Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What if I don't like some of my company's diversity efforts?

Dear Diversity Diva: Enough is enough. I work for a big company that likes to brag about its diversity efforts in an annual report. In flipping through it, I noticed that the company gave money to a group that supported the legalization of gay marriage, something completely against my religious beliefs. How is that fair? — Seeking Some Diverse Diversity

Dear Seeking: Your question strikes at the heart of what workplace diversity represents.

For some, it’s about preventing discrimination. For others, it’s about promoting a wide range of thought that comes from a wide range of backgrounds that makes for better business. What you are talking about is a whole lot trickier — diversity as a means to promote an agenda. And inherent in certain agendas is equally fierce opposition.

You didn’t mention it, but maybe your company was covering its bases by supporting gay marriage organizations because it had supported other groups that were at the other extreme of the issue. If so, would you still be upset? For example, if your company donated $500 to the Republicans and $500 to Democrats, would you think that was OK because its equitable or would you be upset that anything was given to the party you can’t stand?

While you always have the right to take offense at something that your company does, if it’s not illegal, it just remains a observation of how your organization’s values compares to your own. Of course, you can react in other ways if you are a shareholder in the company.

If the situation continues to bother you, I would suggest going to the person in charge of diversity at your organization and having this conversation.

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