Friday, December 17, 2010

...And Since We're Talking About Diversity Training...

A few readers want to know just what kind of vile human being I must be in real life to have had so many experiences with Diversity Training (see: passing mention in previous post). They figure I must be the worst sort of racist/sexist beast, and openly wonder how it is that I've ever kept a job if how I write is how I behave in real life.

To begin with, I have been "sent" to Diversity Training four (4) times.

The first time, it was "required" by management as part of a company-wide policy, itself the result of a series of lawsuits. One of those lawsuits was brought about by members of my own staff, who contended that working in our department subjected them to a "hostile working environment" in which minorities were denied access to higher-skilled (and thus higher-paying) jobs, subjected to racist/sexist humor, and otherwise made to feel "uncomfortable". These complaints were directed mostly at higher management, not me, personally, and were presented as a form of "institutional racism" that direct supervisors (like me) were powerless to overcome, even by direct action. Never mind that the plaintiffs were all, almost to a man, routinely late for work, unprofessional, and on the lower end of the competency scale.

The argument was that it was the COMPANY itself that was racist, not the individuals who worked for it (it's difficult to pin anything on an individual in a court of law without evidence, and only hearsay on your side, you see, so you have to attack The Institution), and that the "racist" policies and tendencies of this inanimate, unconscious, ambiguous, amorphous entity have become part of the overall "culture". So, I was sentenced -- along with the 16,000 or so other people who worked there -- to mandatory Diversity Training. It was a 16-hours-over-two-days tour-de-force of absolute bullshit, where the overriding theme was that "You White-Christian-Male-Straight-Guys are the absolute worst excuses for human beings ever documented...but you don't mean to be, really."

If you've never disliked people before, listen to that kind of crap for two days and then you most certainly will be disgusted by just about everyone.

The Second Time, was when I made the mistake of responding to a vile tirade of a female co-worker by getting just as obnoxious as she did. This particular person was infamous for her foul language and off-color humor and peculiarly-sexual comments, especially about how nice my ass looked to her, and what she'd like to do with me if she ever got me alone. She didn't even make any of that a secret; she would often yell it across several rows of cubicles to me, and everyone got a chuckle out of it (especially the gay guys). It was never a problem between us to trade in these heated-one-day/good-natured-the-next/naughty-all-the-time exchanges, but there was always a healthy respect; a recognition that there were, indeed, boundaries that should not be crossed.

Until she came at me one day like a menstrual banshee for some piece of work important to one of her projects that I was going to be, unavoidably, late with. Then the good-natured-foul-mouthed ribbing became a dressing down of my inadequacies as a human being. To which I replied:

"Take it easy, Jean...Don't get your tits in a knot."

Now the woman who openly remarked about my bodily features and sexual desirability was suddenly mortally offended by my reference to hers. In my defense, though, she did have an awesome rack. Anyways, off to an 8-hour "refresher" course in Diversity for me. I only stayed employed because Jean was known to use the foulest, coarsest language, and to comment frequently and loudly on the looks of the men in the office. That cost me a bonus that year, too.

The third experience was another "mandatory" situation; I would have to complete the Diversity Course as a requirement of employment. It didn't matter that I had two previous "Training" sessions; they didn't count so far as XYZ Corp was concerned because it wasn't their Diversity Course. I spent more time in that classroom than I did working there, because it wasn't long after that my contract was cancelled when the project I was hired to work on was no longer considered necessary. That particular session was a laugh riot, because there were several Hispanic employees in the room complaining that they couldn't get promotions because they weren't native English-speakers.

The "instructor" in that cluster-fuck, herself Hispanic, would sometimes have to switch to Spanish in order to explain a concept to someone who couldn't understand it in English. You can't make this shit up.

My final experience with Diversity Training came when I had a black male employee complain to me that he was not considered for a job (I had hired another person, a black woman, no less), and that he felt that in not giving him the job, I was a racist, showing a definite bias against black men (who made up about half of my staff, at that time. None of them got the job, nor complained about it, either). He called me a racist about 17 times during this exchange, and my temper had finally gotten the best of me, so that I blurted out:

"You didn't not get that job because you're black; I didn't give it to you because you're a fucking retard!"

Well, you can't make that kind of remark, even if it happens to be true, so off to Diversity Training for me once again. Once more into the fray of whining people who don't realize just how fucking ridiculous they sound with their petty, and often-unprovable, accusations. Accusations they only make because they're a) encouraged to do so, and b) know they can get away with the worst exaggerations or baseless claims, and c) hope to extort something for nothing by making them.

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