What do you do when yesterday’s heroes fall from favor?

Universities, cities, and now the world’s most famous scholarship (The Rhoades) are scrubbing history. Statues of famous leaders whose histories include slave-owning or segregationist views are coming down.

Racism is an ugly stain on our country and the entire world, really. It’s one that stubbornly reappears though we’ve come such a long way in the last century. The truth is that most of us are either descended from racists or from their victims, no one is immune from racism.

While our ancestor’s ethical lapses on discriminatory behavior need not define us, it too often does.

I almost guarantee that your organization, if it’s more than 30 years old, has a history of racial and gender bias if not outright harassment. If you’re org is 10 years old, there’s probably some bias on gender identity and religion. If you’re new and loaded with young talent, you are almost assuredly age discriminators. The evidence for the latter is overwhelming.

Moreover, human trafficking is today’s growing stain. My guess is that one hundred years in the future people will wonder why we tolerated the de facto slavery that goes on today. Why the hell is it more popular to plant a tree than it is to save a child from a life as a sex-slave?

Such has always been the national behavior on things we did not fully understand. We are a lot of assumers and we miss tremendous talent by catering to our biases and not demanding a wide range of diversity and attention to the serious problems we face. If you tell us you have a policy, or that you give back, we might tell you that your head is in the sand. If policies worked, we would not be tearing down statues and reading about modern-day discrimination, much less slavery.

One cannot help but wonder if future generations will melt down the statues of today’s leaders because they ignore the obvious.

Questions for The Ethics Award

How does your organization prevent all forms of discrimination?

What are you doing about human trafficking?