Diversity Training is toxic
We live in CRAZY times.
It seems like every day there is a new case of “racism”, and a new person, cartoon, figure, etc. that’s being called to get “canceled” so that everyone knows exactly who they are. At this point, I’m over it. If everyone is a racist, is everyone really a racist? The term gets thrown around far too much these days, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to determine what the definition of racist even is anymore.
For reference, according to Merriam-Webster, racism is defined as:
- a belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
- the systemic oppression of a racial group to the social, economic, and political advantage of another
If you think about everything going on in America right now, it almost seems like the people who want to cancel everyone for being a racist, and calling that we uplift certain voices on the basis of skin color and/or a particular identity, are in fact the real racists. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. What’s even more concerning, however, is that because there are so many “toxic white males” in the world, diversity training is experiencing a boom in business, and I question whether or not that is the intention.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that every company has its issues. To say that any organization is perfect, would be absolutely ridiculous. However, when people make claims of discrimination based on race, sex, and/or sexual orientation, are they based on the feelings of the individual putting forth the claim, or are they based on clear evidence? Too much of what we’re dealing with in society today is rooted in feelings, rather than in facts.
I was compelled to read this article from Business Insider, titled “ 30 current and former Mailchimp employees detail the conditions that led to a ‘mass exodus’ of women and people of color.” There were some interesting insights that I got from the article, most notably that the company culture of Mailchimp is highly toxic, and something does need to be done about it, but that an increase in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion programs may not necessarily be the answer. Shareka Nelson was hired to be Mailchimp’s first director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), and as the article states, “Nelson was genuinely committed to making Mailchimp more inclusive and equitable: she dug into pay data, asked executives to read books on racial justice, and held DEI meetings open to the whole company, current and former employees said.” My question is: How does asking people to read books on racial justice and meetings open to the whole company where certain individuals are going to be called out as being “racist”, make for a more inclusive culture?
To be clear — I’m not trying to put people out of jobs here. It just seems strange to me that companies would want to hire anyone for a DEI department within their company, only to further segregate a company culture based on identity. Wouldn’t the better option be to instead have events where employees can be in a more chilled out atmosphere and bond over activities that foster teamwork, rather than team division? Wouldn’t it make more sense for employees to see that they’re more alike than not? It almost seems like diversity training programs, along with DEI departments in general, aim to bring back segregation that way they can have an increase in business.
I truly believe that people, regardless of what they identify as, should always be judged based on their work ethic, character, and integrity. In these challenging times, you can’t even critique someone’s work ethic, character, or integrity, IF they have a particular identity. Case and point, the outrage that the publication AdAge experienced after publishing an article titled “The CMO Most Likely To Jump Jobs in 2021”, which was a critique of the current Netflix CMO, Bozoma Saint John, who has held “four top posts at iconic brands in the last four years, including Uber, Endeavor and Apple Music, making her resume one of the most accomplished in the marketing industry and her skills the most sought-after”, as written in Essence. The title of the article itself was later changed, a result of the outrage that people had over it. How do we build the strong companies of the future, if we can’t even be honest with ourselves and our co-workers about their true impact on the company they’re working for, and/or their own integrity?
This seems to be a large issue in Silicon Valley. Companies are being forced to deal with their “deep-rooted prejudices against marginalized identities”, and to institute diversity training programs that tell white people that they are both racist and the problem why there is such a “lack of diversity” in tech. I personally have a HUGE problem with this. I think that a lot of times, people don’t dig more deeply into issues, they paint a broad stroke as a means to shame people into acting in the way that they’d like people to act. According to Thomas Sowell in Race and Culture, “…segregation as an employer policy cannot be inferred from group-representation statistics, which are readily influenced by the varying skills and choices of the groups themselves. This is not to deny that deliberate group segregation by employers has existed and continues to exist, but rather that mere numbers do not define or demonstrate its existence.” Given this insight, it’s disingenuous for individuals to say that racism or any other -ism is the cause of a lack of diversity when it might just be that members of specific identity groups tend to favor certain fields of work over others. As a society, we need to think more critically about the overarching claims we make and get up in arms over, rather than blame it all on white people or the patriarchy.
In all honesty, I am looking forward to the day when there are NO DEI departments at companies. In a truly diverse and inclusive society, people aren’t going to hold back telling someone the truth about the quality of their work, because there will always be that underlying respect for each individual. In an ideal world, people will have dealt with their own personal shortcomings, so that they don’t take it personally when someone critiques them. When an individual is so sensitive that they can’t be critiqued, it creates a very toxic culture, whereby people are walking on eggshells and become passive-aggressive. This will ultimately lead to job segregation, another point made in Race and Culture:
“Differences of language, as well as intergroup animosities, can lead to such segregation policies, whether or not the employer himself has any antipathy toward any of the groups in question… What job segregation of this sort does imply is that there are higher costs of employing mixed groups of incompatible workers than in employing more homogenous groups of workers, whether those costs originate in language differences, lifestyle differences, or intergroup animosities.”
