Saying "No" to Yet Another White Guy

by Julie Graber | on 14 Jul 2020

I’ve threatened on numerous occasions to create a website to track every time a company or organization passes up the opportunity to add a woman or person of color to their board or executive team by adding yet another white guy instead. I've even registered the domain: 

I was reminded of this particular “to-do” item when I ran across a news item on Gayle King’s recent interview with Randall Stephenson, outgoing CEO of AT&T. Noting that Stephenson is being replaced by John Stankey (a white guy), King chided Stephenson a bit, suggesting that his retirement would have been a good opportunity to promote someone who didn’t look like him to the CEO spot. Stephenson admitted she had a point. 

Wouldn’t it have been interesting if Stankey had said “no?”

Wouldn’t it have been interesting if Stankey (and so many other white men like him) had said “no” and insisted that the next CEO be someone who didn't look like him?

White men have the power to change the face of corporate American with one, two-letter word.


Not me.

Not him.

Not this time.

Let's face it - white men are the ones who are going to have to decide to say "no" to yet another white guy. Whether for themselves or someone else, white men, who make up nearly 50% and more of the decision-makers at the manager level and up, are the ones who must drive change in the composition of the leadership pipeline.

By turning down an opportunity. By recommending a broader slate of candidates. By grooming a successor who isn't another white guy.

Stephenson said it himself: "[promoting diversity is] not going to happen on its own. If we're just left to our own devices, we surround ourselves with people who look like us.” “It's time to step things up,” he added.

White men are asking how to be allies for women and people of color in the workplace. How about stepping up by taking a step back? How about making sure someone who doesn't look like you has the opportunity to step forward?

How about saying "no" to yet another white guy?


Tags:  In the News