Inside the Corporate Diversity Cult
Harold Peterson, American Renaissance, October 4, 2019
Few people on the Dissident Right know how big American companies practice “diversity.” I spent many years in one of America’s iconic corporations and rose to a senior level. I saw it all from the inside.
I continue to work in corporate America and have many friends and contacts still employed by what I will refer to as “TheCorp.” I will therefore withhold certain identifying details.
TheCorp is one of the largest US-based companies, with operations throughout the United States and in several nations overseas. It employs tens of thousands of people, and, as with any company of this size, includes many functional supporting departments with their own internal bureaucracies, such as legal, marketing, human resources, and of course, the diversity bureaucracy.
I started in TheCorp in the mid-1990s, with a just-above-minimum-wage entry-level role — the proverbial mailroom job. Over the course of more than 20 years, I was promoted many times and reached a senior level of middle management, leading large business units with hundreds of millions in revenue and thousands of employees. At a certain level of management, selecting, hiring, developing, disciplining, and promoting people become your primary focus. As a mentor told me early in my career “You don’t lead reports, you lead people.”
Even though I’m going to relate some sinister aspects of working for TheCorp, my career was largely pleasant and rewarding. I worked with many talented, intelligent, and industrious people who taught me an incredible amount.
Race was frequently a concern in TheCorp, even back in the mid-1990s when I started. During hiring, there was an effort to ensure a fair racial representation of the local population. This was the culture: policies, training, and systems were designed to insulate TheCorp from potential risk, such as future EEOC claims or class action lawsuits. New guidance, training, or other policies would periodically be issued by headquarters to reduce such risks, though we still had to deal with them from time to time.
I rarely saw anything resembling racial bias in personnel matters, and almost never against an individual. There can be group bias, but not in the way you would imagine. The problem is what happens when there is an over-representation of blacks in a group.
Black workers tend to be more “spirited” than whites. On the positive side, there are jokes and laughter, but blacks are often combative in the face of direction or peer input, which results in stress and tension. Most non-blacks shun conflict, prefer stability, and therefore find it hard to work in black-dominated groups. Turnover of non-blacks increases, and the department becomes increasingly black. Experienced managers usually know this tendency and at least try to maintain a racial balance. Many black managers don’t hesitate to talk about this problem, and I have seen them actively discriminate in favor of non-blacks to keep their group balanced.
I did personally experience blatant racial bias from a black woman I reported to early in my career. I’ll call her Carol. The work group was all black except for me. I had attended majority-black schools and worked in majority-black groups before, so this was not new for me. What I found odd was how blatant Carol was in her favoritism. She excused several significant failures by blacks, but singled me out for relentless criticism over minor issues or differences in style. She would invite my black peers to her home and maintained obvious personal connections with several, but generally shunned me. I was especially irritated because two of her pets were abysmally poor performers.
Once, Carol berated me and called me “white boy” in front of a large group that included some of my own staff. Later, after others at the meeting criticized her for this, she apologized, claiming it was a joke. None of this bothered me all that much. Carol was lazy and incompetent, so I felt sure she would eventually be fired — which she was.
I also had many allies in the organization outside of this work group, so what Carol thought of me did not affect me in the long run. It is fundamental in a large corporation to maintain robust support networks, preferably with a wide range of people, so as to maneuver through conflicts like this. Large corporations parallel the political world. At a certain leadership level, the support network matters as much or more than tangible results.
TheCorp periodically put a greater-than-usual emphasis on promoting non-whites, usually when some new senior leader or board member made diversity a priority. In the early years, fast-track beneficiaries were exclusively black — Carol was one of them — but later, anyone who was not white got preference. Usually, the company assigned over-promoted minorities to non-line departments, such as human resources. However, sometimes blacks were promoted as line leaders in the core business despite thin resumes and even less competence. I was asked many times by human resources whom I would propose for potential promotion to satisfy this drive for diversity.
In nearly every case, the blacks TheCorp prematurely promoted had the “big man” personality of black politicians. That is to say, they were extremely engaging, verbally nimble, and abounding in masculine charisma. They could quickly build strong bonds of loyalty with those who worked for them and gain support from their supervisors.
