The Disappointment of Diversity



by Zekita Tucker

It seems that naturally, the goal to increase diversity in the workplace would be to increase ultimately the number of women (white women) rather than those of an assorted ethnic, cultural, or racial background to fill management and even high level executive positions. Just as history has shown us, the original call for diversifying business, politics, and even colleges and universities was implemented for the integration of people of color (particularly black people) into the corporate work force that had been relentlessly shutting us out.

But like then, in contemporary times, the cries of the ‘unheard’ white woman who wants her proclaimed rightful place next to her man are pushing the black woman and man back into second string. And now the seats that were once being opened for blacks are being taken over by ‘Rosie the Router’ who fights hard every day to prove her equality. It is true that while many blacks are welcomed to high level positions in the workforce that they were once essentially banned from; the number of them in high ranking chairs is still one that is frustratingly low.

We often see stories of black people who have achieved some level of success within the business world. They are singled out as high achievers, hard workers, and as those who have somehow broken that ‘glass ceiling’. Arguably, these stories play a major role in our conditioning (by white media), in order to portray a changing world that allows for every man to contribute as long as he is competent, intelligent, and is willing to play by their rules. Unfortunately, what we don’t see is when we get mesmerized by these individual stories of ‘success’, is that these stars of the ‘black business show’ had to go through crucial bouts of assimilation and acceptance. And probably hardly ever saw a face that looked similar to their own while they fought this uphill battle to be the only blackface at the executive round table. What hell that must be.

The world obviously knows that the white male has the business world by the balls (for now anyway). And when we push to get into this arena on a level playing field, the grip gets tighter. Even still in 2006, these fallacious claims of diversity and equality can be chalked up as a clear hoax. No more than another game being played to manipulate, trick, and deceive- unfortunately, this is how the world operates now.

These new diversity programs have become no more than an innovation. They are new found programs that reinforce the limitations imposed on almost all dark skinned people on the planet without the messiness of past injustices. In other words, the doors have opened but they are on an automatic timer that shuts them after the black capacity has been reached.

Major corporations spend millions on diversity programs and training but fail to recognize the true meaning of diversifying. Many of us are still confused by the language, the efficacy of the programs, and why the ‘white women’ has yet to become a definitive category within these programs. When reviewing the category of women, one has to wonder- just what women are they talking about. There is always statistics on Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, etc. and then of course Women. As if this group is somehow separate from the others, or perhaps there are no women in the other groups?

If major corporations really wanted companies orchestrated by all people- not just mainly white or Europeans with a sprinkle of color here and there- there would truly be no serious need for the implementation of programs to racially and/or culturally integrate the work place. It would just be. These very weak attempts and high priced programs would not even be necessary.

While there is a huge hype about this issue, the more intricate details that prove it to be hype are usually hidden and are undeniably indicate of the real truth. Deep within the corporate commercials featuring a black person (male or female), a white woman, an asian (usually a woman), and a person that looks something similar to what could be called Hispanic there is a web of deceit and propaganda. The commercials and pamphlets talk about acceptance and equal opportunity, etc. etc., but like all promos there is something unsaid, unseen, and unheard. It’s usually truth.

The true ranks are clear but often shrouded from the people. While there are claims of equality on the surface the penetration of such illuminate otherwise. Taken from the source: Catalyst, Women of Color in Corporate Management: A Statistical Picture; DiversityCentral.com lists the earnings of women in particular in comparison to each $1.00 (U.S) earned by white males. This list indicates that while black women have the second highest attainment of education (second to Asian women), black women earn only $.57 (U.S.) compared to the white male $1.00 while white women, who have less education compare at $.59 (U.S). It really doesn’t get any more in your face than that!

On the Global front, the problem of diversified markets and business may be seen in another light. That is, if you are not African or of African descent. Diversified markets and business where Africa is concerned is seemingly no more than a bunch of mindless chatter. It sounds really good and the words look really impressive on paper but the show and prove has yet to happen. The October issue of Fortune Magazine catalogues a list of the world’s 50 most powerful women and the list appears to be culturally inclusive, however, a very simple mind could be mislead into believing that the continent does not produce any productive and talented business women. On the list, the only country that is mentioned on the continent of Africa is South Africa whose reported ‘powerful’ woman is CEO of Transnet, Maria Ramos who is not even black. The same story rings true in the U.S. Fortune’s 10 Highest paid executives- all white and all male. For their powerful U.S. Women’s list there are only two African American women: Oprah Winfrey (Harpo Inc.) and Ursula Burns (Xerox).

This entire game of letting a few people in (save the ones who have created their own businesses) to secure a good reputation and good game face is a sad thing. It is indeed a game. One that limits and/or limits access to fair business, fair politics, trade, and on some levels education. The fight for equality and diversity will be one that will last for far more decades than any of us can foresee. In 2005 it was reported that the U.S. Labor Force alone had great disparities. The workforce is 73% white, 48% women, and 11% African American (Workforce 2020, Hudson Institute).

Those percentages alone could turn many stomachs but the numbers are not as damaging to the heart as the up close and personal eyewitness of black people still having to struggle for fairness and equality for the most basic of elements and the means and opportunity to acquire a stable and comfortable livelihood in a modern world.

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Zekita Tucker is a freelance writer and author of ‘Don’t Call Me Nigga’ for children ages 6 yrs and older. Please visit her online at http://zeniam.scriptmania.com/

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