Conflict


Sam’s Club CEO Labeled ‘Racist’ as a “Diversity” Advocate. Are They Right?

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As the fruits of 50 years of “The Diversity Paradigm” come to harvest time, are we seeing a society that has grown to appreciate human differences, embrace and value them in a harmonious culturally frictionless environment? Or are we instead seeing the intercultural differences-based competition intensifying in a shrinking economy? Are the advocates of differences-based mentalities catching the backlash and push-back from cultural belligerents on “the other side” in the ongoing culture wars?

Has The Diversity Paradigm finally carried many to the brink of reverse racism, a “diversityism” as an equal and opposite reaction to overt racism?  Many in fact react to recent comments by Rosalind Brewer as a creeping cultural bias toward the belief that absolutely anything that is all white can’t possibly be alright.  Brewer, Sam’s Club’s CEO, has stepped into a little yellow-jackets’ nest over her comments openly criticizing the racial and gender composition (i.e., male whiteness) of a supplier’s corporate team.

“ And I talk to my suppliers about it. Just today we met with a supplier, and the entire other side of the table was all Caucasian males. That was interesting. I decided not to talk about it directly with [the supplier’s] folks in the room because there were actually no females, like, levels down. So I’m going to place a call to him.

Wide public criticism is being leveled against those who make irrational assumptions about those of the Muslim faith, and those who make critical cultural decisions, like hiring, promoting or doing business with, based on superficial external appearances alone.

Perhaps the Sam’s Club CEO has adopted the same stance being encouraged by Homeland Security, “If you see something, say something.”  The pleasant vocal tones in Rosalind Brewer’s assessment, “That was interesting,” bears the same ominous tone as the phrase, “That was suspicious.”  Hardly subtle, the minatory implications of her comments are clear for Sam’s Club’s supply chain vendors. She wants to see race and gender differences.

Many might wonder, would her reaction have been the same if the team presented by her supplier was all African-American? Or was her reaction based on her personal perception of the supplier’s insensitivity to her race, failing to pay homage to her race and gender by providing at least one minority/female face on the team to make her more comfortable, for the sake of appearances, in accordance with the contemporary demands of “The Diversity Paradigm“? Would that simple tactic of inserting token race/gender have negated any need for CEO Brewer to “place a call to him?”

No reasonable person with any exposure at all to U.S. news reports can honestly claim that bias, intercultural fear and hatreds toward minorities do not dominate in social interaction. To put it mildly, commerce isn’t immune from those ills, either.

Yet, is it reasonable to ask, where is the red line in the other direction? Where hasThe Diversity Paradigm and its praxis brought America?  Is any company or organization that presents an all-white all-male face to its key audiencesautomatically under suspicion of internally colluding or conspiring to exclude racial minorities or women?  Is that a rational conclusion for a minority female CEO to make, let alone act upon?

These are the kinds of issues that bring to the fore the intractable cultural and economic conflict between Diversiphiles and Diversiphobes. It raises the awareness of the need to seek out and develop a less militaristic way of framing intercultural decision making. It calls out for a means of resolution that allows for reasonable people to avoid intercultural belligerency.  Like it or not, advocacy is a form of belligerency, even where the combatants are expert at slathering civility onto their message of conflict under the current paradigm of differences-based thinking.

Affirmative Action, a race-based remedy for past discrimination, was turned on its head in 1978 in the Supreme Court, and was itself labeled discriminatory in the matter of college admissions. In the case of the reactions to the Sam’s Club CEO, are we seeing indications of the same kind of ‘flipping the script’ on The Diversity Paradigm?

The question many are asking: ” In 2015, is it possible to walk into a room full of only white people and believe that there is nothing at all wrong with that?

Or does it truly strain credulity among Sam’s Club’s Diversiphiles that in many cases, an all-white, all-male group of representatives might actually be the best qualified to serve at least, say, 25% of the needs of Sam’s Club?

Does the demand for “diversity” make some ask, “Are qualifications no longer the primary issue at Sam’s Club?”

Diversity Guru, the late R. Roosevelt Thomas, Jr., got the copyright on his book, “Beyond Race and Gender” in 1991.  And yet, Rosalind Brewer’s expressed concerns over demographic composition went straight back to that pair.  It may be one of today’s most telling indications that “The Diversity Paradigm” hasn’t advanced very much beyond race and gender at all in the quarter century since the book’s first printing. In fact, it makes for a greater understanding of why Thomas, in 2007, lamented that “diversity is stuck, and it’s been stuck for a long time.”

Is there another more constructive and less combative way supported in law to approach the social dilemma? We think there is.

“Fear and loss” are at the core of all conflicts, struggles and wars. Operating under a scarcity mentality (resources are finite but human wants are infinite), forced “inclusion” for some will mean involuntary “exclusion” for others. The math demands it, and the methods will facilitate it…until the methods are undone.

The intent of Affirmative Action in law (1961 Executive Order 10925) was to create equal opportunities for all qualified people. For a while, it worked. Who then would have predicted that in less than twenty years, legal remedial Affirmative Action would be reframed as reverse discrimination? But irrational fear and real loss motivated combatants on the “wrong side” of the Order to begin looking for a case to undo it, and they found it in Bakke (1978).

Make no mistake about it. Fisher v. University of Texas and other cases like it have “Diversity & Inclusion” in the same cross hairs. Overt actions and open-air statements like those of the esteemed Rosalind Brewer will, in time, provide exactly the fodder for just such a case opposing Diversity & Inclusion advocacy within corporations.

It’s only a matter of time.

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Copyright © 2015 – Robert D. Jones – All Rights Reserved

 

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