Northwest Center conducts first-ever presidential leadership diversity and inclusion survey


President Barack Obama has achieved the highest rating among modern American presidents for both his global leadership and his rhetoric on diversity and inclusion, according to a new survey conducted by Northwestern University Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy (CSDD).

Obama, who was the 44th president, scored 75 points out of a possible 100. President Donald Trump had the lowest overall score with nine points.

“Public opinion and expert polls on presidential leadership have been a hallmark of public culture in the United States since the end of World War II,” said Alvin B. Tillery Jr., director of the CSDD and associate professor of political science at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern. “This period coincided with America’s transition from a society with public standards based on white supremacy, patriarchy and homophobia. Despite this fact, there have been no major polls of presidential leadership on diversity and inclusion. ”

The CSDD, in collaboration with Christina Greer, associate professor of political science at Fordham University, surveyed 113 academic researchers and asked them to rate the 14 modern presidents on both their overall leadership and their rhetoric. on diversity and inclusion using a scale from 0 to 100.

Interviewees emerged from a group of invitations of 400 academics who published books dealing with presidential leadership on diversity and inclusion. The invitation pool included an oversample of academics who teach at institutions ranked among the “Top 20 Most Conservative Colleges” by The Princeton Review.

The survey asked respondents to rate the “greatness” of the 14 presidents in three leadership categories that provided them with opportunities to promote diversity and inclusion – the use of executive power to protect the constitutional rights of minorities. ethnic and racial, LGBTQ Americans and women; the use of inclusive rhetoric about ethnic and racial minorities, American LGBTQs, and women; and the use of Article II appointing powers to include ethnic and racial minorities, American LGBTQs, and women.

“Perhaps the most remarkable finding is that our experts rated the 14 Presidents significantly lower on their leadership in diversity and inclusion than they did on their overall leadership,” Tillery said. “While nine of the 14 modern presidents scored at least 50 points out of 100 on our panel for their overall leadership, only Barack Obama and Bill Clinton scored over 50 points for their leadership in diversity and inclusion. The average score on the Diversity and Inclusion Index was 35 out of 100 points.

Tillery added that experts have identified LGBTQ issues as the area in which modern presidents have most lacked leadership on diversity and inclusion. Only Obama has scored more than 50 points on presidential leadership on LGBTQ issues.

“These findings present a sober reminder of the challenges LGBTQ Americans continue to face in being represented in our national political discourse,” Tillery said. “It should also be noted that George W. Bush, the only Republican President to rank in the top 5 for overall leadership in diversity and inclusion, would have obtained a much higher ranking from our experts. if they had seen him as more engaged on LBGTQ issues. Finally, President Trump got the lowest score – eight out of 100 – on LGBTQ issues for presidents in office since the Stonewall uprising in 1969. ”


Kevin E. Boling

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