Even after years of diversity initiatives in corporate America, “inclusion” is more about meeting the numbers on gender, race, and other obvious differences, and less about pursuing intellectual, ideological, pedagogical, and stylistic diversity within teams and organizations.
Overall, the workforce diversity initiatives have succeeded in deterring explicit discriminatory behavior and preventing employee lawsuits. However, to make the representation numbers look good, corporate diversity initiatives have largely resulted in exclusionary practices for the preferential hiring and promoting of underrepresented demographic groups, much to the chagrin of those who are more competent, yet arbitrarily overlooked because the latter belong to groups that are numerically “overrepresented”—reverse discrimination, indeed. For fear of reprisal, the shortchanged majority is reluctant to speak out against this veiled unfairness or to call attention to the dichotomy between the ideals and the practice of affirmative action in the workplace.
Even if nearly all corporate mission statements extol the virtues of “valuing differences,” managers stifle individuality down in the trenches. They are less willing to be receptive of distinctive viewpoints and seek to mold their employees to conform to the existing culture of the workplace and to comply with the existing ways of doing things. Compliant, acquiescent employees who look the part are promoted in preference to exceptional, questioning employees who bring truly different perspectives to the table. The nail that sticks its head up indeed gets hammered down.