A few weeks ago I read an online article entitled Should White Folks Profit from Diversity Work? by Jamie Utt . I found the topic intriguing so I posted the article on my facebook page and posed the question in a number of diversity workshops I have presented. I implored my friends and business associates of all races, creeds, and colors to give me feedback on the topic. All of my inquiries were met with silence. This appears to be a topic with ten foot pole marks all over it.
Sadly, Utt revealed in his article that white folks actually make more money doing diversity work than their counterparts who are people of color. It seems that once again white privilege reared its ugly head, and this time in an arena where people of color struggle more, and have more personal knowledge, interest, investment, and experience than white folks. “Blood struggle” was the term used to describe the qualification that was lacking in white consultants.
Let me stress that no one suggested that white folks should stop doing diversity work, simply that we stop accepting money for it. Naturally this proposition makes me uncomfortable for a myriad of reasons, among them is the fact that white folks need to eat and pay our bills too. Those of us who do this work have student loans to pay off, offices to operate, and families who depend on us. We have chosen the work because we have noticed the need. That is the number one reason that entrepreneurs start companies, they find a need and want to fill it.
To me, diversity work is God’s work. Those of us who do it are called to it. Regardless of race all the diversity consultants I know do the work for the same reason, because we want to create a better world for our children and grandchildren. We do it because we want to be a part of correcting historic wrongs. White people do the work because our hearts hurt from seeing our friends and relatives of color suffer from an ongoing oppression that those of our kind have visited upon those of their kind.
So how do we correct the pay inequity in the field? I don’t believe that disadvantaging white professionals is the way to go. Shouldn’t we be working to be sure that professionals of color command the same fees that white folks are receiving? Isn’t it time that we bring some equity to the business of fostering equity?
Let’s not diminish the work in any way by saying it should be less profitable for anyone who does it. To be sure, if white folks start doing it for free soon everyone will be expected to do the work exclusively on a volunteer basis. Then the question is: Why pay a person of color to do the work that white folks are giving away?