I once read an editorial printed in a local newspaper on the “racism” of diversity. I have to admit that I was stunned by the title, then as I read the article I got angry, then had to take a step back. The overall idea of diversity at its core is that every person gets to have their point of view on something, no matter how abhorrent that stance might seem to someone like myself.

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For the record, the point of the article at the time was directed at a case before the Supreme Count involving the University of Michigan and its admission policies as it pertains to attempting to have a diverse student population. The author of the editorial not only disagreed with this policy, which puts him in line with President Bush, but decided to go further in his denouncement of the ideals of diversity across the board.

The term “diversity” is suddenly becoming a word with a negative connotation, ala “liberal” in today’s society, and that’s not a good thing. Only those with no real clue as to the problems in the real world can really believe diversity is such a bad thing. What makes it better that every university, every company, every organization, whatever, is overloaded with one group over another? It made me wonder if the author was really racist himself or whether he was “under educated” as opposed to uneducated.

I am from what would be acknowledged as an official minority group. As someone with a little bit of history on the subject, I can assure folks that there isn’t anything close to a level playing field in this country. With the trials and tribulations I had as it regards my educational background in elementary school, high school, and college, I can honestly say that it prepared me for many things I would run into in the work world. I was able to persevere and advance, but each step up the ladder just reminded me of how much of an oddity I was. In the year 2011 and with at least 300 years of history behind us, being in a position where I still make so many lists of “the 1st” to do whatever is shocking to me.

There is a great aversion by some against Affirmative Action. What’s missed is that there is still a great need for the program. Companies have had the opportunity to do the right thing on their own, and have traditionally decided they didn’t really want to buck the status quo, and therefore have not hired always in the best interest of the company. Am I to believe that out of a company of over 200 employees there wasn’t a single minority applicant with the skills and background to be a valuable employee to that company? When it comes to unskilled labor, are we really to believe that there’s such a great difference between those who are considered in the majority and those considered in the minority?

The way I see things, those whose feelings are like that particular writer are ready to perpetuate the status quo. One reason I have had people tell me for the reasons they don’t have any minority representation in management is that there isn’t anyone with the skills needed to be promoted. Many of those companies have no minorities to begin with, so the point is moot. Just where are people supposed to get any skills or background needed to compete in today’s market?

College is a good start. What about quotas? Colleges have quotas anyway. There are set asides for students whose parents work at the university; there are set asides for students whose families give money to the university; there are set asides for people who live in a particular area (state universities have only a minimum number of slots for out of state students); there are set asides for veterans,… it goes on and on. I see nothing wrong with the policy at the University of Michigan because it has students in particular groups competing against others within their own categories for slots at the university. It’s not like U of M is taking people only in the order they happen to apply to the university.

Once this degree has been earned, minorities need the opportunities to get into companies just like everyone else. Of course their ideas will come from a different perspective, but ideas are what makes companies great in the first place. Someone had an idea and then either went with it or passed it on to someone else who put it all into place. And if this person had aspirations of moving up the ladder, they will do what is needed in order to attain the skills needed for consideration.

Al Campanis wasn’t necessarily wrong in 1987 when he said minorities didn’t have all the necessities to be considered for promotion; of course he was talking about baseball and he delivered his message incorrectly. The same applies to businesses in general. Companies need to offer the opportunity for minorities to attain the necessities so that they can advance.
 

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