The Historical Evolution of White Men as Full Diversity Partners
Before there were diversity programs, before D&I became a part of the national conversation and even before White Men as Full Diversity Partners officially came into existence, our collective work of engaging white men in diversity efforts had already begun.
A Mentor Sparks a Lifetime Commitment
The passion was ignited when our co-founder, Bill Proudman, became strongly influenced by the intensive workshops Harrison Simms was leading on diversity and group identity. The duo eventually began working together, but things took an unfortunate turn in 1990 when Harrison died unexpectedly.
However, Bill had found his life’s work. Over the next seven years, he continued to observe disbelief among white males that they could offer anything to the change-effort — something he’d experienced himself while working with Harrison — and total dependence on women and people of color for their actualization. This dissonance led Bill to question the role he, along with other white men, had to take to truly sustain inclusive work cultures.
Individual Influences While a Partnership Ruminates
Meanwhile, Bill’s soon-to-be partners, Jo Ann Morris and Michael Welp, were up to their own investigative work on the change-effort. Michael was facilitating interracial teambuilding for South African corporations while working on a groundbreaking doctorate thesis revealing the need to completely engage white men in diversity efforts. Jo Ann was making waves in the corporate arena as an organizational development practitioner and executive coach, spanning industries such as engineering and information technology.
Having crossed paths in 1998 while working with business school students in Chicago, Bill invited Michael to co-facilitate the second-ever White Men’s Caucus after Bill had launched the first session in March of 1997. Around the same time, Bill met Jo Ann during a diversity immersion lab he was leading in North Carolina.
White Men as Full Diversity Partners is Born
Towards the end of 1999, the trio combined their individual consulting firms to become White Men as Full Diversity Partners, leading to the creation of the White Men and Allies Learning Lab in 2000 (Now known as our Partnership Learning Lab). From there, WMFDP’s provocative approach to engaging white male business leaders in inclusion efforts was honed.
WMFDP became well-known for its transformative learning approach that helped leaders challenge their mindsets, grow courageously and build culturally competent leadership teams. Today we continue to evolve our customized consultation and intensive learning experiences for Fortune 500 corporations, large nonprofit organizations, educational systems and government agencies both in the U.S. and internationally — where we operate as FDP Global.