Disingenuous Diversity

diversity.jpgDiversity programs at businesses and schools tend to be disingenuous (lacking in frankness, candor, or sincerity) and hopelessly mired in PC-land.  It is a shame, too, because if companies used them properly they could be fabulous recruiting and retention tools.

I believe in true diversity.  The groups I have managed have always been diverse, and my current group resembles the United Nations (except that we actually get things done). 

I don’t aim at politically correct diversity.  I try to hire smart, hard-working, talented, team-oriented people.  Prima donnas need not apply.  By doing that in a color-blind way, I tend to end up with a broad representation of sexes, ages, religions, races, etc. 

I am quite familiar with diversity programs and the politics behind them.  I represented the Christian employee network group at Compaq / HP and experienced some interesting things.  Corporations cave to threats of boycotts by the gay groups and do little to police them.  One “Pride” group at HP had a team building event to go to a drag queen contest.  Indeed.  It was published on the company’s intranet.

Of course, free sensitivity training was offered to anyone who might not think that a company funded employee organization based on sexual preferences was a swell idea.

We had a Christian employee network group with official “diversity group” recognition when we were still just Compaq.  The Diversity Manager complimented us regularly and considered us the model network group.

After the merger with HP, they approved all the other groups immediately but scrutinized the Christian group for a full year.  We met the criteria they had published better than any other group, so they finally approved us.  But someone complained and then our charter was revoked without discussion.  The explanation we got was tortured in its logic.  They obviously didn’t want to tell us the real reason behind it. They refused to meet with us to discuss the matter, even after I wrote Carly Fiorina. 

A good friend of mine ran the Asian-Indian network group, which, as you can imagine, was primarily Hindu.  The company paid every year for them to have a Diwali celebration (the Hindu Festival of Lights, a religious event) on company property on company time.  When we asked why that group could have a religious festival when all we wanted was the ability to network and communicate, the Diversity VP acknowledged that she didn’t even realize it was a religious festival. 

It all worked out fine, though.  To HP’s credit they let us use the email system for prayer requests and informal communications.  Many wonderful things were accomplished with that.  We could use conference rooms for lunch time Bible studies.  In some ways it was better to be an unofficial group than an official one, because that way we didn’t look too “corporate.” 

It also gave us a great witness opportunity.  I found out later that the leaders were amazed that we didn’t protest and complain like other groups did.  We didn’t agree with their decisions, but we always responded graciously and didn’t disrupt the workplace. 

The “Day of Silence” and “Diversity Week” programs at businesses and schools are a joke.  They aren’t about diversity at all.  They are aggressively promoting a particular worldview – and doing so with the power of the State in the case of the schools.  If they want to champion real diversity, how about inviting people with opposing views, such as those who view homosexual behavior as immoral yet think the homosexuals themselves should be treated with kindness and dignity and protected from abuse?  Now that would be real diversity.

I really encourage you to watch these videos and check out this site.  This is going on in public schools – elementary schools – today!

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14 thoughts on “Disingenuous Diversity”

  1. Neil,

    This is a wonderful post. The place where I work has a huge diversity program, and I have yet to hear of a Christian group. You’ve stirred my interest in that direction. A while back, Dan and I had talked about this too, and he also had suggested I should bring it up. Your post has brought more light into a possible path. I’ll keep you posted.

    And yes – those videos are very troubling. I would be so upset if my children were exposed to such ideas in such deceiving way. Are elementary schools supposed to teach this stuff? What happen to 2+2?

    Edgar,

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  2. Our Public High School has an officially sponsored Christian Group. No other religious clubs are listed.

    Some Somali parents got together and formed a parent group independant of the school district, to help other Somali parents integrate better. They arrainged a meeting with the school staff, and called it “Somali Family Night”

    I know a Jewish parent who is really ticked off by the “special treatment”.

    Sitting on the outside of all this, I remember how important it was to me as a Christian child that Christians were so persecuted. We had persecutions stories at every youth group meeting and Sunday School class, it seemed. Persecution stories from the Bible, from history, from modern times.

    Now, I hear them from every single group…now that I have started listening. Everyone thinks they are persecuted more than any other group. Everyone repeats and treasures those stories, nursing their grudges.

    It seems a little sad to me.

