Spencer Owens

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Success but then Tension
The company is a model of successful diversity efforts and has the most diverse staff in the industry at all levels of the company - 50% female and 30% people of color managers/professional. One third of the executive team were women, one quarter were people of color. The firm encouraged people to ignore gender or ethnic differences. Furthermore, the firm required that everyone attend sensitivity trainings. Networking groups existed to ensure the development and advancement of women and people of color and they also leveraged their perspective on work produced by the firm. Spencer Owens & Co also has just hired its first female executive director – Agnes Richards, a white woman in mid 50s. However, there were growing tensions around race relations. Charges of racism were quick against whites in the company. There was a high frequency of complaints by the networking groups, and poor attendance at sensitivity training. People of color began resigning. When an African-American manager was fired, the firm was divided into those who disagreed with it, calling it unjust and abrupt, and those who said it was overdue because of her bad attitude and lateness problem. Racial tensions had escalated and so Richards decided to take action. Surveys and interviews were then conducted by consultants to assess race and gender relations and formulate corrective strategy. White complaints

Spencer Owens & Co is an international consulting firm focused on foreign/domestic economic development. Traditionally strong in hard-core quantitative analysis, but is now advocating for incorporation of interviewing and observation into data-gathering methods. White male managers are complaining about this – that the diversity program was adversely affecting quality of work. Also, long term white program staff complained that the organization was getting away from its original mission and values (rigorous analysis of economic development). Whites felt that...
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