Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Is my boss picking on me for racial reasons?

Dear Diversity Diva: This may not seem like a diversity question, but I just don’t know. My boss is another race than I am, and she’s always sneaking up behind me, looking over my shoulder, to see what’s on my computer screen. In my gut, I think that this boss is picking on me for racial reasons even though I don’t have any problems with the other supervisors and haven’t really had any other problems at work. So am I just being paranoid? — Snippy About Snooping Bosses

Dear Snippy: You’re right to wonder if your issue is a diversity issue. Diversity, generally speaking, is about different perceptions and treatments and the role of differences among groups in the workplace.

Your case doesn’t seem to really be about diversity because you gave no indication about whether this was happening to anyone else.

It sounds like you’re asking a discrimination question disguised as a diversity issue. And this would be something you need to talk over with another supervisor or a human resources person.

Your gut feeling that your boss is “picking” on you because of your race might be entirely accurate and something that your friends and close colleagues might agree with you on when you talk about it on the sly. But it’s just as likely that your boss doesn’t care for you for any number of other reasons and it has nothing to do with race. But constant speculation isn’t going to make your days any easier, especially if this is the only real problem you have at work.

Either way, bosses have the right to see what their employees are up to when they are supposed to be working.

In a truly diverse world, some people who are different than you aren’t going to like you sometimes, and more times than not, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.

In this case, since you suspect that your boss is creeping up behind you because she has some issue with you, regardless of what the issue is, your best bet is to make sure she only sees work when she looks at your computer screen.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

When majority member sits on minority panel

Dear Diversity Diva: I’m a white guy who sits on the diversity committee where I work. Maybe I’m just naive, but my company seems pretty diverse to me, so how do we know when we’ve achieved diversity? — Making Progress

Dear Making Progress: That’s a great question. And depending on whom you ask, you’ll get several different answers.
Ultimately, I think the answer anyone gives will be based on the view from their seat. For example, if you’re a member of a racial minority, you’re going to be painfully aware of how few members of minority racial groups, particularly your own, work with you. On the other hand, if you’re in the majority racial group for your workplace, then you may tend to view the minority employees that you do have as the sign of great strides toward diversity.
Additionally, diversity is about leadership. So, if all your leaders are monopolized by one group, even if the working core is “diverse,” that still may not be much of an achievement.
However, diversity isn’t just about numbers. If it were, then it would be an easy number to achieve — you would get a demographic breakdown of the community you live in and just make sure you had the proportionate number in your organization.
No, diversity also is about treatment of the different groups within an organization. That’s one of the reasons most diversity initiatives in recent years have been renamed “diversity and inclusion.”
While some write that off as just words and another stab at political correctness, words do mean something. Inclusion means that a company or organization aims to make sure the workplace doesn’t leave anyone out.
Therefore, I don’t think that diversity is ever something that an organization achieves. Rather, it’s a mandate to keep fairness and equity as an objective that is a continual process of progress and not just a single, final achievement.