Public Service Announcement: The following article is probably longer than desired. However, I am trying to cover a lot of basics where tyrants have invaded and are attempting to gain control.
Let me be perfectly clear; I do not care what you look like, your handicaps, abilities, or disabilities, or frankly, anything other than how you do your job and live your life to not interfere with other people’s freedom. Hence, when the discussion inevitably turns to diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace, I fully believe that you are the number one driver of equality and inclusion in the workplace and society. You choose to become offended if you feel not included at work. You decide to feel marginalized, and in choosing to feel marginalized, your choices and consequences are solely yours. Except, you demand your consequences be the problem of the business and community. That behavior is childish, selfish, and reveals your ignorance!
Does discrimination occur, absolutely; but discrimination does not disappear magically when a diversity, equality, and inclusion workplace initiative is launched! Discrimination does not disappear because someone passed a law. Your attitude, actions, and decisions are all choices you make that come with natural consequences for you. You drive your ability to be included the majority of the time. Individual choice and consequence are the reality never spoken of during DEI initiatives. Failure to include personal choice, assimilation, and consequence remains a glaring hole in DEI training topics.
Assimilation is the act of assimilating, and assimilating is all about taking in and understanding something fully. The Borg from Star Trek gave assimilation a bad name. Worse, some people erroneously proclaim that when you assimilate, you give up pieces of yourself. Assimilation is all about taking the best of you, adding to the best of us, and making the whole stronger than the individual parts. Yet, every DEI training I have been forced to attend has been pessimistic about assimilation and assimilating into a stronger whole. Assimilating is also about absorbing and integrating into a wider society or culture.
For example, a balanced diet includes non-favorite foods, but those foods are good for you. Your body assimilates the good and the bad foods consumed, eat enough poor nutritional foods, and the body suffers physical and mental health problems. Eat too many good foods, and your body will assimilate foods differently and possibly begin to reject certain foods. Hence, balance is needed to properly diet and strengthen the body. Extremes in food, like attitudes, are bad for the body as a whole. The same choice and consequence cycles that drive the assimilation of foods into the body are the same choices and consequences when applied to workplace assimilation into existing cultures. Extremes are hazardous to health!
Diversity is all about variety and including variety in a social environment. Diversity has been stretched to become a practice of including people of various backgrounds, ethnicities, and other societies into a greater community. The problem with the plastic second definition of diversity is the assumption that a variety of different people are automatically not wanted or desired in the social environment currently. History has never been kind to different people in a society. This is true of ethnicities, cultures, disabilities, and abilities, and nothing will change discrimination in any organization made up of human individuals.
A friend invited me to a bar; I was not accepted into that bar’s culture as I am a veteran and do not share other lifestyle choices of the bar’s dominant culture. Discrimination happens; if you choose to become offended by the selection of diversity in a community, that is your problem. I did not become offended at the other patrons in a bar and demand that they accept me, it did not matter to me one way or the other if I was accepted or not, and this should be the same stance everyone should be taking!
Of all the terms we are discussing, equality is by far the most plasticized, twisted, deformed, and dangerously laden with unnecessary baggage! Equality is all about a state of being equal. Equality comes from the “Rule of Law” and the application of “The Rule of Law” for all in society. Except, equality is not what is desired in the term equality when speaking of DEI, but “Social Equality.”
Social equality is a state of affairs in which all people within a specific society or isolated group have the same status in certain respects, including civil rights, freedom of speech, property rights, and equal access to certain social goods and services. Essentially, social equality is all about twisting “The Rule of Law” into exceptions for specific socially acceptable groups; instead of equality, social equality is all about bringing all onto unequal grounds before the law. There is no equality in social equality, ever!
Inclusion and Discrimination
Inclusion is all about the practice of being included. That’s it, the whole enchilada; inclusion is all about being included. However, what does it mean to be included; here is where ideas like fit, temperament, desire, and choice and consequences enter a social group, community, or organization. Where DEI is concerned, inclusion is all about shifting the margins, dropping the individual decisions, and forcing all to be lumped together regardless of personal desire. Worse, inclusion is forced with the power of law without regard; hence all are injured in an attempt to be “socially inclusive.”
Discrimination is the unfair or prejudicial treatment of people and groups based on characteristics such as race, gender, age, or sexual orientation. Except, discrimination happens all the time, and efforts to be more “inclusive” have done nothing to reduce discrimination. I was hired for an inside sales position with a 90-day trial period. My wife dropped off some equipment I had left at home one day. The bosses learned my wife is older than I am; from that day to the end of my trial, when I was released without cause, the attitude towards me was significantly and tangibly different. Skin color, ethnicity, gender choice, sexual bedroom choices, and every other possible thing can be the source of discrimination, and nothing will change this facet of human behavior.
Admitting that discrimination is happening is not being defeatist, nor am I suggesting that discrimination laws should be scrapped. I am relating a truth about human behavior and why the law cannot dictate moral behaviors! Demanding inclusion does nothing to reach the core roots of the problems with discrimination in society. Which is another truth for certain that must be recognized and discussed.
Exclusion is the opposite of inclusion but also represents a risk. The risk of exclusion is found in the legal arguments from discrimination, not the risk of being omitted. More, exclusion has stricter requirements than elements of inclusion ever will. For example, insurance policies have specific criteria that exclude coverage as a means for controlling risk. The same thinking on insurance policies is the same as what occurs in social environments when a person is actively excluded.
