Cultural Diversity

Humans seem to be hard-wired to prefer in-groups over out-groups, family and tribe over outsiders. In the business world, we hear about corporate culture. But these days, diversity is all the rage. Companies strive to convince the world that that have diverse and inclusive cultures, but what does this mean? Is there such an animal as a diverse culture? And how does one balance the familiarity of in-group homogeneity versus out-group heteronormativity?

you can’t spell culture without ‘cult’

In corporate-speak, there is the concept of cultural fitness. Afterall, we want efficient and productive humans and processes? People who don’t fit this mould are disruptive, right? So, we are justified in excluding people from the group, right? Remember, you can’t spell culture without ‘cult’.

Although the United States brand themselves as a cultural melting pot, this is only partially correct, and mostly in more populous areas, and even this occurs in pockets.

Diversity—in hiring and otherwise—is only accepted if it is along approved superficial dimensions—skin colour, national origin, sex, religious orientation, maybe gender, perhaps some latitude around lifestyle choices. But more substantial diversity need not apply. They are interested in hiring conforming normies. The gay guy is OK, so long as he toes the rest of the line. That woman: ditto. That Muslim: same. That black person: so long as s/he acts white in public.

everything needs to distil down to the white male ethic

Performatively, they’ll accept the diversity proponent as a PR prop. This person is proof that they hire [target group]. This person broadcasts how s/he can wear their cultural garb, bring cultural dishes to potlucks, put up posters and advertise about support groups outside of work. But in the end, everything needs to distil down to the white male ethic.

Talk about work-life balance is fine, so long as work gets the upper hand. You need to be able to talk about charity, but you need to be motivated by money and status. There are exceptions to this motivation, say, public health and healthcare, education, and so on, but the boundaries in these professions are narrow, too. Not acting ‘professional’ is a key criticism. So, if your diversity counters some perceived professionalism, your diversity is not welcome.

not acting ‘professional’ is a key criticism

If the company hires people who routinely put in 60 hours for 40 hours of salary, they are not interested in the person with boundaries, insisting on 40 hours of work for 40 hours of salary. They aren’t interested in people who might question the ethics of the company’s business practices. Companies aren’t generally interested in rebels.

You need to be Sartre’s waiter. You’ve got a role to perform. In fact, you are evaluated specifically how well you perform that role. So, whilst you may be a singing waiter or a dancing waitress, your boundaries aren’t much broader than this. It’s easy for an observer to dismiss the call for diversity. S/he’s a waiter, right? Why should I expect anything different to that? And this is what locks in a lack of diversity.

DISCLAIMER: This ended up more of a meandering rant, but I’m distracted and out of time. And so it goes…

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