…written by Gregg Ward (USA)
” In my work as a diversity consultant I often hear women and people of color quietly talking with each other about their white, male colleagues and bosses, saying “Most straight, white guys in the corporate world just don’t get it about diversity.” And although I’d like nothing better than to refute them, to defend my straight, white brethren, I’m afraid I have to agree: when it comes to diversity, we just don’t get it. So, at the risk of falling into the trap of generalizing about an amazingly large and diverse group of white guys, I have to ask: what is it about diversity that we don’t get and why don’t we get it?
The first thing we don’t get is that diversity is about lot more than just race and gender conflicts. We hear the word “diversity” and we automatically think racism, bigotry and discrimination against women and people of color. We don’t think about all the other issues underneath the diversity umbrella.
We do this because we white guys are a uniquely visual lot (no, I don’t have studies to support this, just 46 years of straight, white male experience). We focus on the surface diversity issues – race and gender – because they’re easy to see, not much time or thought required. We also do it because the media does it too; bombarding us 24/7 with stories about race and gender conflicts, with the word diversity in the headline. Stories about diversity conflicts drive ratings; you know, “if it bleeds, it leads.” And nothing bleeds like a black man being beaten by white cops, or women workers being the target of crude, sexual advances. So, like Homer Simpson, the quintessential straight, white guy, we take what we see at face value. We don’t have the time or inclination to look beneath the surface – doh!
And that’s the second thing we don’t get about diversity – how diverse it is. Take any group of 100 American employees working in any one of America’s major cities and you will find enormous diversity, not just of race and gender, but of national origin, religion, politics, disability, body type, veteran status, life experience, generation, talents, skills, and dreams. Yet, corporate leadership would have us think that we’re all employees first, marching to the same droning corporate drummer, and individuals second.
Understandably, their goal is to make the disparate divisions of any one company seem more united and thus more powerful and better able to compete. There’s nothing inherently wrong in this. But, by ignoring the enormous diversity that lies just beneath the surface, we are ignoring and failing to tap into the wealth of talent and experience that could help our businesses become even more competitive, even more innovative.
The third thing we don’t get about diversity is that American corporate culture is – at every level – the culture of the straight, white guy. From the railroad barons of the 19th century to the oil barons of the current one, the wealthiest, most powerful American corporations have always been dominated by straight, white males of western European origin. And our culture is one of fierce competitiveness, clubby, sports-centered machismo, and good-old-boy, golf course deal making. To claim otherwise would be laughable…”
Read the full article here
Check out straight white guy Gregg Ward’s site here