No matter what your political belief, no one can deny the effect on diversity and inclusion United State’s 44th President, Barack Obama made. Going into the White House, President Obama was under a unique microscope no other president has ever been under. Every person of color and marginalized groups were eager to see how he would use his influence to create change. While others were waiting to see if he would overcompensate and favor the colored population. President Obama walked this fine line while becoming a huge change agent.
During his inaugural speech, Obama told the nation, “Our patchwork heritage is a strength.” From the jump, this was a strong D&I move. Not long after that, Obama issued the most important diversity and inclusion measure in the history of the United States, Executive Order 13583. The purpose was to promote the federal government as “a model” of equal opportunity, diversity, and inclusion nationwide. As a direct and immediate result, the Department of Justice (DOJ) employed more than 115,000 diverse people to carry out its mission.
In July 2009, Mr. Obama weighed in on the case of a black Harvard University professor, Henry Louis Gates, arrested for “disorderly conduct” after he protested being questioned by the police while trying to enter his own home. The police acted “stupidly,” the president said at a press conference; he didn’t stop there, he went on to add: “There’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That’s just a fact.”
In 2012, an unarmed black teenage boy, Trayvon Martin, was shot to death by a neighborhood watchman in Sanford, Florida. Mr. Obama weighed in and served as the voice of reason and truth, pointedly saying, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” And just a couple of months later, the president met invited leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement to the White House to talk about the often-tense relations between police and racial minorities, to further support his drive for Diversity and Inclusion.
By speaking out, Obama led from the top down in holding institutions and citizens accountable for their actions, and reminding Americans that his own election did not mean that racism had ceased to exist, he led the charge for D&I. The changes Obama made were not because he was the first African-American president; it was the work he did as a president that made a huge difference. Obama is an Unconfined Diversity and Inclusion Leader.