I believe that one of the greatest battles of our society today is that people just don’t seem to be secure in themselves anymore. Given that Silicon Valley hires individuals from some of the top schools in the country, it behooves one to think that maybe we should question what people are being taught in the universities about their own capabilities. I attended Smith College for undergrad, and one of the main things I can remember from my time there is being subjected to all this social justice warrior talk, telling myself and other students that women and POCs have to try ten times harder just to get ahead because the “white male patriarchy” didn’t want to see others win. It took some time to recover from this indoctrination, but once I did, I realized that it’s not that other people are the reason that one might not succeed, but instead the individual themself. Ultimately, being secure in oneself and one’s abilities is paramount to one’s success.
Speaking from personal experience, when I was an insecure individual, I always needed validation for my work. If I did not receive that validation or I was criticized, I took it as a personal attack. Because of this, I had a huge chip on my shoulder, and my ego made it so that I was incapable of taking personal accountability for my own role in the situations I found myself in. I think much of what we’re seeing today is a result of the fact that many individuals who are considered marginalized, may not be all that secure or confident, and with their new rise to power given all the focus on diversity, they’re striking back and making those who’ve historically felt pretty secure in themselves, pay the price of their own confidence. Much of the time when an individual is being “targeted”, it has less to do with racism and more to do with that particular individual. Sowell writes, “Moreover, discrimination against a group as a whole must be distinguished from discrimination against particular individuals within a group.” It’s important for people to not take the easy way out and be intellectually lazy, and rather, to think about how they themselves might be at fault.
Another major issue I see with the current diversity obsession in Silicon Valley companies, as well as companies in general, is that the “diversity movement” has become more about tearing the whole thing down, rather than working to fix the real problems that these companies have. Fundamentally, individual people make up companies, so it is the individuals who must work on themselves first before companies can have healthier company cultures. Currently, the minority identities that have less representation feel emboldened to “make their voices heard” and shame those who don’t. This is not something new, however. Sowell writes, “In other countries as well, individuals far in advance of their own respective racial or ethnic groups have been so galled at being denied economic opportunities or social acceptance that they became leaders of movements to overthrow existing authorities and the existing social and economic order. Such political responses have not been the only responses, however.” Could this be the exact aim of many of the minority identities’ motives?
As Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.” That being said, if people are so upset about the “toxic white male” cultures in Silicon Valley and beyond, stop complaining, and start your own companies, whereby you can decide what culture you want to foster. Again, Sowell writes, “Yet another way in which undervalued individuals can be sorted out is self-employment-the individual’s own cost of knowledge of his capability and conscientiousness being less than anyone else’s cost of acquiring the same knowledge.” If only people had the belief in themselves to stop complaining and start doing. If no one wants to bet on you, find the confidence within yourself to bet on you. Start where you are, and trust that in due time, the heavens will open up to you. When you have a solid work ethic, character, and integrity, you will always win in the end, even if the road to get where you want to go is bumpier. The question is: are people willing to take the difficult route and do it on their own, or would they rather complain to get their way and not make a real difference for those coming up behind them?
In order to solve the problems that persist in our society today, the answer isn’t more diversity, equity & inclusion programs, and departments, it’s that people become honest with themselves and understand why they feel insecure about who they are and the work that they put forth into the world. People WILL criticize you, but when you have a strong sense of self, you won’t take it personally.
America — as well as the greater world — is not perfect. There is so much potential for things to get drastically better, but that will require an immense amount of personal accountability from every person on the planet about who they are in addition to their shortcomings. The only way to heal the world is to heal thyself. The past is the past, and all we have is the Now. People must become conscious of the unconscious deep-seated feelings they have about themselves in order to blossom into the person that God knows them to be. For clarification, I don’t mean this in a religious sense; I see God as the inner being within every person that is uniquely different from others. As Eckhart Tolle said in The Power of Now:
“Whatever you need to know about the unconscious past in you, the challenges of the present will bring it out. If you delve into the past, it will become a bottomless pit: There is always more. You may think that you need more time to understand the past or become free of it, in other words, that the future will eventually free you of the past. This is a delusion. Only the present can free you of the past.”
“The more attention you give to the past, the more you energize it, and the more likely that you make a “self” out of it. Don’t misunderstand: Attention is essential, but not to the past as the past. Give attention to the present; give attention to your behavior, to your reactions, moods, thoughts, emotions, fears, and desires as they occur in the present. There’s the past in you. If you can be present enough to watch all those things, not critically or analytically but nonjudgmentally, then you are dealing with the past and dissolving it through the power of your presence.”
In essence, the problems that we as a society and as humans are experiencing today, will not be solved by trying to right the wrongs of the past. We must be honest with ourselves and heal in the present, rather than lash out, and scream “racism”!
Seeing color is not the answer; healing is.
Originally published at https://cultured.substack.com.