As social issues & personal identities become more dynamic and nuanced, legal troubles–like, discrimination lawsuits–increase as well. (I’ve got a theory about that.)
Companies do what they can to cover their bases–they inform their people, bring in enrichment speakers, host summits, & many have hired Chief Diversity Officers. Limiting liability as people become more nuanced is crucial for any organization (seriously, go read that theory).
CDOs, like Marilu Marshall from Estēe Lauder, explain their roles and visions as such:
The need to respect and embrace individual differences feels more urgent now than ever, in a world where political tensions seem to be widening the divides amongst us. [. . .] Today, as Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer at The Estée Lauder Companies, I believe it is crucial to continue to foster a culture of inclusion and diversity–in our global society, in our country and in our Company.
Those are good goals, nice verbiage. And I can connect with Ms. Marshall’s experience–she’s the child of Cuban parents, I’m a biracial Texas gal… when you have that type of Otherness going on, you grow to appreciate the importance of learning, respecting, and understanding the walks others have taken through this life. There’s a lot of heart that can go into d&i.
But, CDOs are just people.
They’re not immune to inherent bias. They’re not above prejudice, discrimination, or being kinda ignorant to their underlying impulses and conditioning, just like ang other person.
And I did a little experiment that led me to conclusion. No, it wasn’t the experiment of being a brown-skinned woman in a world where those traits don’t get you much consideration. I made up for that with being a big-mouth, sometimes-b!tchy, broad.
This was an actual experiment on LinkedIn for which I created a fake, male profile. Then, I wrote messages to CDOs and other operations managers that were either neutral, or tailored–“as a LGBT man/woman”-type changes appropriate for the profile’s demographics–and sent from my real account and the fake male one.
The messages were identical.
The senders were not.
And, yeah, the results were exactly what you think they were. Take a look:
If ever there proves the need to bring some HM into your jam, it should be ASAP. With all the talk, it’s time for the truth to back it up. Don’t just talk the talk. Walk the walk. And so many people proved their inherent bias–it probably skews their work more than they realize.
“Nobody sees anybody truly but all through the flaws of their own egos.”–Tennessee Williams
That LOL set me off. Like, what kind of unprofessjonal prickishess? Can you imagine a dude LOL’ing another dude? Or someone older? What a disrespectful thing to do…[takes a moment to calm the throat-slitting Jean Grey fire inside]
It’s nothing new, though. I’ve played games with people my whole life, testing how ideas and/or statements are received by others based on the messenger. The medium is the msssage, as they say. And, time and again, it’s come out that people aren’t really listening or interested, or they don’t “like” aggressive women, or they don’t hear women s voices… so many excuses. And you know what excuses are like…
No matter how you slice it… Inherent bias is real.
Inherent bias impairs.
Don’t Diversity under the influence.
Ha… you’ll get a DUI.