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An internal memo from the new chief of NBC News appears to suggest he will purposely discriminate against white applicants in his quest to further diversify the company.
The memo from Cesar Conde, which was tweeted out by New York Times columnist Ben Smith, says his goal is “that 50% of our News organization employees be women and 50% of our total workforce be people of color.”
“Over the past several weeks we have covered a country reckoning with systemic inequality and the painful consequences of a long history of racial injustice,” Conde wrote without citing any corroborating evidence.
New memo from NBC News chief @cesarconde_ sets a goal for representation: "that 50% of our News organization employees be women and 50% of our total workforce be people of color." pic.twitter.com/s3B5KmHz7Z
— Ben Smith (@benyt) July 7, 2020
“During times like this, I know we all feel a heavy responsibility to our audience,” he continued. “But we have another important responsibility to see as well — to each other and the news organization we all value.”
Calling it the “Fifty Percent Challenge Initiative,” Conde cited the “accelerating” change in demographics around the country as justification for his program.
“As a news organization we have a unique responsibility to reflect the country and all of the communities we serve,” his memo continued. “Simply put, we aspire to achieve two concrete goals: that 50% of our News organization employees be women and 50% of our total workforce be people of color.”
The memo contained a link to a video message and slides providing additional information about the initiative.
Conde also announced that he will meet with staff in 100 days to get “feedback on our action plan and how we should hold ourselves accountable.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly 76 percent of the country is white, leading some to question the legality of Conde’s initiative while also pointing out that he appears to be practicing the same form of ‘institutional racism’ he claims to want to combat.
At present, NBC has around 3,000 employees across its news division — NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC — and 27 percent are considered persons of color, the Los Angeles Times reported.
So, in order to achieve the percentages of diversity he desires, Conde will have to intentionally discriminate against whites.
“We want to increase diversity and inclusion both in front of and behind the camera, and earn the trust of every community in America that relies on us for exceptional journalism,” Conde said, the Times reported.
“We realize that this is an ambitious objective and it will of course take time to do in a proper way. We understand this is a challenging time to start this effort but there are always reasons to say, ‘Not now.’ To get there tomorrow, we have to start today,” he added.
He said that while 27 percent is “better than most in our industry — but it is not good enough.”
That breakdown, according to the Times is as follows: 8 percent black; 8 percent Latino; 8 percent Asian; 2 percent multiracial; and less than 1 percent Native American.
Women already comprise about 50 percent of NBC News’ workforce.
In June 2019, the left-leaning Brookings Institute’s William Frey, a demographer, reported that less than half of all U.S. children 15 years old and younger were white, citing Census Bureau data.
At the same time, the nation’s birthrate is also declining, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reaching the lowest level in more than three decades last year.
“Birthrates fell for nearly all racial and age groups, with only slight gains for women in their late 30s and early 40s,” NPR reported, citing the data.
Both factors would appear to support critics who call Conde’s plan discriminatory against whites.
It’s not clear how Conde plans to ensure the success of his initiative if NBC fails to attract enough applicants in the favored racial and sexual categories.
The plan was widely panned on social media.
“I love how we’re back to judging people by the color of their skin again. Just like old times. #sarcasm,” one user wrote.
“That’s a violation of federal law,” wrote another.
I love how we’re back to judging people by the color of their skin again. Just like old times. #sarcasm
— TaDDow (@taddow77) July 7, 2020
That’s a violation of federal law.
— Michael Babb (@p25735) July 7, 2020
“Let’s fight racism and gender bias, by instituting our own racism and gender bias”.
— craig seaver (@bigbdad18) July 8, 2020
Since POC are only about 13% of the general population that is discriminatory against all other groups.
— hunkerdad (@hunkerdad) July 7, 2020
White people who get rejected by @cesarconde_ have a basis for a discrimination lawsuit based on this alone. Sue them
— why (@tumrel) July 7, 2020
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