We Need To Think of Diversity Not As Pushing Forward, But As Lifting Up

Back Commentary Mar 4, 2019 By Allison Joy

“Isn’t the topic getting outdated?” someone asked when I told her I was working on Comstock’s annual Women in Leadership issue.

While I think not, her response reflects what might be considered a sense of exhaustion. Last year’s #MeToo and #TimesUp movements gained global attention, and the incredible political gains made by women led the Brookings Institution to declare 2018 another “Year of the Woman,” (the last one being 1992, when more women were elected to Congress than in any previous decade). Women earn the majority of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Films with female leads outperform those with male leads at the box office. Women live longer and are better represented in leadership positions than at any other previous point in time. In the Capital Region, roughly 75 percent of our chambers of commerce are led by women. Some studies suggest we have better track records in finance, including investing in the stock market and managing hedge funds. Corporations who put us on their boards perform better. Perhaps it’s not entirely surprising for some, particularly from older generations, to wonder what the rest of us are still going on about.

Yet, there is still work to be done. The women featured in this issue are a testament to great strides that have been made. They span generations, come from throughout the region, lead in a variety of industries and boast diverse political persuasions, perspectives and backgrounds. I hope you will find within these pages, as I did, cause for celebration and reason to keep pushing for leadership that reflects the vibrant fabric of our city, region and nation.

Listen now: Action Items – Leveraging Regional Diversity

Related: Strength in Numbers

Though perhaps “pushing” isn’t quite the right word. For most of us, even those who may feel they aren’t quite advanced enough in their careers to make a difference, the real task is in lifting. It is on all of us to uplift those within our networks who show exceptional talent and unique vision — particularly those who also happen to come from underrepresented backgrounds.

We’re all likely familiar with the hushed concern of forgoing “the best person for the job” in the pursuit of diversity. I try to take that concern as code for “help me.” If diversity is important to you, the absolute best way to funnel those energies is into leveraging your resources to lift up the promising and capable individuals in your own network. Connect them to opportunities, recommend them for jobs, offer your mentorship. Ask for ideas and provide the kind of critical feedback that facilitates professional growth. If you know an organization with a diversity problem — on its board, within its staff — this is how you can go beyond call-out culture to follow up with real solutions. There is no substitute for ensuring we have a purposeful impact in the environments where we carry the most power and influence.

Speaking of which, this also seems like a good time to announce some news of my own: At the end of this month, I will be stepping away from my position as editor in chief of Comstock’s. It has been an honor to lead this phenomenal team of editors, writers, designers, photographers, illustrators and other creative forces within media. The talent and dedication behind the scenes of this magazine, while seldom seen, is truly exceptional. I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished together, from the articles we’ve published, to the digital platforms we’ve expanded onto and the recognition those efforts have received.

I will, in the immediate future, continue on in a more limited capacity, helping to guide the publication’s overall editorial vision and digital strategy — after that, perhaps as a writer and always as a reader.

Telling the Capital Region’s story during such a pivotal time of transformation has been beyond fulfilling, and I thank you for trusting me to tell your stories.


David Hosbein (not verified)March 6, 2019 - 7:54pm

Hello Allison,
Did neither you nor any of your other editors realize that your opening paragraph is sexist?
Here's the simple test you can use to confirm for yourself and others that it it is: simply substitute the word men in place of the word women.
Once you do that you will immediately feel the oppressive and negative stereotyping that such a sexist paragraph contains.

I'm sure all the impressive women in your poll achieved the vast majority of their success through hard work, determination, creativity, persuasiveness, and myriad other valuable character traits - not because they have two X chromosomes or female genitalia.

And the same is true of men.