Nevertheless, promoting these blacks either too quickly or beyond their intellectual capacity was usually disastrous. I can recall many examples, such as the young black guy who replaced a white veteran of 20 years and then turned a successful operation into a failure. Or the three married black leaders promoted all about the same time who were terminated for having intimate relations with their direct subordinates.
It was common for blacks to have inappropriate relationships with their staff or with others in the organization. My company had strict rules about this, specifically that if any boss and subordinate got intimate, one had to resign or be reassigned. When there is sex, there are problems of favoritism and people lose trust in the brass. Relationships do not always end well, and in the workplace, power dynamics and sex can lead to risks such as lawsuits. One of my married fast-track black supervisors – I’ll call him Kevin – caused enormous turmoil in our group because he suddenly granted very unusual favors to a white woman he was secretly dating. The relationship was investigated by human resources and Kevin was fired.
Every few years, there would be multiple near-simultaneous terminations of diverse, over-promoted people. In one case, three senior black leaders (including my boss Kevin) were all terminated in quick succession due to inappropriate relationships. A few years before that, a new leader was assigned to a particularly unproductive support department that had been packed with incompetent blacks. They were all terminated and replaced with capable people — mostly white men.
My view — which I shared openly — was that since we had fewer non-whites in management, we should be careful with their careers. When we promoted them too far, too fast, we put their careers at risk. Why not make sure they were fully prepared before promoting them? Sometimes this argument was successful, but I said “I told you so” many times.
Some black leaders were competent, stable, and good at what they did, and they benefited politically from being among the few blacks who could make it. They’d often joke about this, since they knew whites would notice and be thankful that they were well behaved.
I found the bluntness of blacks about race in the workplace entertaining. They typically didn’t hesitate to talk about race openly. For example, once during a session with senior executives, someone asked why our group didn’t have the same proportion of blacks as in our geographic area. My boss Kevin said, “You guys can’t say this, but I can: They all have [criminal] records.” Whites, of course, were terrified of race, and often avoided even using the word “black.”
TheCorp had robust pre-employment and pre-promotion testing for each new hire or major rank change. As rank rose, the testing increased in complexity and duration. Part of these tests was common IQ-testing tools. The results “when considered holistically,” as HR used to say, lined up reasonably well with job performance, and therefore test results mattered in hiring and promotion decisions.
Several years ago, however, the testing was changed so that interviews and realistic job exercises got more weight, and the IQ part was mostly removed. At that time, the Obama Administration’s Department of Labor was looking closely into employer selection processes. IQ testing has a disparate racial impact, and though this was never acknowledged widely in the company, I suspect we dropped IQ testing because of regulatory pressure.
One quarterly activity at every level of Director and above was “people planning.” This ritual had many phases, including drafting reports and plans for presentation, meetings about these reports with human resources and other partners, then editing and re-editing these reports based on input and the current thinking in the organization. Talking points were prepared for presenters at the “people planning” meetings to counter potential challenges. Being aligned with current thinking was critical to a leader’s success.
For the last 10 years, there was a serious focus on diversity. In this vast corporation of tens of thousands, every single employee above entry level was included and reviewed on people planning documents. On these documents, race (anything non-white counted) and sex were noted with special symbols, along with length of tenure. Demographic details of new hires, promotions, and terminations within the time period were noted. Specific additional reports compared diversity goals versus actual hiring, promotion, and termination. “People planning” sessions and presentations were high-pressure events that mattered for careers, so every effort was made to make your team and prospects for your work group as diverse as possible. If there were gaps in expected diversity, you were expected to have detailed plans filling them.
Race at TheCorp was self-identified. Since there were benefits to being non-white, I witnessed many amusing examples of what Steve Sailer calls “the flight from white.” There was the Levantine female who decided she was one of the blessed diverse. Another example was the die-hard conservative white man from a deep red state who claimed American Indian ancestry. Most numerous were tangential Hispanics: those without Hispanic surnames who may or may not have had an actual Hispanic parent or grandparent and looked to have no mestizo blood. TheCorp never questioned or verified suspicious identifications. Since government agencies and third-party ethnic lobbies use this internally collected data for their reports, the more non-whites we had, the better. There were many jokes about these doubtful diversity candidates.
