When corporate diversity programs are like chicken wings
In America’s transactional culture, workplace diversity often amounts to slapping labels on individuals. Professionals wind up being packaged like products. They’re crammed into prefabricated molds (“Black woman,” for example) and get showcased to make the company look cutting-edge.
Emphasize look. Funny how the diversity hires tend to be excluded from meetings of decision-makers but are always included in the team photo op. This kind of diversity reminds me of chicken wings. Please indulge me for a moment.
“How many wings have we sold this week?” the fast-food managers asks. He must deliver for his bread-and-butter customer, the franchisee who has the power to fire under-performers. “How many minorities have we recruited this fiscal year?” the CEO asks. She must deliver for her prestige customer, the color-conscious twentysomething who has the power to brand that company as woke, extra-crispy woke, or original-recipe hostile.
The fast-food chain makes commodities out of nonhuman animals. The company does it to human animals. The fast-food chain strives to fulfill quotas. The company strives to flatter a quota-conditioned mentality, as if the value of an individual depends not only who each is but on whether each can meet an order.
In short, corporate diversity programs often use people for their labels. And it’s the opposite of inclusion.
I explained the difference between diversity and inclusion during my recent interview on “Modern Mentor,” a podcast that explores what helps and hinders success in the workplace. Listen to the 50-second audio clip below.
You could say that inclusion is “honest diversity.” I discuss what I mean in the 90-second clip below.
To recap: “Honest diversity” is inclusion because it makes every individual count. Honest diversity recognizes that even within groups, people can and often do think differently from each other, thus showing that they’re individuals and not just members of an amorphous mass defined by a label.
By contrast, “dishonest diversity” labels people and clumps them into groups. All people within that group are assumed to think the same way, thus erasing their individuality and suffocating the innovation that comes from harnessing different viewpoints.
Business executives must ask themselves: Do they want uniformity or individuality? In short, do they want mass-produced chicken wings or the ingredients for something that the world has not yet delighted in tasting?