Even I don't always agree with my opinion

 

No Whites Allowed; It’s A Human Right

3
Posted September 12, 2009 by jim young in Lifestyle

– Kory French

Human Rights needs to stop confusing itself with cultural exclusivity.

In meeting a new friend at school last night, we became entangled in an interesting discussion around the rights of what are the so-called minorities of this nation, as current or future employees, in what is still highly considered (and justified, at that) a culturally white-male dominated, white-collar world.

The background of the debate came from a fellow student who is in the Human Rights Program here at Columbia, and is also employed by a major Fortune 500 American Corporation as a leader of their “Diversity Development Team”. In brief, her role is to visit high school, college, and even graduate students as part of a recruiting process in preparing and educating (er, grooming for lack of a better word) them for future opportunities with her company. It should be noted however, that this recruitment is done to visible minorities only (precisely Latinos, Blacks and Women to use her words). As well, she is also responsible for the retention of existing employees, informing me that the average minority employee leaves her company after three years of employment (this is an average of U.S. Fortune 500 Companies, I am told. I have not verified this statistic at all). The creation of her team, and relatively her specific job role, was a result of a major Government induced, and Corporate America enthusiastically accepted, program to improve the lives of visible minorities in this country by offering them careers that have been traditionally dominated by white males (white males, over six feet tall, with brown hair and no facial hair, I might add).

This initiative to have more blacks, hispanics and females in the upper-management positions of corporate America is a positive thing in today’s global community of urban America. And I am not here to debate its program, the roots of it, the necessity for or against it, or the potential successes or failures of it. The argument I present, is the base irony in the fact that the diversification of cultural or gender background in the white-collar work place is enveloped by a Human Rights protocol. In other words, how is it that the narrowing in and selective recruitment of specific employees can even begin to be associated with human rights? The minute a member of any gender, race, or culture is excluded from a recruitment process is the same minute a human right has been in-dubiously violated.

How can a government program or corporate initiative profess to associate itself with a human rights movement when in practice what they are doing is switching focus to exclude the equal rights of a major part of the population only in order to attempt to bring to balance the scales of their staff? Would it be considered a Human Rights practice to remove the right to vote from men for the next one hundred years? Or employ white males as slaves to black families for the next sixty? While I do agree in the notion of equal opportunity to everyone, in the same chord, it severely irks me to learn that companies are “minority recruiting” in order to satisfy government institutionalized quotas and create a more diverse face on the brochure of their “Careers” marketing Web page. What is even further troublesome, is that they are doing this all under the very safe, welcoming, and warm-fuzzied title of “Human Rights”.

When I was living abroad, I did not expect to be treated the same. It is part of being an “ex-patriate”. When shopping for items in South America, it is almost indefinite that you will pay “Gringo Price”. And when I was forced to search for work in Istanbul, it was in the tourist industry, where I would have rapport with the “tourists who were like me”. I never expected to walk into a major Turkish Company and be hired somewhere in upper-management (although my education and resume possibly warranted it). Even in London, England I worked as a bicycle courier, finding it difficult to start any job at anything higher than the bottom wrung. The common denominator for all of these trials and launching positions — I wasn’t from there. I didn’t have the social tact to act like a veteran of the community. I couldn’t discuss the history of the nation and its people at length over business lunches, or ramble on about localized politics over tea, coffee, or debate about the local football team over a beer after work. And I certainly couldn’t name-drop fellow classmates or neighborhood pals. The same exists in any major cosmopolitan center in America today. A white male cannot be expected to get a job at a bank in Chinatown. Nor should a white female find herself working with a predominantly Mexican farming team, or Portuguese construction crew. It has nothing to do with human rights, its just that he/she doesn’t fit in. It’s a human tendency, and one that I think we should not fight to overcome, because it is part of what makes our world regionalized, sectionalized, and in a more specific word: “cultured”.

Aren’t our cultural differences a large part of what makes this world so fascinating and a major motive for travel? Do we not admire metropolises with a “Little Italy”, “Greek-town”, or “Chinatown”? If each workplace, from CitiBank right on through to your local privatized food market was forced to hire equally from class, race and gender, would it not take away from what makes a company or store unique and possibly so successful? I wonder when the last time IBM or Apple held an HR meeting and said, “Ok people, no more hiring of Indian grads from MIT for our tech department. We need more South Americans in there.”

