Five Feet of Fury posts this article about complaints of racism in Canada's Department of Justice, and the predictable reaction to the complaint: mandatory diversity training.
Having been a victim of mandatory diversity training myself, a flood of unpleasant memories overcame me, and the anger that was present after 16-hours-over-two-days of that hell has returned.
That's right: anger. I remember thinking at the time that attending this class might, at least, be educational and make me a better manager. It did no such thing. Instead, it made me furious, it reinforced some negative stereotypes about certain minority groups, it made me wonder why some people view the world as they do, and then it made me physically ill.
The very idea of Diversity Training is predicated upon two contradictory premises that one is expected to believe are both absolutely true;
A. That white male culture is inherently racist, sexist and homophobic.
B. That selected classes of minorities are innocent victims. Always.
I shan't bore you with details, but after about two hours of this 'training' I was thoroughly convinced of the following;
1. Diversity training is a sham; it exists as a method by which large corporations (and now it seems, government offices) try to avoid or lessen the impact of, lawsuits,
2. Companies and contractors that provide this service are simply taking advantage of a niche market created by the irrational guilt of white liberals, the undirected rage of certain subsets of minorities, and the fear that boards of directors have of the courtroom,
3. Diversity training is deliberate psychological torture which is designed to put White Heterosexual Christian Man in his place by placing him in a room with a bunch of angry 'others' who are encouraged, nay emboldened, to revile him with the worst invective, dressed up in polite language and under the guise of a learning exercise. The giveaway is always the point in the exercise where the instructor/inquisitor rolls out some version of the "you are a racist, but don't mean to be, or even realize you are; it a reflexive, and unconscious behavior which is deeply-rooted in your culture" routine. There it is: you're a racist, even when you aren't one -- you just don't realize it, and you can't help yourself.
4. Some people are just incessant whiners with no sense of objectivity, or any ability to be truthful with themselves about themselves. Everything must be someone else's fault. The worst offenders cannot explain the reason why they whine, they just do, or rather, believe they should. Even when given the opportunity to explain their concerns in a supposedly-open forum where no one will retaliate (theoretically) against them, many seem unable to elaborate on their grievances, or the basis for those grievances and accusations. Everything eventually boils down to 'feelings'. Even the most successful minorities in the room seem to harbor these feelings which can't be explained.
5. I heard more overt racism and hatred in a Diversity Training class than I ever heard in the office. In fact, I heard more of it inside that classroom than I did as a child growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970's. Even more than in the schoolyard or the Subway! And none of it was spouted by a straight, White Guy.
Do racism, sexism, bigotry of all sorts, exist? Sure they do. Despite the best efforts of mankind, they will never disappear. Do white men walk into the office everyday thinking "Which nigger/queer/Jew/woman/cripple can I fuck with today?" Hell, no. Do white men walk into the office thinking "My culture is superior to all others, and I will make sure those nasty subhumans know it!" Try again.
People who think that way, incidentally, hardly ever gain a position within a company from whence they can act upon that kind of thinking for the very reason that business is a co-operative effort and, as a manager, you need to keep your worker bees relatively happy in order to maintain your corner office. Those who can't look past their prejudices and who hold such notions very quickly fail or get tagged as 'not a team player'.
What does happen, in my experience (nearly two decades on Wall Street) is that it is the White Males who happen to be the ones who work the hardest. It's White Males who have the desire to succeed in the world of ruthless competition, and who are usually willing to go the extra mile and take on extra work, work overtime, or who actually spend their own time trying to figure out solutions to the problems of their jobs.
It's also been my experience that in recent years, it has been White Females who have been moving into the ranks of middle and upper management in astounding numbers. I've worked for female bosses before, and the overwhelming majority were just as tough, smart and competent as their male predecessors, and sometime, even tougher (I believe in the adage that to succeed in a 'man's world', a woman probably has to behave twice as manly). In any case, it reveals an interesting dilemma that was amply illustrated in the last election; on the list of 'most worthy victims' who comes first -- the black guy or the white woman?
Hell, I've worked for more openly-homosexual managers (of both sexes, or is it three nowadays?) than I care to count or to remember!
Perhaps the whining pansies who have made Diversity Training a standard feature on the list of bullshit-every-white guy-must-endure-to-continue-to-collect-a-paycheck might want to re-think this Blame-the-White-Guy routine? But then again, thinking was never the strong suit of those who accuse others of racism and hide behind their own while they do it.
In the meantime, Diversity Training is a nothing more than a safety valve; it allows minorities to believe their concerns are being taken seriously, it keeps the CEO out of the courtroom, saves the shareholder money, it gives the appearance that Straight White Men are being chastised.