For example, in the US Army, my platoon sergeant and my squad leader had a group of people they were comfortable with both on and off duty. I was not welcome because I hit more of the exclusion criteria than the inclusion criteria. I did not enjoy sports, wasn’t a drinker, a womanizer, and several other items. Off duty, this wasn’t that big of a deal. On duty, this exclusion caused me tremendous problems as I learned to be a soldier. Still, the choices for inclusion or exclusion came down to preference and accountability. As the First Sergeant and the Commanding Officer allowed these discriminatory practices to exist, I had no right to complain, and my mistakes were my own. It was a difficult period in my life, but I survived and was stronger for the challenge.
Who are you? What makes you an individual identity in a socially expanding group? The United Nations has declared your culture, gender, sexual preferences, and race are all personal choices as part of a unique identity created, changed, and designed for and by the person making the choices. What the UN fails to mention are the consequences.
In the US Navy, I served with a woman who was as white as the freshly driven snow, but she identified as black. According to the United Nations, this is acceptable. This sailor spoke, acted, and identified culturally as black even though she was white, blonde hair, blue-eyed, and the antithesis of cultural black identifying characteristics. I am not one to judge and, frankly, could have cared less how she identified herself. But the command through a total fit when she showed up to morning quarters with dredlocks.
Remember, your identity is your choice. I care less about your identity than I do about a fly. How you work, what you do, and your respect for others’ rights matters to me. But, do not make your choices to be an individual affect my life. Do not thrust your identity into my world and demand respect; I do not care about your identity!
Group identity is the melding and assimilation of identities and behaviors needed to work together effectively. That’s it; the whole casserole! Take any sports team, any sport, and you will find the same in winners and losers, those who choose to assimilate the group identity gain success. Those who refuse to assimilate will lose every time. Pick a sports movie; here are a couple of suggestions where you will see for yourself the truth of the power in assimilation:
- We Are Marshall
- Friday Night Lights
- Glory Road
Group identity requires sacrificing individual identity for a cause bigger than oneself. Yet, for DEI training, when is this ever discussed? Winning business organizations cannot be successful without individuals sacrificing their individual identity for group success. How have we forgotten this rule of nature?
Subordinate cultures, micro-networks, ol’ boys network, whatever you call it, subordinate cultures are designed around those who refuse to assimilate and make their choices the problems of managers and leaders. Consider those who hyphenate their cultures, Indian-American, Russio-Chinese, Irish-Israeli, etc. You will find someone who refuses to assimilate and cannot understand the need to be whole culturally and who could be more without the hyphen.
In the US Navy, I met more than ten first-generation Americans from Jamaica, Africa, Cuba, Brazil, Puerto-Rico, and other places. Not a single one of them would consider hyphenating their status as American. Yet, too often, people who have been in America for multiple generations feel a need to hyphenate to identify themselves. Why establish a subordinate culture? A subordinate culture is assumed to be lower in status than a dominant culture. The subordinate culture is treated of lesser importance, deemed under the control of something else, and all because of the hyphenation. Is being subordinate desired; if so, why?
The dominant culture is the most powerful or influential culture in an organization. Essentially, more people assimilated and sacrificed for the success that the organization is enjoying than refused. Yet, in DEI training, dominant culture carries negative baggage and is not allowed as it could be misunderstood. Seriously, the concept peddled in this training blew my mind. What happens if the LGBTQ+ community became the dominant culture in a country; would it be accused of the same claptrap the LGBTQ+ community currently claims they suffer?
Why did Rome fail; they lost the “Rule of Law,” and the subordinate cultures took power and could not unify the majority of people when invaders came. One of the greatest Republics in the history of man is responsible for improving millions of people’s lives. Failed and fell an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle over the same issues every single business and democratic country in the world is facing right now.
I was part of a first-day introduction activity for new hires (2016), and one of the new hires made an individual choice to identify themselves in the following manner, “I am John Smith, I am non-binary queer with a passion for anal sex.” What does this have to do with the position they were hired to fill? Which audience member in a professional setting needed or wanted this information? The declaration automatically put the entire audience on the defensive; the Human Resources representative was placed into a difficult position and called a 10-minute break to regain composure and finish the introductions.
How you choose is your business! I will respect your ability to choose as you desire; keep your choices to yourself, as I will keep my preferences to myself. Believe it or not, we can work together really well without disclosing our personal choices and lifestyles outside of employment. But, when you make your preferences my problem, I will deal with them the same as I deal with that pesky fly, ignore!
Self-awareness, curiosity, and empathy are what I was told today that will make DEI work, and through learning and unlearning, DEI can make an organization stronger. I agree the learning is vital, curiosity is always a valuable tool, self-awareness is important, but empathy is dangerous, divisive, and deadly! Failure to recognize the need for assimilation and sacrifice places the burden onto people who have enough on their plate with their responsibilities in their work.
Imperative to the improvement and liberation of thought and the power of people is the eradication of litigated moral behavior. We, the individuals who make up our communities and businesses, must recognize the 800# gorilla in the room, mandating inclusion, refusing assimilation, denying the need to sacrifice individual identity for group success; these must be enshrined into our cultures, again! Let us embrace these truths and design our “Liberty FIRST Cultures” around a single “Rule of Law,” where people are respected and freedom blossoms!
© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.