In 1997, my business partner, Bill Proudman, convened the first ever White Men’s Caucus on Eliminating Racism, Sexism, and Homophobia in Organizations. However verbose, it described what we set out to do. It was also then that Bill and I formed our company, White Men As Full Diversity Partners (WMFDP), and we’ve been on a crusade ever since.
In the Forward to my new book, Four Days to Change, Bill tackles what is commonly the first question people have: “I know what you’re probably thinking: A book focused on the ‘needs’ of white men? Oh please.” A point which is the clarified: “…this is a book about diversity, and inclusion, and why white men need to see these issues as their issues.”
We gave our company its name after careful thought as a way to get the conversation started. The vast majority of corporate executives in America are white, male, primarily heterosexual, and they must be led out of the dark when it comes to removing bias – both conscious and unconscious – from the workplace. Can you imagine talking strenuously with a group of white, male executives about homophobia back in the late 1990’s. Well, I can, and I did – many times! And I can also tell you that they emerged transformed from what we describe as “blissful cluelessness”.
The progress made by the LGBT community has been immense, but we are by no means at safe harbor. Now that it is “socially acceptable” to be utterly unbiased on sexual orientation and identity, I am proud and honored to have worked ceaselessly on this cause going back 20 years when it wasn’t “politically correct” in the slightest, back when we risked being pariahs.
But again, we aren’t there yet: 42 percent of gay individuals say they have experienced some form of employment discrimination, while 90 percent of transgender individuals report either experiencing harassment, mistreatment or discrimination, or having to hide their gender identity entirely.
We focus on corporate America because, for better or worse, this country runs on productivity and the bottom line – and bias and discrimination damage both in incalculable ways. Well, I should qualify that; someone did calculate it at $64 billion in lost annual revenue due to workplace discrimination, and other studies find the damage even higher.
Working with corporate leadership for Fortune 500 companies all over the country and abroad, we hold what is now simply referred to as the White Men’s Caucus, right alongside our labs tailored to employees of any race, gender or orientation. These caucuses and labs served as the foundation for my book.
Describing exactly what we do in the corporate arena can be daunting, so I included detailed anecdotes while illustrating the big picture. A brief overview of Four Days to Change:
- Journey to South Africa
- The Four Paradoxes
- Ten Examples of White Privilege
- Unconscious Bias
- Fourteen Examples of Male Privilege
- Objectifying Women
- The Collision of Sexual Orientation and Religion
- Exploring Gender Identity and Generational Differences
- Twelve Examples of Heterosexual Privilege
- The 12 Radical Habits (New Mindsets)
- Eight Critical Leadership Skills
- Letter to Nelson Mandela
Four Days to Change has been a labor of love for me as I delve into the experience of helping leaders face their prejudices however blatant or subtle, and the rights of LGBT workers cannot be overstated.
The LGBT community has power – power in the workforce and buying power. LGBT buyers are significantly socially conscious when it comes to whom they do business with. In fact, it is estimated that they represent an $884 billion market opportunity for those companies wise and honest enough to understand who they are and what they face. With Four Days to Change, I aim to let the whole world know.
About the Author:
Michael Welp, Ph. D, is co-founder of White Men As Full Diversity Partners (WMFDP) and author of the book Four Days to Change. In 1990, Mr. Welp journeyed to post-Apartheid South Africa, where he took a proactive role with non-profit Outward Bound while leading team-building projects within more than a dozen South African corporations. For over two decades, Michael has worked extensively with Fortune 500 company leadership to build a culture where diversity flourishes and inclusion is the order of the day.
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