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Why does Corporate America need to Silo its Staff?

May 24, 2010

   You’re right; I’m talking about Diversity at the Work Place.  I’m reminded of it every day as I pass by this one hallway just outside of Human Resources.  I would give the name of the company, but there’s really no point.  In my humble opinion, they are all just as guilty as every other place I’ve worked at for the last couple of decades when Diversity has become such a hot topic.

They just don’t know what to do with their staff unless they can put them in a container, or silo, as I like to call it.  We have a slot for Asian Employees, Black, Hispanic, American Indian, Women, and Veterans.  Before I go any farther, I would like to apologize should anyone get offended by this article.  It is not my intent to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but I thought a perspective from a White person is warranted. 

To let you know of my background, I would like to offer the following.  I grew up in inner city Detroit – a mostly Black environment.  I’ve lived in San Diego, and Phoenix – a mostly Hispanic environment.  Women are approximately 50% of the population – so yes, I’ve worked with them in all sorts of capacity.  And, I’m a former U.S. Marine during peace time, but still a Veteran.  I guess I was raised, and molded differently more than most.  I was taught to respect everyone.  Treat others as you would like to be treated.  I was ordered to block out race, and/or gender. 

In the recent past, I have heard of honors going out for Best Hispanic Engineer of the Year, the Best Female Engineer of the Year, and the Best Black Engineer of the Year.  I always thought, How odd is that?  These companies dictate Diversity at the Work Place, but then don’t practice what they preach.  What could possibly be gained by drawing attention to their race and/or gender?  Shouldn’t simply the Best Engineer of the Year get the award based on their contributions, and not their race, and/or gender?  I think something is definitely wrong with their approach. 

I remember this one time back in St. Louis, my Lead got called on the carpet for not finding qualified candidates of other than young Caucasion persuasion.  To this day, I remember his “classic” response.  “I don’t care if they are Green, Young or Old, so long as they can do the job.”  They insisted that he look at this candidate, and look at that candidate.  He reiterated that they can’t perform the function for which my need exists.  They insisted that he could train them.  His reply was, “I don’t have time to train them, I want them to come in, and hit the ground running – PERIOD.”

This one time at Boeing, I was feeling overly aggressive for my point to be made, I inquired as to when the award for the White Engineer of the Year, or perhaps the Male Engineer of the Year award was happening.  The HR department promptly wanted to talk with me.  I explained that if they insist on singling out performance based solely on race, and/or gender, that I would like to offer equal consideration.  I was told that was racist.  REALLY?  Why?  Because I drew attention to my gender, and/or race? 

Maybe I have it all wrong, and for that I apologize, but if we are all equal, then can’t we, if we must, judge people on their performance alone?

Your thoughts would be appreciated.  Thanks!

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