Two news articles crossed my path.
First the good news:
The Rise and Fall of the Chief Diversity Officer
Diversity executives hit the exits as company priorities shift; ‘everything is a battle’
Two years ago chief diversity officers were some of the hottest hires into executive ranks. Now, they increasingly feel left out in the cold.
Companies including Netflix, Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery have recently said that high-profile diversity, equity and inclusion executives will be leaving their jobs. Thousands of diversity-focused workers have been laid off since last year, and some companies are scaling back racial justice commitments.
Diversity, equity and inclusion—or DEI—jobs were put in the crosshairs after many companies started re-examining their executive ranks during the tech sector’s shake out last fall. Some chief diversity officers say their work is facing additional scrutiny since the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in college admissions and companies brace for potential legal challenges. DEI work has also become a political target.
Once mostly tasked with HR matters, today’s diversity leaders are expected to weigh in on new product development, marketing efforts and current events that have an impact on how workers and consumers are feeling. Warren and other CDOs said the expanded remit is playing out in a politically divided environment where corporate diversity efforts are the subject of frequent social-media firestorms.
During the pandemic, some companies moved people into diversity leadership if they were an ethnic minority, says Dani Monroe, even when they weren’t qualified. Monroe served as CDO for Mass General Brigham, a Boston-based hospital system and one of the largest employers in the state, until 2021 and convenes a yearly gathering of more than 100 CDOs.
“These were knee-jerk reactions,” she says of the hurried CDO hires, adding that some of those elevations didn’t create much impact, leaving both sides feeling disillusioned.
Companies paid the racial grievance Danegeld after the George Floyd Summer of Love.
It was a disaster.
They promoted incompetent people, it undermined employee morale and cohesiveness, and cost the companies money.
In one famous case in North Carolina, Novant Health (the largest hospital chain in the state) paid a discrimination suit for $10 million because they fired a white guy to hire two black women.
Companies are starting to wise up to the disaster that is DE&I.
The bad news is that they’re not doing ot fast enough, especially in Canada.
A Toronto school principal has died by suicide after he was accused of supporting white supremacy for calling out a black instructor during anti-racism training.
Richard Bilkszto, 60, worked in the Toronto School District for 24 years and had been serving as fill-in principal at the Burnhamthorpe Collegiate Institute in Etobicoke where he faced workplace bullying as a result of the spat with an anti-racism trainer.
He filed a lawsuit earlier in the year, claiming his reputation was ‘systematically demolished’ and he was labeled a white supremacist for his remarks questioning racism in Canada.
But on July 13, his lawyer, Lisa Bildy announced on Twitter, Bilkszto took his own life.
‘Unfortunately, the stress and effects of these incidents continued to plague Richard,’ she wrote in a lengthy statement. ‘Last week, he succumbed to this distress.
Bilkszto’s problems started on April 26, 2021, when Toronto District School Board educators attended an anti-racism training led by Kike Ojo-Thompson, the founder of the KOJO Institute, a consulting firm.
In his lawsuit, the Toronto Star reported, Bilkszto claimed Ojo-Thompson told educators that Canada could be considered more racist than the US because it ‘never reckoned with its anti-black history.’
The principal, who had previously taught high school in Buffalo, New York, disagreed with the sentiment.
He said it would be ‘an incredible disservice to our learners’ to suggest the US is a more just country than Canada, according to the lawsuit, which claims Ojo-Thompson reacted ‘with vitriol.’
She allegedly lashed out at the principal for appearing to undermine a black woman.
‘We are here to talk about anti-black racism, but you in your whiteness think that you can tell me what’s really going on for black people,’ Ojo-Thompson allegedly said.
The lawsuit added Bilkszto tried to de-escalate the situation, admitting that there was anti-black racism in Canada, but argued the evidence suggested ‘we are a far more just society’ than the US.
But at another session the following week , Ojo-Thompson allegedly brought up the argument again, describing it to Bilkszto and his colleagues as a ‘real life’ example of someone supporting white supremacy.
This white man fully admitted that Canada was racist. His only gripe was that he believed that the United States was more racist than Canada.
Voicing that opinion to a black woman was apparently an act of white supremacy.
For that, he was berated, fired, and his reputation ruined.
This feels like an Twilight Zone episode based on a Franz Kafka story.
This man was so damaged by the racist bullying of a DE&I worker, that he committed suicide.
It’s not enough for DE&I to die on its own.
I need to be put to the wall and buried in a ditch.