The Focus Is Still Not On Women and People of Color…
An idea was crafted around workplace diversity, shared, leaked and then explosion! If this is diversity we were speaking about, why is the focus STILL not on women and people of color?
“A man lost his job.”
“A white man lost his job.”
“The workplace is not safe for men to express their ideas.”
“Why would they fire him? Women have even commented that he has some fair points.”
“Men don’t feel safe to share ideas around diversity at work.”
“White males rage and rush to aide to bring justice to yet another victimized white male…” Ok, this last one was more me than anything else, but the rest is pretty much all I have been reading in regards to this diversity or “anti-diversity” manifesto. The focus is nowhere near the topic at hand!
What is diversity within the workplace? I will tell you what it’s NOT.
Diversity in the workplace is not a safe space for diversity. Mostly because the narrative is regularly shifted to the white male. How do we keep their feelings safe while exposing them to truths? TRUTHS!
Let me hit y’all with some truths.
Women and people of color are underrepresented in engineering. When hired, they do not stay. They do not stay because the culture is not welcome to them. They do not stay because there is no fair or equal opportunity at promotions. They do not stay because they do not feel safe being their authentic self. They do not stay because they don’t feel safe addressing these concerns. They do not stay…
This is common among most women and people of color I know. And this is not new. The reality is, the outcome of “that guy at Google” is just a small taste of what has been happening to women and POC for years! And no one is waging a war on Google about that (because trust it happens there too), or any other organization it is happening within for that matter.
A personal experience: a few years back I addressed some areas at work that were making me uncomfortable. I was experiencing racism, discrimination and all around unfair behavior. I initially addressed these concerns with patience and hope, organizing meetings around the materials and facts. I strove to educate and inform and tirelessly bring awareness to what was happening. I encouraged and created platforms for other women and people of color to express their same issues and ideas. It was only a matter of time before these initiatives shifted and were then focused on the white male.
No, I was not met with “sorry we must protect white men,” but what I was met with was a system that naturally protected that of the majority; that’s right you guessed it! White men.
It was incredibly apparent that because the organization was geared towards a “safe” environment, they opted to minimize the issue and fend for the majority. Attempts at finding safe spaces to address these issues were lacking and even when what would be considered the appropriate channels were taken to speak openly about the issues, they still defended the majority.
So I left. I wasn’t fired, but I can assure you the feelings were the same.
The question I ask now is, where were my boycotts and people publicly speaking out for me? Where were helping hands ready to usher me into my next role before the papers of my dismissal even dried? Where was the support of the men who benefitted from the work I had done within the organization? They were nowhere to be found.
And this is the issue. White men were still the focus because I was the “problem”.
Women and people of color are regularly fighting this fight of diversity alone and being fired for or outed because of their ideas around it! And no one knows, and even better, no one even cares. Why? Because it has nothing to do with the ideal persons within engineering, the majority. These people are not white men. They are people not even perceived to be fit for the role they have, in the first place, so nan to them that leave on these accounts.
So back to this narrative of “a white man lost his job.” He sure did. The reality about this is, women and people of color are growing tired of this same narrative. They are growing tired of walking on eggshells so as to protect life from happening to the white male. They are tired of losing out on opportunities and fair treatment at work in spite of the inflexible, succored ideals of engineering. And they should be.
Diversity in engineering is no longer just about getting butts in the seats, it’s about fairness, safety and business. And this is where we are now.
Google, whether intended or not, made a statement. Because of their public circumstances, they pivoted FOR ONCE in the direction of the minority. They stepped away from the preverbal narrative and heard what has been outlined as safety measures for a diverse environment. Now, there are still questions as to why they did this, be it because the piece was leaked, or they were acting on their own judgement, what is apparent is they responded with what is normal action for anyone else and exercised it with a white male. They acted fairly.
In this instance, Google was brought to see what has been in such high demand; a safe space for people to be seen, feel valued and accepted. Like most companies their size, they have resources for diversity. They have rules in place for proper treatment and conduct within their workspace. They have done this in an effort to help those with varying ideas seek assistance. Within this organization they have conditions in line for safety; FOR EVERYONE. Including white males with ideas of their own. This should be the focus.
Recognizing the needs of all those in a working environment, a resource needs to be in place to handle situations like these. That’s just good business. For those who cant or don’t understand this can see it another way. Google made a proper business decision — not a moral one. This is not in the firing of this man, but in the preservation of diversity within their organization. They made claims in the way to diversify and support their employees, and they finally acted on it. This meant being fair and treating all people the same among good and bad circumstances. What this man experienced is the same that would have happened to anyone who made wild and bold statements against instated conduct. It wasn’t in his ideas that he was reprimanded, but in his mindless delivery, and to that, there were consequences.
At this point, we can talk all we want about an alternate handling of this situation and even agree to disagree about many areas outlined in this whole case. We can even argue whether these ideas were even valid ideas at all. But that is aside the point of the conversation in the first place.
So again I ask, why are we not keeping focus and discussing diversity? It is buzzword’s finest contributor in this day: Diversity and Inclusion. Instead of it being merely words we use to boast about how “liberal” we are, it is now something to be practiced. Right now it is beyond impossible to side step the reality of it. And so, with this manifesto, it is about time we take the attempts at diversity, and care for them seriously.