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  3. Haven’t seen the videos (too much work to do for a paycheck and for home stuff). I work for a competing computer company and yes I see the move to diversity. However, I work “in the field” and we’re all work from home now. Since there’s no office to go to, there’s very little here in the way of Christian groups, Hindu groups, GLBT, etc. Maybe it’s different in the locations where lots of folks work.

    When we do have an office party (they have dwindled down the last few years), it typically has a Christian leaning. If we have a sit-down mean, someone says grace at the beginning. Typically, it’s one of the older men who are known to be active in their church.

    Also, official emails are sent out in times of personal crisis, asking for prayer. Recently, one worker’s son came back from Iraq with major injuries. An email went out through various chains (from management) suggesting how we could help, prayer was at the top of the list. (As a side note, the company stepped up quickly to some of the other requests).

    As for the schools, a lot of the “diversity” hasn’t reached us yet in SC. My son is part of a Christian group that meets every Friday morning (as I type, he’s getting ready). I don’t believe there are other religious groups. They have some “gay” students, but no gay groups.

    Yes, I believe it’s coming, we just haven’t gotten there yet. Pray that we can last a few more years…

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  4. Hey Randy – I agree – I’m hoping we can hold out a while longer here as well. Our schools sound a lot more like yours.

    Edgar – let me know if you want any information on what we did to get chartered. There were pros/cons to the whole thing. The prayer chain was perhaps the best part. It was nice to be able to send requests to literally hundreds of people. Of course, it needed a little babysitting – we had to make sure people always bcc’d the requests, didn’t send chain letters, didn’t put in anything inappropriate, etc. I used it countless times. I always asked people permission first but no one ever said, “No.” Even Buddhists, atheists, etc. liked the idea of others praying for them. We generally left out full names and such.

    Teresa – agreed – the victim mentality can get tiring. As Christians we are told to pray for the persecuted and those in prison (somewhere in Hebrews, I think). It isn’t that we are the only ones ever persecuted, though. Part of it is counting the cost before one follows Christ.

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  5. Part of the problem with diversity programs is that they start with the premise that we are different.
    Well, of course we are different, we have different physical features and different experiences.
    But, too often we forget that our similarities are far greater than our differences.

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  6. Sunday School Teacher,

    I agree, people ARE more alike than different. And yet, those differences are magnified by a sense of identity.

    So we magnify our differences, and we focus on the things that seperate us from other people and make “our groups” whatever they may be, uniquly ours.

    How do we do that without hurting others?

    Diversity programs are an attempt to make a set of rules for how we can be unique together.

    That some people misapply or misuse themm, or that some of them are badly designed or implemented is unfortunate.

    I think that some of the problem is that some groups have (in the past) enjoyed a certain higher level of favor, and they see themselves as being “punished” for being asked to share conditions that other groups have always endured.

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  7. Last year students in my school district participated in a “Day of Silence” and it went along smoothly, which is fine, however they also allowed others to wear t-shirts that stated “Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve”. I believe that both parties are to be commended for exercising their rights to free speech. Both sides’ participants demonstrated courage.

    However, the divergency caused a bit of friction, but I think the administration got this one right. Afterwards they had a school “town meeting” which was moderated – to make sure it stayed under control – for both sides to voice their opinions. I feel that the Administration and the Social Studies Department made this a rather commendable learning experience where divergent views were open for public discussion, rather than angry silence, or angry voices. What ensued was a dialogue. That is good for all members of a society.

    I also have read that most modern agencies are making sexual preference/orientation as a criteria for diversity in leadership roles of their organization. I wouldn’t agree with this as a rule. I do not like calculations to create diversity, but I tend to view people as a person who happens to be a woman, black, Asian, or homosexual, and not the other way. Perhaps the emphasis needs to be reassigned to focus on our humanity, with other factors perhaps as considerations, but to emphasize what unites us as humans and not that which divides us.

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  8. Voice,

    Last year, a student wore a shirt on the Day of Silence that said that homosexuality is a sin (or something to that effect). He was ordered to go home and change; when he cited his First Amendment rights to not do so, he was disciplined, quite severely. Afterwards, he and his family sued; the Ninth Circuit voted 2-1 against him, and the Supreme Court vacated the decision (thankfully).

    (Harper v. Poway High, I think, if you are interested.)

    That stuff upsets me, in that students are not allowed to express any dissent. There are fairly rational reasons to oppose homosexuality (personally, I do not), and it actually benefits gay students to understand why other people are resisting them.

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