The Download

A New Twist to the Twenty

During a time when inequalities are pressingly present, it becomes hard to deny the roles that all genders and races contributed and continue to contribute to our history. With the announcement of Harriet Tubman to become the new face of the $20 bill, this movement stands as a tribute to all who have previously gone unrecognized, especially women.

This diversification of our money will seemingly hope to level the gender gap and the way history is taught, talked about, and seen, as Tubman was an extremely powerful woman; a woman who can act as a role model for generations to come. While many people are torn about Andrew Jackson’s replacement, they fail to see the opportunities that this change presents as it can also act as a conversation starter.

In an interview between ABC News and Treasury Sec. Jack Lew, Lew states that this change will “bring both sides of our bills to life” as changes will also occur to the $5 and $10 bills, with the back of the $5 bill showing Marian Anderson and Eleanor Roosevelt and the back of the $10 bill telling the story of Women’s Suffrage. The current plan is to release the new bills in 2020—the 100th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage.

While it is important to honor those who have come before us and correct the rights and wrongs throughout history, it is even more important to keep pushing forward in a promise of a better future. I can’t say that this change will solve all of our diversity, inclusion, and equality problems, but it seems like a step in the right direction.


Should Stop & Shop be ashamed of themselves?

The recent news of closing the Grove Hall Stop & Shop in Roxbury, MA for health violations reinforces the long held preconception that corporations have a different set of quality standards for their outposts in largely non-white neighborhoods.

Honestly, I have never heard of a Stop & Shop or any other major grocery retailer having to close a store for health violations of this magnitude. I am quite certain that Stop & Shop has a department dedicated to quality and sanitary standards. So at best someone was asleep at the wheel or at worst didn’t care. These types of violations don’t occur overnight—it’s possible that store has not been a priority for quite some time.

This incident also reveals how a lack of proper management, oversight, cultural competence, and understanding of the external environment can set a community back and damage a corporation’s brand.

I’ve lived long enough to remember retail flight from Boston’s Black communities and the devastating economic and health consequences that followed. It seems to me that if Stop & Shop understood the true nature of what they were doing and the importance this store held to the community, then there would have been the same level of attention paid to the safety, quality, and sanitary conditions as their Watertown store. The people of Roxbury deserve better.


A Call to Equality in the Sports World

Coming off of International Women’s Day on Tuesday, March 8, an ample amount of support was shown for women around the world. Yet it seems unacceptable that just a few days later we are witnesses to inequalities within the realm of sports as the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team lacks the support and recognition they deserve

While it is easy to back a team when they are constantly in the news and doing well, it is even harder to do so when that same team is no where to be found on TV. The U.S. team recently qualified for the Olympics, has not lost a game since December, and they continue to dominate the field as they most recently swept the 2016 SheBelieves Cup—yet the only way to catch them in action is to stream them online. What more do these ladies have to do to gain TV time and unconditional support?

An opportunity is being missed here to support and endorse this powerful group of women; a group that stands as an important role model for young girls and a group that nationally everyone can get behind. Even though all genders can back the U.S. team, our quest for diversity and inclusion continues both on and off the field. It will be a big step for us as a nation when the national team can be looked at and taken seriously despite the season.



It greatly saddens me to hear about the recent death of Maurice White, a man who produced positive and uplifting music at a time when it was needed. As a member of Earth, Wind & Fire, White helped to create numerous hits that are unlike anything we hear today.

The music of Earth, Wind & Fire had a tremendous impact on my youth and early adulthood that will forever stay with me. Songs such as “Let’s Groove,” “September,” and “After the Love Has Gone” prove that anyone, regardless of race or gender, can listen to their songs and find meaning within them.

With the release of their first, self-titled album, “Earth, Wind & Fire” in 1971 and their latest album “Now, Then & Forever” in 2013, it is clear that their musical reign cannot be matched. It is safe to say Maurice White, and his talent, will be missed.



Let me state right up front, I am not a Donald J. Trump supporter, nor do I agree with any of his policy ideas or statements. I am astounded however at his ability to identify and engage an audience who for the most part feel their needs and viewpoints have been unaddressed. On this point alone I think we all can agree.

Good marketing is about meeting unmet needs, and this is exactly what Trump is doing throughout his campaign as he continuously brings up subjects and ideas that are not typically discussed in the mainstream media. Clearly the thought that audience segments are mature, monolithic, saturated and have no more room for growth, what Fox News and Donald Trump have done to address the largely – real or imagined – unmet needs of a specific segment of the American electorate is pretty remarkable.

Trump provides an interesting example of identifying an issue of importance to an underserved segment and how that segment can be engaged by providing a “voice” and building it into a viable audience. Despite our personal and political beliefs on the Trump candidacy, all of us that do this work can learn from Trump’s marketing savvy.



Most of us do some form of customer survey. Those surveys give companies valuable insight on how we’re doing and what we could be doing better. What would you do if you surveyed your customers and found out that you were ranked the third worst company in categories like fair treatment, customer service, customer satisfaction or overall consumer sentiment? What if those findings were made public? You’d react in some way, wouldn’t you? Maybe you’d at least send out a press release with a different narrative.

Or maybe you wouldn’t address it at all because customer service, satisfaction and sentiment aren’t important.

A recent study by the website 24/7 Wall St. says Rhode Island is the third worst state for black Americans for reasons ranging from low home ownership rates to high unemployment (see link below). With all the protestations by the business, political and education elites about how important inclusion is, we’re waiting for someone, anyone to step up and speak about this issue.

Maybe no one thinks diversity is damaging to the state’s brand or diversity is an important category to measure. Or maybe no one really cares.

Read PBN’s article ‘RI 3rd Worst State for Black Americans’



We love the end of the calendar year, when news shows give their retrospectives on the current year and give us predictions on trends and innovations for the coming year. These predictions and retrospectives cover the gamut from sports to politics to business. I’ve always wondered why D&I practitioners and experts have never ventured into predicting trends and innovations in this important work.

Could it be that with the exception of marriage equality in the last 25 years there hasn’t been a significant breakthrough in approach for D&I practitioners to point to? I’m struck by the fact that with all the macro and micro trends taking place in business today that most of us are still using 1980’s approaches for business problems in the new millennium. Have we gotten to the point that culture change & representation is all we can point to?

I hate to be the one to say this, but maybe the trend we’re about to encounter is a complete collapse of the D&I work as we know it. Especially if we can’t answer this fundamental question – what did you contribute to the bottom line?

At some point we’re going to have to adopt the same business practices and approaches that our companies do in their quest to be performance engines focused on profitable growth.

Until we adopt those practices our work will not be sustainable or innovative enough to make the list.



Over a year ago GVC was asked to provide competitive analysis for a client. The ask was simple; give us a sense of who’s promoting D&I well and assess their engagement strategy with diverse audiences.

Our research found that the tech companies like Google, Yahoo & Facebook were leading the pack not only in the stories they told about their cultures, but their pages were elegantly designed, easy to navigate and man were they engaging! All of them touted collaborative environments, growth, employee resource groups, extremely well written commitments to diversity & inclusion and employee videos.

Fast forward to today and the revelations on the state of D&I in these tech giants, all of whom admitted that they are falling woefully short on workforce diversity. Which begs a question… just because a firm has a beautifully designed, well written, rainbow representation web page and/or microsite, does that mean it actually has a strategy that’s producing results? Just sayin’!


I hope you find this missive helpful. If you would like to talk about your specific inclusion challenges or desired state, let’s grab a coffee. Email me at