, of each applicant. The Supreme Court held in Grutter that a university “will not violate the equal protection clause if it narrowly tailors its use of race in admission decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.” (539 U.S. 306, 343 (2003)). Thus, the Fifth Circuit interpreted this as UT is allowed to consider the attributes of individual applicants of all races.  631 F. 3d at 221.

When UT guaranteed admissions to its undergraduate programs to the top ten percent of students, this increased the number of African Americans and Hispanics enrolled in UT. However, UT claimed that this increase in minority admissions still did not offer the diversity UT desired in order to meet its compelling interests of “promoting cross-racial understanding, breaking down stereotypes, and preparing students for an increasingly diverse workplace.” As a result in 2004, UT began to consider race among many other factors in determining admissions into its undergraduate program. Within a few years, UT was one of the top public universities in the country for producing undergraduate degrees for minority groups. Abigail Fisher, an in-state applicant, sought enrollment at UT Austin in Fall of 2008 and was denied.

This October, UT’s lawyer explained to the Supreme Court (who reaffirmed college affirmative action by a 5-4 majority in Grutter) that the university uses “holistic’ review of each applicant’s characteristics in addition to an applicant’s race. It was reported that Supreme Court Justices were ‘skeptical’.” After all, UT’s use of its “color-blind admittance” for applicants who were in the top ten percent of their class did increase diverse enrollment, which works in Texas where there are high schools that are nearly all African-American and Hispanic. UT argued that its top ten percent program admitted students at disadvantaged schools that have lower standardized test scores into the university, leaving out the average minority kids at better suburban high schools. Thus the use of its affirmative action program will admit more minority students from middle class and professional families. This apparently did not sit well with the Justices, including Justice Alito, who stated “I thought that the whole purpose of affirmative action was to help students who come from underprivileged backgrounds.” The balance of the court on affirmative action has shifted with Justice Alito replacing Justice O’Connor.

But despite this majority shift, the real issue is whether public universities are using Grutter to overstep their use of affirmative action. UT’s top 10% program not only increased enrollment of minorities, but also helped underprivileged kids that attend schools that are less competitive in standardized testing to gain admission into a public university. This program is something I believe should be adopted by all public universities. However, I agree with Justice Alito that that the use of affirmative action should be used to help underprivileged children in poorer communities to gain admissions to higher education. These underprivileged children, often minorities, do not have access to the better educational programs that the more privileged communities have. Thus, the use of race to admit minority students from the more privileged communities seems to be counter-intuitive.


The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.


*Amy Hummler is currently a staff member on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics and Race. To learn more about Amy Hummler, click here to visit her page: Amy Hummler

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Light Skin v. Dark Skin: Is this issue still relevant?

November 12th, 2012 No comments

Blog Category: Race & Economics in the Media

By: *Jade Morrison

We have long seen the struggle between “house” and “field Negros” as they were divided based on skin complexion. Spike Lee highlights this phenomenon in his 1988 film entitled “School Daze.” Lee in this film shines light on racism based on skin tone and hair texture in the African American Community.[1] More recently, the African American community took to social media to discuss Gabrielle Douglas’ hair texture, referring to it as “unkempt,” after she won the gold medal during the Olympics.[2] Is colorism still alive? Is the legal community taking this issue seriously?

Are wealthy African Americans expected to look, dress and speak with a certain dialect? Trina Jones in a recent article discussed the social and economic desirability of African Americans (and other ethnic minorities) with lighter skin tones.[3]  Jones shares a case study highly relevant to the legal profession:

A typical example might involve two African- American female associates at a law firm: L.K. Johnson and Shymeka Smith. L.K. Johnson, has permed hair, wears understated jewelry and dresses conservatively. She socializes with her coworkers, avoids committee work involving racial or gender issues. . . . L.K. lives in a predominantly White suburban neighborhood and is very careful to always use standard, crisply enunciated, English. Shymeka Smith has long, flowing dreadlocks and wears African-inspired attire and bold, colorful jewelry. Shymeka tends not to socialize with her coworkers, has been vocal and actively involved in the firm’s diversity committee, lives in the inner city . . .”L.K. is promoted to partner and Shymeka is denied promotion.

Assuming roughly the same talent level, one could argue that Shymeka was passed over because she chose to embrace her racial identity rather than to downplay or distance herself from that identity. That is, Shymeka was harmed because her identity performance did not conform to mainstream norms. According to Professor Kenji Yoshino, Shymeka failed to “cover;” that is, she failed to “mute the difference between herself and the mainstream.”[4] Instead of reflecting racial differences, what Shymeka should have done was to minimize those differences by adopting a racial performance closer to Johnson’s. [5]

Does colorism affect the socioeconomic class of African Americans? Although most courts today recognize colorism claims under Title VII on the grounds of interracial discrimination, however, only a few plaintiffs actually recover under this theory. [6] Colorism claims are mostly seen in the context of employment discrimination. The legal community must take this phenomenon seriously. Colorism affects African Americans and other racial minorities in their everyday lives. The Media and professional establishments have created a stereotypical ideal African American image throughout the course of history. This image is demonstrated by L.K. Johnson in Jones’ article. African Americans should not be forced to choose between their cultural identities and their profession.  Lawyers should not shy away from pursuing colorism claims because of the low rates in which plaintiffs succeed. These claims will help move toward equality for African Americans within their own communities. This will create true diversity, not a superficial concept of diversity based on one’s skin complexion of an organization’s employees.


*Jade Morrison is currently the External Managing Editor on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics and Race. To learn more about Jade Morrison, click here to visit her page: Jade Morrison

[1]        SCHOOL DAZE (Columbia Pictures 1988)

[2]        Gabrielle Douglas Responds to Her Hair Critics, (Aug. 12, 2012)

[3]        Trina Jones, Intra-Group Preferencing: Proving Skin Color and Identity Performance Discrimination, 34 N.Y.U. REV. L. & SOC. CHANGE 657 (2010).

[4]        Kenji Yoshino, Covering: The Hidden Assault on our Civil Rights; Devon W. Carbado & Mitu Gulati, Working Identity, 85 CORNELL L. REV. 1259 (2000);

[5]        Kenji Yoshino, Assimilationist Bias in Equal Protection: The Visibility Presumption and the Case of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” 108 YALE L.J. 485, 500 (1998).

[6]        See Hansborough v. City of Elkhart Parks and Recreation Dept., 802 F.Supp. 199 (1992); Walker v. Secretary of Treasury I.R.S, 713 F.Supp. 403 ( 1989); Burch v. WDAS AM/FM, No. CIV.A. 00-4852, 2002 WL 1371703 (E.D. Pa. MAR. 12, 2003); Brack v. Shoney’s, Inc., 249 F. Supp. 2d 938 (W.D. Tenn. 2003).