I’m clearly riffing on that infamous Kanye line, but convince me I’m wrong.
The original title of this article was Why People & Organizations Reject D&I, in which I was going to feature my recent Q&A with Kurt Merriweather, who is VP of Products and Co-Founder at The Diversity Movement (TDM).
I met Kurt back in 2009 while he ran corporate development at Discovery Networks after an introduction from then CBS executive Mike Marquez (previously at Yahoo, he moved on to launch Code Advisors with Quincy Smith – making our joke about a finder’s fee fitting). This was way back in 2009, making Discovery one of the 100+ parties we discussed M&A with, though I’d put them in the earliest stages of the M&A funnel (maybe because they had plunked down $250 million to buy How Stuff Works). We were producing How to & DIY videos then, a natural fit with HSW. This was before HSW ventured in podcasts and we made our four big bets. In any case, now that I’m further ahead in my life & career, and having opened up so much on this website, I will say it: whenever I would meet a Black executive in a senior role in Corporate America, I was always surprised and impressed (but not for the reasons you think). I was surprised because given America – despite being the best nation on the planet at its best – has an unsettled dark past rooted in imperialism, genocide, racism, sexism and inequality, that no matter how deserved someone of color may be, I am surprised that they were able to break through. Which takes me to being impressed, because life is all about overcoming obstacles and success boils down to how you react to adversity. Let’s face it: Blacks, women and LGBTQ people all have to overcome greater adversity than others.
In any case, Kurt seemed like a smart and capable executive. Mainly, I recall him for being candid. Discovery had paid a large amount for HSW, and they weren’t doing other deals at the time. We went our separate ways. More Forrest Gump meets Rodney Dangerfield: three years later in 2012, Discovery bought our competitor Revision3 for $30M. Fast forward to 2018: I was in the press room at Vidcon, who do I run into? My man Kurt.
We exchanged pleasantries, stayed in touch, and during the pandemic, we connected and he told me about The Diversity Movement during the Black Lives Matter protests. This year, I chatted with the Certified Diversity Executive (CDE) and patent-holder in the field of streaming media applications and expanded on things a bit more:
Aside from Discovery, he had stints at AOL and Procter & Gamble – recognizing there’s more to life than selling soap, his journey gravitated towards The Diversity Movement (TDM), which:
“provides the tools, methods, and perspectives that businesses need to spark lasting culture change at scale through DEI. We help our clients shift behaviors of individual leaders and employees in order to create high-performing teams that deliver better business outcomes. TDM has recently introduced a beta version of TDM Community, a learning portal for DEI leaders to share knowledge, best practices and access expert advice to advance the practice of DEI in their organizations.”
I commend him for his energies and efforts, and just hope that people don’t mistake having a decent human being and ally in the White House as mission accomplished. For more on how to address socio-economic inequality, you can scroll through this:
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