Inclusion and Diversity

A good friend of mine posted an article to LinkedIn about Twitter hiring a new VP of diversity and inclusion. In her comments she stated, “Diversity & Inclusion is necessary for long term success.”

I do in fact believe in inclusion, though my definition may not be up to snuff with whatever the social justice code word of the month is. But in the classic sense, I believe that people with relevant experience and opinions should be included in conversations. I believe that people with skills and expertise should have access to compete for open positions. I believe that access to things which are generally accessible, should include all the people who are interested in accessing them.

But I struggle with the notion that diversity is necessary for long term success.

The very history of this nation, and the fact that we are the most “successful” nation on this planet, kind of defeats that argument. We grew, and prospered, and defeated our enemies, and saved the world, and invented the most important stuff ever invented…all while being a nation primarily run by old, white, men. Which is not to say that we should be a nation run by old, white, men… but simply that it is entirely possible to have success without diversity. In fact, there are a number of fairly successful nations on this planet where diversity is pretty much against the law… Saudi Arabia for example.

If I run an accounting firm, and my employees spend all day adding and subtracting numbers…does the color of their skin matter? Is 2+2 more emphatically 4 if a black person says it? Is the math going to change because a Muslim quotes it? Are you going to pay less in taxes if your returns are prepared by a woman?

Diversity makes us feel good. It may even make us look good. It adds to our personal lives when we are able to discuss different cultures, beliefs, customs, etc. But it is, imho, wholly unnecessary for “success”.

My daughter is getting a college degree right now. She is doing the entirety of her program on-line. Thus her diversity is as low as it can possibly be, as she takes all of her classes alone. And yet, she is successfully completing her degree. She will also successfully obtain employment and begin a career. She will do this in the absence of diversity, and I don’t think it makes a bit of difference.

At the end of the day, it will be non-white, non-male, people who will disagree with me on this topic. I get that. But let me ask the next logical question…

Would the NAACP be more successful if they included white people in the interests of diversity?

Would NOW be more successful if they included men in the interests of diversity and inclusion?

Would whatever organization you support that discriminates against white, straight, male, Christian, Republicans be more successful if they included white, straight, male, Christian, Republicans in the interests of diversity?? Yeah…I didn’t think so.

In my personal experience when people say “diversity”, they mean that *I* should let *them* in. They NEVER mean that *they* should let *me* in.

Stop Talking

Have you ever run into someone who feels the need to speak every time they walk by?  I’m not just talking about the guy who says your name a little louder than needed each time you pass them in the hallway.  I’m not even talking about the guy, obviously raised by a single mom, who doesn’t understand urinal etiquette and asks, “How’s it going” while you’re both standing there.  I’m talking about the guy who walks up to your desk and starts a conversation about absolutely nothing.

In my case it is a guy I report to.  As it stands right now, while the project is staffing up, I am the only person who reports to him.  As such, in just under three days, we have apparently become old friends.

He stops by my desk with a notepad and pen in hand and says, “Questions for me?”  Apparently unaware that if I had any questions I would have come to his desk and asked them.  Interestingly, when I do go to his desk with a question there is generally no good answer forthcoming.  That’s what I do… I ask the questions you don’t have the answers for.

In any event, he has become fascinated with the various aspects of my life.

I have always been something of a conundrum to the majority of the people I work with.  Though to be fair there are usually one or two people at every workplace who get me.  This guy is not one of those people.  But man he sure is trying!

As I have said on several occasions, I am a defense contractor.  I spend much of my time surrounded by people in various stages of business attire.  From time to time a few of them whip out their Master’s degrees to see whose is bigger.  There are lots of shiny shoes…and shiny cars.

I report to work in jeans and a polo.  I am well into the process of getting full sleeves done on both arms.  My definition of “the mission” is to feed my kids and pay the mortgage.  What I do is not my life, it’s the means by which I finance my life.

This guy seems like he wants to get it, but the goofy smile tells me he does not in fact get it.

It appears that to him I am simply a combination of caricatures or things he has seen on TV.  With regard to my tattoos for instance, upon learning that I have quite a bit of ink his response was, “Freakin’ Navy guys.”  I have never served…

I mentioned an expression we in the gaming community use, and his reply was, “Gaming community?  Are you a WoW’er?”  Like everyone who plays games plays WoW.  Or more to the point, WoW is the only game he is familiar with.

Yesterday he came up to my desk and asked me if I have written any SOP’s yet.  We are three guys sitting in an Ops Center that is not operational yet.  The other two guys are the Op Center Lead and the CND Lead.  I was brought on in an entry level capacity.  My purpose in being here is to learn the tools and skills, and gain the experience, to continue on a Security track during the remainder of my career.  In other words, I’m here to learn.  But he wants to know if I’ve written any SOP’s yet…

I left a position in property management  to come here.  At the moment of my departure I had no interest in continuing in that capacity.  Security has always been of interest to me.  Property accountability and management has never been of interest to me.  But I have to say, this morning I really started thinking about that position.

Having to chase technical certifications every year and dealing with high stress, high consequence situations, may not be as much fun as I imagined.  I will have to give that more thought.  But there is one thing about which I am certain.  Two actually..

  1. I do not like when people who do not know me talk to me like they do know me.  It’s presumptuous and irritating.
  2. The people that I work with are the largest contributor to whether or not I enjoy my job.  They create the environment.  They make the day go faster…or slower.  So if this guy doesn’t stop talking, we’re going to have a problem.