White man talking on a cell phone

Photo by Peter van Eijk / Unsplash

The White Guy in the Room: 6 Life Lessons in 6 Months of Working in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Articles Dec 6, 2021

“Umm…wait a second, you’re doing what?”

After 16 years of college teaching and a lifetime of writing books, this was the reaction 99.9% of the time when I told friends and colleagues that I was joining The Diversity Movement — a little shock, a bit of wonder, and a lot of implied “why would a middle-aged White guy do this?”

Perhaps not a natural step for most people, but as I explain what we do and how important it is, listeners usually move from quizzical to supportive. Their frowns and glassy-eyed looks turn positive once they get it. And, I fully understand why. Several years ago, if someone would have told me a similar story, I probably would have reacted the same way.

Let’s move past the first issue…can a middle-aged White guy be an ally and work in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)? A wholehearted “yes” here, particularly if diversity is expanded to its full meaning beyond a catch-all term for race. Yet, I am a White guy in DEI. I don’t need anyone to throw roses at my feet as I pass by. It’s a great job that fulfills the same do-gooder instincts I had while teaching, but allows me to reach exponentially more people.


Bob Batchelor

Bob Batchelor is Director, Public Relations & Publications at The Diversity Movement. TDM is a product-led consultancy that ties diversity initiatives to real business outcomes.