Corporate Diversity Training

Carl Horowitz
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Posted: Jul 14, 2007 12:00 AM
Corporate Diversity Training

If prostitution is the world's oldest profession, then corporate diversity training has to rank as one of the nastiest as well as newest. And it's considerably less honest. At least with a prostitute, a customer usually knows what he's getting in advance. A diversity trainer, on the other hand, is full of surprises -- at least for unsuspecting white employees. And they're not very pleasant surprises at that.

American corporations, contrary to their Far Left-manufactured caricature as bastions of "right-wing Republicans," have become boosters of anti-white racial and ethnic favoritism on a grand scale. Under the guise of "diversity," surely a more soothing and inclusive term than "affirmation action," our nation's largest companies have been busy during the last couple decades revolutionizing their respective organizations. If they remain profitable, that's despite the diversity regime they've forced upon employees, not because of it.

Diversity training and education has become a lucrative racket. At the invitation of their corporate benefactors, the people in this industry, whether working as in-house managers or as outside consultants, see as it as their mission to badger employees, especially white and/or male new hires, into availing themselves of prejudices ostensibly lurking deep within. Anyone doubting that intimidation is the name of the game should read "The Authoritarian Roots of Corporate Diversity Training," a new Special Report published by the National Legal and Policy Center.

Diversity training is a brief, intensive orientation program of lectures, audiovisual materials and role-playing exercises. In tone and substance, sadism rules the day. The training operates on an assumption that employees must be punished for sins not yet committed. CEOs typically openly tout diversity as integral to their respective company cultures. The Chrysler Group's Tom LaSorda is blunt about how he deals with subordinates who fail to promote diversity: "We'll kick their ass. They will be held accountable." Sprint's Gary Forsee, somewhat more benignly, states: "(A)ll Sprint Nextel managers are expected to embrace inclusion and diversity with their teams. This is an attribute of manager quality measured by our performance review process, which can impact bonuses."

Diversity, in the minds of such executives, is a full-time endeavor, something that must be lived, evaluated and reinforced every day, and not just during orientation. A company, wherever possible, must weave the diversity theme into relationships with board members, management, employees, suppliers, and anyone else with whom it does business.

A glossy monthly magazine, DiversityInc, makes sure that every company "gets it." The Newark, N.J.-based periodical each year comes out with a list of the nation's Top 50 Companies for Diversity. It's all about affirmative action and getting the requisite right numbers. "The Top 50 companies," writer Yoji Cole beamed last fall, "average 43 percent people of color in their new hires, while the national average for people of color in the work force is 28 percent. Almost 25 percent of Top 50 companies' managers are people of color, compared to 20 percent of the national work force. All of the Top 50 companies offer domestic-partner benefits for same-sex employees, compared with 49 percent of Fortune 500 companies."

The last thing any CEO or other management personnel wants is bad publicity from DiversityInc. It just might put a hold on career plans.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice for this state of affairs is a retired white elementary school teacher, Jane Elliott. A deceptively influential public figure, Mrs. Elliott got the ball rolling nearly 40 years ago with an exercise now common in schools, corporations, government agencies and other organizations.

On April 5, 1968, the day after Martin Luther King's assassination, she asked her third-grade pupils in tiny Riceville, Iowa, "How do you think it would feel to be a Negro boy or girl?" Pause. "It would be hard to know, wouldn't it, unless we actually experienced discrimination ourselves. Would you like to find out?" A chorus of "Yeahs" went up. She'd clearly planned for this moment.

Without prior parental approval, Elliott proceeded to divide the room up into "blue-eyed" and "brown-eyed" students, proxies for white and black. She subjected "blue-eyed" pupils to a steady stream of verbal abuse, while giving preferential treatment to those who were "brown-eyed," encouraging them as well to taunt their peers. The next school day, she turned the tables -- it was the brown-eyed students' turn to suffer. But she noticed something this time. The blue-eyed students didn't take full advantage of their newfound upper-caste status. Eureka! Here was proof, or so Mrs. Elliott thought, that black underachievement was purely a product of white-dominated constructions of reality. The blue-eyed students had learned to empathize.

About a month later, thanks to student letters to the local paper, her exercise came to attention of Johnny Carson. She accepted his invitation to appear on "The Tonight Show." On the set, she gave a brief demonstration of her exercise. Once back home, she encountered hostility among her fellow teachers. Her children caught quite a few taunts from classmates, too.

The frosty local reaction merely hardened Mrs. Elliott's conviction that white America desperately needed her "training." She continued to push the exercise on her students. ABC-TV took notice, and in 1970 the network aired a documentary, "The Eye of the Storm," showing her in action. Later, in the mid 80s, as she was winding down her teaching career and beginning to apply her reprehensible talents to the corporate sector, PBS television did its own Jane Elliott documentary, "A Class Divided."

The Eighties were the right time to redirect corporate America toward a different path. Civil-rights attorneys, aided by the U.S. Justice Department, were discovering they could rack up huge settlements against companies guilty of allegedly discriminatory behavior. Corporate officials, in turn, saw hiring diversity trainers as a way of protecting their companies from lawsuits.

The industry took off like a rocket, packaged with egalitarian enthusiasm. The early leaders in diversity education, as Ryan O'Donnell noted several years ago, had their origins on the far Left. Marilyn Loden, Elsie Cross, Judith Katz, Mark Chesler, Lillian Roybal Rose, Tom Kochman and Price Cobbs -- all drew inspiration from their experiences in higher education and civil-rights radicalism. The result, not unpredictably, was an upsurge in discrimination and harassment complaints, more than 200 percent during 1991-2002.

A new retailing niche simultaneously emerged. The Jane Elliott training film library now includes such scintillating titles as "Blue-Eyed," "The Angry Eye," "The Stolen Eye," and "The Essential Blue-Eyed." National MultiCultural Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based diversity consultant, aggressively promotes her videos over the Web. So does the Encino, Calif.-based Business Training Media, Inc., which sells "The Essential Blue-Eyed" for $299.99. The company excitedly describes its contents:

Elliott divides a multiracial group of Midwesterners on the basis of eye color and then subjects the blue-eyed members to a withering regime of humiliation and contempt. In just a few hours, we watch grown professionals become distracted and despondent, stumbling over the simplest of commands. People of color in the group express surprise that whites react so quickly to the kind of discrimination they face every day of their lives.

Apparently, there is nothing like "a withering regime of humiliation and contempt" to boost profits. At least that's what many of today's CEOs want to believe.

All of this is rooted in a bitterly anti-white worldview. Here's a sample of Jane Elliott's factually-challenged wisdom in a Web interview circa 1998:

You're all sitting here writing in a language [English] that white people didn't come up with. You're all sitting here writing on paper that white people didn't invent. Most of you are wearing clothes made out of cloth that white people didn't come up with. We stole these ideas from other people. If you're a Christian, you're believing in a philosophy that came to us from people of color.

Move over, Louis Farrakhan, you've got competition from a white woman. That General Electric, ExxonMobil, AT&T and IBM, among other major corporations, have brought her in to personally lead training sessions ought to strike one as alarming. Her standard daily fee, at least as of several years ago, was $6,000.

Every diversity educator in a real sense is ratifying the legacy of Jane Elliott. That includes those who practice their craft abroad. One of her close associates in Great Britain, a black woman named Gillian Neish, has her own consulting operation. "We are committed to anti-racist, anti-oppressive ways of working and to making equity a reality," reads her website, www.neishtraining.com. A disillusioned government diversity specialist recently described the consequences of such rhetoric:

You cannot overestimate the damage to race relations that "diversity awareness" training is causing in this country. It's having the opposite effect to that intended, causing divisions, resentment, and an increase in judgments based on race, where previously such things were actually quite rare. How do I know this? I was involved in putting together a diversity "toolkit" for a government department, and saw first-hand the effect it had as it was rammed down the throats of staff.

Corporate officials point to such training as necessary to the bottom line. For them, diversity awareness "connects" their company with underserved populations. Without it, a firm will be at a competitive global disadvantage with companies flexible enough to reach out.

Many companies thus have created their own diversity departments. The specialists who run them aren't bashful about their motives. Deborah Dagit, executive director of diversity and work environment for Merck & Co., states, "We've been so nationalistic for so long that we don't recognize how we interact in the rest of the world." Company executives are delighted to have such people aboard. A number of years ago, IBM's then-CEO, Louis Gerstner, proudly introduced to his board Ted Childs, the company's new vice president of global workforce diversity, as "the most relentless man I've ever met."

All of this has relevance to immigration debate. Diversity education and evaluation, company officials reason, are a sound approach to accommodating the rising percentage of nonwhites in the U.S. work force. Instrumental to this shift, outside of native-born blacks, has been mass immigration. Our "need" for diversity training in large measure is a product of the 1965 amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Mass immigration from Third World nations, especially Spanish-speaking countries in the Western Hemisphere, effectively operates as a de facto affirmative-action hiring program, a reality the late Hugh Davis Graham explained in his book, "Collision Course: The Strange Convergence of Affirmative Action and Immigration Policy in America," (Oxford University Press, 2003). Congress made this connection quite explicit back in 1990 when it created the "diversity lottery" visa. The program annually admits up to 50,000 persons to the U.S. originating from nations that have sent no more than 50,000 immigrants over the previous five years. By no coincidence, Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., an affirmative-action enthusiast without peer, led the charge for this piece of legislation.

In this context, it is quite understandable why major corporations have become fanatic about rooting out the tiniest hints of racial-ethnic bias from their respective organizations. It isn't simply that they want to avoid a Justice Department lawsuit. More to the point, they've come to accept the worldview of their Leftist tormentors. Peddling multiculturalism, of which Third World immigration is a variation, can render them as good corporate citizens, while providing a nearly inexhaustible supply of cheap labor.

Until Congress, immigration authorities, and the courts take steps to significantly restrict immigration, corporations will have a never-ending "need" for diversity -- and diversity trainers. Exacerbating ethnic and racial tensions under the pretext of alleviating them is a full-time job. And there are plenty of openings.