My colleagues who were first-generation immigrants were typically very critical of the race-preferences system, even though they acknowledged that they benefited from it. They were the first to point out that the “pretenders” typically seemed to be the ones who talked most about diversity.
The masochism of these “people planning” sessions was depressing. Listening to groups of mostly white men and woman lamenting that they couldn’t find enough non-whites to hire or promote was disgusting. There was also wry amusement, because many times you could get a group of white men on a break during these sessions to joke about how ridiculous it all was. I’d often ask about their children: Can you imagine the future when people are sitting in a room talking about them and their careers? I got interesting responses, from understandable dejection to one white woman telling me she was encouraging her sons to learn trades rather than go to college!
TheCorp required “diversity and inclusion” training. This took many forms over the years, but it really got started only in 2005, as I recall, with an all-day session on multicultural workplaces. In this format, a liberal white lady came in to talk about how America will soon be non-white so whites need to adapt. There was a heavy burden on white men to conform. I found this excruciating, as did most of the rest of the audience. Probably because this was poorly received, the format in subsequent reeducation sessions was smaller, more tolerable doses of anti-white dogma — even recognition that white men have value!
The worst part, though, was that at my level, I had to teach the same program to my direct staff. Of course, I would have to present the contents seriously, and control my strong desire to editorialize. I felt like I was trapped in a cult I didn’t believe in but was forced to perform its bizarre rituals so as not to be exposed.
For the diverse, there were opportunities throughout the year to travel to conferences held by third-party ethnic organizations — National Urban League, Hispanic and black MBA associations — with TheCorp’s logo proudly emblazoned as a sponsor on the marketing materials. These conferences typically had networking, speaking, and black-tie events. Because I had many diverse people in my organization, the diversity bureaucracy would often ask me to nominate people to attend these events.
The hunger for non-white executives is immense, and there is constant pressure on senior management to have non-whites who can represent you well internally and look good at outside events. Ideally, they communicate intelligently, dress well, act and look energetic, and are highly personable. Sometimes we deliberately had to teach them how to act. When I think back on it today, I’m struck by how similar this was to preparing pampered pets for exhibitions.
There were committees established at headquarters for every conceivable non-straight-white-male employee, including ones focused on race, sex, sexual orientation, disability, and veteran status. These committees advised senior leadership on policies for these groups and helped their members network.
One very interesting thing happened after President Trump’s election. At our headquarters, which is in a left-of-center city, there were many unhappy people. Senior management encouraged the diversity committees to sponsor meetings for people to vent their anguish and fury. From what I heard, it was mostly lady millennials who showed up. Many apparently had to take time off because of inner turmoil. I was reassured to find that, in private, most managers thought such histrionics were ridiculous.
There was an egregious case of late-stage “woke capitalism” not long before I left. I cannot give you the details, but the diversely staffed diversity bureaucracy made an unfortunate public statement about a certain controversial social policy that was roiling the nation and was heavily discussed in the media. The diversity bureaucracy did not get senior management approval for this statement. The public overwhelmingly did not respond well, and the financial losses were staggering — although this was never publicly acknowledged. Those responsible for the statement were not terminated, nor was there any public response to reassure the vast majority of our customers who were annoyed by the statement.
As I think about that incident, I’m struck by how much value is lost to shareholders that may never be recovered. Companies really seem to be willing to do self-destructive things simply to signal virtue. I was reminded of this recently when I read about Gillette’s reported $8 billion write down during their recent fourth quarter, which pushed their parent company, Proctor & Gamble, into a loss for the period. Gillette had a “woke” commercial campaign that disparaged men. It’s foolish to attack your core customers, but that’s what they did. Who knows how much of the loss was due to that stupid campaign? I know I won’t buy another Gillette product.
After that similarly unfortunate incident at TheCorp, I became convinced I needed to exit for my own sanity and work in a less racially “woke” environment. Working for a company that existed as if it were led by a group of ethnic and gender studies faculty was becoming intolerable. I made a carefully planned exit and am now in a far less politically aware company, where I don’t have to conform to the diversity and inclusion cult and can focus on the core business and growth.
I will always value my time at TheCorp, but when I left I felt a sense of freedom that I didn’t even know I was missing. It might be an exaggeration to compare this feeling to say, citizens of the GDR crossing into West Berlin in November 1989, but it certainly felt like liberation!