Tuesday, 4 May 2010

A lack of rainbow in management

There are people who talk about diversity and ethnicity with a self righteous indignation and I wonder sometimes what drives them. I was at a recent leadership planning meeting with a group of high powered HR people who scared me in their self righteous condemnation and damnation of my view that we are all intrinsically racist and that many of us are now even aware of it. I am shaded by my West of Ireland upbringing where the first time I saw a turban it was worn in a manufacturing unit I was being asked to run in the UK and where my curiosity about all things Punjab first appeared. I was 30. I would love to say that as the father-in-law and grandfather of what some inappropriately call non ethnic Anglo Saxon, that I was not racist. I try very hard not to be. I look to learn and grow in becoming more tolerant and understanding. However my shaped experiences and prejudices are things that I need to constantly unlearn.

In this room of HR the views of an elite, 90% primarily white, audience was that what I was saying, believing and trying to do, was unacceptable in their eyes. We should all start from the premise that there is so much we do not know. There is so much ingrained into my psyche that each day I have to say to myself, “today I will become less racist and I will try to learn more about my prejudices.”

I feel happy for those who can preach from a high moral position and look down and frown upon us lesser mortals whose whole ethos is to get better. They must be so blessed I wish them well.

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