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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Lonnie Poole, March 22, 1999. Interview I-0085. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Diversity in the workplace

Poole does not have a strict philosophy on race and gender in the workplace, and his leadership of his company has divorced him from hiring and firing, but he asserts that he grew up among African Americans and that his companies employs more African Americans than white Americans. He does believe that the country has more progress to make on race relations.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Lonnie Poole, March 22, 1999. Interview I-0085. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JM: How has, what is your experience been like in the way of managing around the issue of say race and gender? Certainly in the last generation there have been tremendous changes in society for African Americans or other non-Caucasians and for women. Has that been something, have those issues been issues to which you've had to give much attention as a manager in your experience? Or have they largely generally sort of taken care of themselves? LP: I can tell you that I'm less sensitive about such issues than I think most people. More of my neighbors were black than white. So I've basically grown up and the people that I played with and worked with were black. The people that I went to school with were all white even up through, matter of fact NC State had admitted the first black when I was in school there. Now we had made great strides with the women. We had admitted fifty-two of them. So I went to a lily white, all male university. It was the topic of conversation, and I once wrote a paper. I told them I did not know the answer nor did I know when the answer would evolve. But I did know how to recognize when it had and that would be when we were able to tell black jokes or white jokes and all in the group both black and white would find them funny. We haven't gotten there. Do I have to pay attention to it? Absolutely. We employee 1500 people. The government has become very involved in making sure that we have racial equality and gender equality and there are agencies set up to police and enforce those things. We have to be aware of them. While I have my own philosophy, I don't hire many of the people in this company nor do I manage most of them. When you get to be a 1500 person company, I must set policies that are consistent with good human decency and second comply and abide by the law. So we are very conscious of that. We have more black employees in this company than we have white.