In closing, I would like to reiterate that I am strong proponent of equal opportunity for all candidates of any job. I believe that a company should look at whites, blacks, latinos, men, women all fairly and equally for all job roles. But let us not forget the necessity of meritocracy. And please, stop grooming our students or employees to be more like their “white-male” colleagues, counterparts, or competition. An individual should be allowed to represent their culture in dress, language, and action. If that person is best suited for the position, it should be theirs. But if their cultural character does not jive with the culture in which the company does business, than that company should have the right to hire someone more suited to the culture. That is NOT a violation of human rights. It is a business decision based on capital growth; and for a country like America who embraces capitalism like the Vatican embraces Catholicism, it is a business decision that should be permitted without consequence.

So for all those Human Rights Diversification Recruiters out there, keep up the great work. Expose the future minorities to what jobs exist and possible careers that are out there, regardless of race, skin or gender. However do the rights of the rest of the nation, and all of humankind, a huge favor — fight back at selective interviewing based on these parameters and “quota compensation hiring”. It is time that culture steps out from the umbrella of Human Rights.


3 Comments


  1.  
    Jim

    While I agree with most of what you say, I had to laugh at your suggestion that:

    “I never expected to walk into a major Turkish Company and be hired somewhere in upper-management (although my education and resume possibly warranted it)”.

    Or “Even in London, England I worked as a bicycle courier, finding it difficult to start any job at anything higher than the bottom wrung. ”

    Why shouldn’t you start at the bottom?

    Regardless of race, I think too many young people (and maybe they should be considered a separate race all on their ownself) have unrealistic expectations that just because they have an education, they are too good to start out at the bottom.

    I started working for the company where I am currently employed, washing floors and worked my way up to an upper-management postion.

    I am presently employed there as a clerk – exactly where I should be to best utilize my skills, talents and capabilities consistent with my current ambitions and drive.

    I know I have gone off on a tangent from your original topic – but I think too many people (whites included) call the “race” card when it’s not justified.

    Or as Ringo once sang, “You gotta pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues and you know it don’t come easy.”




  2.  
    Kory

    Let me for a minute agree with you — no matter what education one has, he/she should expect to start their career on the bottom wrung of the institution or company he/she is hired with.

    Does that not then beg the question; “why did I spend so much money on education to be put in the same place as the person next to me who dropped out of school?”

    According to your suggestion, each of us would be more successful more quickly had we not gone to school, but instead got a job “washing floors” at age 18 and climbed the company ladder. Not to mention the financial sway.

    I disagree. I believe that an individual, regardless of race or gender, should expect to start their career at a higher level, according to their academic Curriculum Vitae.




  3.  
    Jim

    Time and money spent on education is never wasted.

    You are putting words in my mouth when you say “According to your suggestion, each of us would be more successful more quickly had we not gone to school, but instead got a job “washing floors” at 18 and climbed the company ladder.”

    That’s not what I said at all.

    And just as a side note, let me say, there’s nothing wrong with “washing floors” and I wouldn’t even suggest that I was humble enough to “wash floors” – I was proud to have the opportunity to do so along side of the best of them.

    Let’s never forget that these so called “menial” jobs are every bit as important as every other position within the business. And in some cases – such as the food and drug industry – they become a critical component requiring a considerable amount of skill, expertise and yes – education.

    But I digress, yes, I do believe that you will be more successful in whatever career you choose if you do start at the bottom.

    But starting at the bottom then, becomes an intregal part of your education and should not be passed over any more than should any other part of your education.

    And I also believe that you will, and should, rise through the ranks more quickly because of the time you spent educating yourself in preparation for the climb up the corporate ladder.

    From first hand experience I can tell you that the company that I work for now, which is run by sales and marketing people – some of whom were outside our industry and likely climbed few ladders from the very bottom, does not operate as efficiently as it should.

    It is my opinion that we operated more efficiently when our company’s presidents and vice presidents were former production people who were still not afraid to get their hands dirty. We used to operate efficiently with broken down second hand equipment. Now we can’t seem to run a line with brand new state-of-the-art equipment.

    And for that opinion, I have been labelled a dinosaur. It’s not that I am resistant to change. But I am resistant to changing things that we have tried in the past that have been proven NOT to work just because the executives of today want to try something they THINK is new.

    Had they worked their way up the ladder – they would have a better idea of how the day-to-day operations really work and more importantly what DOESN’T work.

    As a “dinosaur” I will soon be extinct along with the others of my breed.

    And the companies will continue to prosper – but at what cost? And to whom?

    Change for the sake of change is no better than the excuse “but we’ve always done it that way.”





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