Thursday, May 10, 2012

Diversity Thursday

Slowly ... more and more people are sticking their heads above the edge of the trenchline. There is still incoming fire, snipers, a whiff of gas in the air - and the fetid gore from those who went out to the no-mans/womyns land before. It is slightly safer .... Look who is coming out of the bunkers and taking a shot or two. Is that Psychology Today?
Diversity training doesn't extinguish prejudice. It promotes it.
A study of 829 companies over 31 years showed that diversity training had "no positive effects in the average workplace." Millions of dollars a year were spent on the training resulting in, well, nothing. Attitudes — and the diversity of the organizations — remained the same.

It gets worse. The researchers — Frank Dobbin of Harvard, Alexandra Kalev of Berkeley, and Erin Kelly of the University of Minnesota — concluded that "In firms where training is mandatory or emphasizes the threat of lawsuits, training actually has negative effects on management diversity."

Which shouldn't come as a surprise, actually. Anybody who has ever been scolded is familiar with the tendency to rebel against the scolding.

But it's deeper than that. When people divide into categories to illustrate the idea of diversity, it reinforces the idea of the categories.

Which, if you think about it, is the essential problem of prejudice in the first place. People aren't prejudiced against real people; they're prejudiced against categories. "Sure, John is gay," they'll say, "but he's not like other gays." Their problem isn't with John, but with gay people in general.

Categories are dehumanizing. They simplify the complexity of a human being. So focusing people on the categories increases their prejudice.
No, my actual name is not Peter Bregman.
The solution? Instead of seeing people as categories, we need to see people as people. Stop training people to be more accepting of diversity. It's too conceptual, and it doesn't work.

Instead, train them to do their work with a diverse set of individuals. Not categories of people. People.

Teach them how to have difficult conversations with a range of individuals. Teach them how to manage the variety of employees who report to them. Teach them how to develop the skills of their various employees.

And, while teaching them that, help them resist the urge to think about someone as a gay person, a white man, a black woman, or an Indian. Also help them to resist the urge to think about someone as "just like me" — that's a mistake too.

Move beyond similarity and diversity to individuality.
I know what you're thinking, "Sal, that is exactly what you preach. As a result, that story will get buried and the Diversity Bullies will call poor Peter all sorts of names and threaten him .... "

Well - of course the Diversity Bullies will come after him - after all, because their ideas can't be defended, all they can do is smear and attack. But the "ignore and bury" part ... wait ... what is that? CBS picked it up?
You would think that we would have learned something over the years, and stopped doing ridiculous trainings where we try to come up with the proper thing to say for every possible scenario. That, of course, is impossible. Add to that the fact that people hate any kind of mandatory training that they don't see as applicable to their jobs, and you end up with a situation where people think that A.) As long as they follow the exact formula explained in the the training when those exact situations occur they are fine; and B.) Joking about the boring and irrelevant nature of the training is fine. You end up with disaster.
I'll take a check in the WIN column ... but there is a long road ahead to our Navy fighting back against the ongoing smear campaign by the Diversity Bullies on their own payroll and to stop being the useful idiots of a socio-political cultural-Marxist movement.

Keep in mind - this is for many people a paycheck, nothing more. As part of the higher education bubble - universities produce graduates in disciplines that have no actual use. They have no real economic benefit and are good for only one industry; the Diversity Industry. What happens, BTW, when you actually threaten a Diversity Industry sacred cow, and the Diversity Bullies attack? Ask Naomi Schaefer Riley.

... and yes; it is time.

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