As a student of history who has been fascinated by social movements and cultural change, I can not help but look at this current moment in time and be proud and excited. Over the last 50 years, our species has made incredible advances on almost every front, yet in the 24-hour news cycle and click-bait culture we live in, we are constantly reminded of how far we have to go. But I firmly believe in the science and power of positive psychology - focusing on what works and doing more of that - so I am taking a moment to celebrate how far we have come.
Here are some facts that we can be inspired and encouraged by:
Since 1960, female participation in the workforce, globally, is up over 30%.
Women currently hold 26 CEO positions at S&P 500 companies, in 1972, there was one.
Women made up 20.2% of board seats of the Fortune 500 in 2016.
In the 1920s, less than 10,000 African Americans were college educated. There are nearly 4 million African Americans alive today who hold four-year college degrees.
38% of Hispanics ages 25 and older had college experience in 2015, up from 30% in 2000. Among U.S.-born Hispanics, 52% have gone to college, an increase from 41% in 2000. By comparison, 27% of foreign-born Hispanics reported some college experience, up from 22% in 2000.
In the US alone, Latinos wield more than $1.3 trillion in buying power, and the number of affluent Latinx households is growing much faster than for the overall population.
Latinos are creating new businesses faster than other Americans. Latinx-owned business grew by 46% between 2007-2012.
Latinos were responsible for 29% of real income growth in the United States 2005-2015, with the number of Latinx households with incomes over $150,000 growing by 194%.
The data on the growing acceptance and inclusion of the LGBTQI+ community are harder to define. Anecdotally, over the last two decades, we have seen an increase in the acceptance and inclusion of the LGBTQI+ community in the media, at work, and in our economy.
I deeply acknowledge the fact that we have a long way to go to achieve the dream of a more just, representative and inclusive society. That being said, we all have so much to be grateful for. The poor are richer than they have ever been. The disenfranchised have access to more tools for enfranchisement than ever before. Minorities are becoming the majority.
Our societies are more integrated and diverse than they have been in eons. As diversity, equity and inclusion (a.k.a. D. E. & I.) move from an idea to an initiative to an industry, I am curious to learn about how DE&I practitioners are helping organizations build upon the challenges and opportunities they address through their DE&I work. So, I sat down with Juan Lopez, President of Amistad Associates and co-founder of Diversity 2000, a national think tank that focuses on compelling diversity issues.
Yes, we have so far to go, and look how far we have come! I am grateful to live in an era where my life is enriched by the immense progress previous generations have made. I am speechless when I think that just two generations ago my people were being forced into ghettos, torn from their families, burned in ovens and forced to labor in concentration camps.
During our current chaotic times, it is easy to be easily provoked, disheartened, and myopic. To quell the tension and regain center - that place to which we must return - I encourage you to take a few steps back and study the arc of history. As an impatient millennial, I too think progress moves too damn slow, yet as a student of history, I see just how fast we are progressing.