Leadership

THE ROLE OF THE COMPANY OFFICER IN MANAGING DIVERSITY

Issue 7 and Volume 154.

BY JOHN LEE COOK, JR. MANY years ago, most fire departments in the United States included just one group of people: white males of northern European extraction. Several years later, and not without controversy, Italian-American and Hispanic men began to be hired as firefighters. In the 1960s, black males became career firefighters in meaningful numbers, and women began joining the fire service in the 1970s.1 Women and minorities entered the volunteer fire service before making serious inroads in the career service, but their entry has been no less arduous and is far from over. Several months ago, I attended a business meeting of a volunteer fire department that shall remain nameless. Several new members were to be voted into membership that night, and a heated debate ensued when a vote was held to admit the company’s first female. In reaction to an affirmative vote, one member announced his immediate resignation…

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