Published on: October 30, 2014
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Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
Sometimes, these commentaries come to me pretty quickly, because inspiration strikes. Sometimes, it takes a little longer, just because I need to clarify my thoughts before I speak the words. And sometimes, I know exactly what I want to say … but I delay because I want to make sure I don't lose my cool.
This is one of those times.
As regular readers of MNB know, one of the issues we talk a lot about here is diversity. I think that in any consumer-driven company, it makes sense of have management and leadership that reflects the diversity of the shoppers. I'm talking about age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity … whatever. As I've often said, we live in a "Mad Men" obsessed world, but the culture looks a lot more like 'Modern Family."
The most recent story that focused on the need for diversity was just last week, when it was announced that when the acquisition of Safeway by Albertsons is completed, two of the most senior female execs at Safeway will be leaving. The senior leadership, it appears, is made up primarily of middle-aged white guys … and, as I've pointed out, they're probably really only middle aged if they live to the average age of 110.
The problem is that some people - I like to think it is a minority - believe that this whole diversity thing is nonsense. Like the CEO of Microsoft, they believe that women, for example, ought to keep their noses down, work hard, and never ask for raises, never demand to be paid the same as men, and be willing to acknowledge the fact that they have other priorities than men and never will be willing to work as hard to achieve their professional goals. And if they demand fair treatment and equal opportunities, they are somehow suspect, especially if they seek outside remedies because they cannot get satisfaction inside their companies.
I think this is a crock. (And that's the polite term for it.) Sure, it'd be pretty to think that the workplace is essentially a fair and equitable place where achievement and dedication are rewarded without any other considerations. But it simply ain't so. I think we're getting closer, but we're not there yet. And the people who think we ARE there, inevitably, are the middle-aged white guys who either instinctively want to protect their turf or are better at self-congratulation than sensitivity to the world around them.
But then, I get an email like this one, referring me to a recent Fortune article on the 50 most powerful women in business … and saying the following:
"Great article you should read. None of these women needed to litigate, legislate or fornicate their way to the top."
You gotta be kidding me.
Now, I'm not going to tell you who sent me this email, though the man who wrote it probably would be happy to have his name mentioned here. Hell, he's probably happy to have his name uttered anywhere. The good news is that he's not in the human resources end of the business.
But I find that email so incredibly offensive that it almost is impossible for me to know where to start.
First of all, nobody suggested that anyone has or should "litigate, legislate or fornicate" their way to the top, or even the middle for that matter.
I'm not a litigious person by nature, but I'm smart enough to know that some things need to be litigated. I don't believe that government can solve all our problems, but I'm old enough to know that sometimes we do need laws to make sure that everybody has the same rights. Do I think that sometimes courts and legislatures can be overused, and that sometimes people take advantage of their situations and want something for nothing? Sure. But somehow when a white guy does that, he's crafty, ambitious and motivated. When women do it, they're manipulative and bitchy. But the idea that this clown - and I say that with apologies to actual clowns everywhere - would equate legislating and litigating with fornicating … well, I think that tells you everything you need to know about his view of the world. Essentially, he's fornicated up. If you get my meaning.
I can only hope that as my daughter embarks on her professional life, she will work for people who will afford her all the opportunities and chances that they would give anyone else. That they are nurturing, respectful and challenge her to be better and more brilliant every day. Heck, I hope the same for my sons. Not all their bosses will be thus, but I hope they get their fair share. And I hope none of them will have to deal with people such as this neanderthal - and I say that with apologies to all actual neanderthals - who bring such antiquated mindsets to the workplace.
One other thing. We all know people who think like this moron. (And I say that with apologies to all actual morons.) I would suggest that in an age of social media, companies cannot run the risk of having attitudes like these associated with them, that they cannot afford to be alienating constituencies on which they depend for workers, customers and business partners.
I'm not saying that we all have to be politically correct. But I am saying that we live in a complex, complicated and increasingly transparent world, and we may want to make sure that we're being represented in the marketplace by people who are inclusive, appropriate and respectful. And not idiots. (And I say that with apologies to all actual idiots.)
That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to know what is on your mind.
- KC's View: