I'm a designer for a global firm that is well over 100 years old . This firm since the 70s has woven diversity as a brand and goal into into the fabric of the company.
I've been interviewing board members, presidents, c-level folks and vp's to help develop a product.
its a planning tool. its a tool for higher-ups to look back on where the company has been and where the company has gone. Its a comprehensive stack of forms.
A lot of the questions are based around money. What was made and what was spent. Other questions were around efficiency, that is how you work and how well you work.
In the dozens of questions there is one question that directly calls out diversity. Something along the lines of
"Racial, orientation, gender diversity is a way of life here...what have you done to push this agenda?"
I'm paraphrasing but thats the general idea.
During one of the long interview sessions one high ranking person looked at me, looked at the group and said
"To be honest, no one fills out this part. I don't know what this has to do with anything...we should get rid of it really"
So the context was that we were putting features or problem areas on the chopping block.
That one part makes it so no one wants to use the tool? Lets maybe cut it out.
That other thing that everyone hates to fill out? Lets also maybe cut that part out too.
It wasn't my job to push back in that moment, I was supposed to listen to collect data.
When I think about the string of racially related corporate PR gaffes and how the overwhelming sentiment seems to be "this would not be an issue if a black person was in the room" I think to myself
"I was the black person in the room...I was the only person of color in the room"
Thinking about it some more...its kind of unsettling to witness a very large idea that affects the culture of a company and ultimately the lives of others just shift and potentially disappear into thin air.
I'm not going to let this one die.
I'm thinking of how this is a design issue that can be resolved. I believe folks don't want to talk about race because they don't want to be wrong so they cop out and just write "n/a"
1. "I doubt I would have pushed it. " In response to Reply # 0
I know you were paraphrasing, but this part of the question would trip me up too "what have you done to push this agenda"...
It's accusatory in tone. It puts the onus on the reader, and if they have no bearing on that component, it's likely they have no valid way of answering the question.
I'm biased though, I learned a LOT about survey design vicariously through my wife when she was in grad school.... bad surveys are thing, and a major issue in many industries. This reeks of a bad survey IMO.
4. "The question does seem misplaced" In response to Reply # 0
A lot of business people think diversity has dubious ROI to begin with so they mostly consider it as "nice-to-have" but not a real goal. Hitting their numbers is always going to take precedence to them. And in the context of that survey, they can be hitting their numbers but come out looking bad if they don't have a good answer to the diversity question so I'm not surprised they avoid it.
An important question though is whether the company actually has programs in place to promote diversity. If they don't, then saying it is so important to the company is disingenuous.
There are strong social factors that limit diversity in most workplaces and it takes a concerted effort to overcome them. Some managers may innately know how to but most won't so if you leave it up to them, they're going to avoid the conversation and focus on what they understand.
8. "RE: damn... this is a great question" In response to Reply # 5
>a good look into "collecting data" and not taking it >personally or getting involved. > thats my job. besides, once you make people clam up then you essentially fuck the whole session and taint the data.
>but i guess part of it is taking their answers or non answers >into account and tweaking the product. >
>can you find someone else high ranking who can go to bat for >you? > >
I'm going to wait this one out. We are having several rounds of revisions and if the question drops off then I might bring it up.
6. "this is the actual question FYI:" In response to Reply # 0
Key points changed for reasons.
"Our company works hard to promote the recruitment, retention and advancement of employees of diverse backgrounds at all levels. Describe your plans and efforts to support the company's commitment to diversity and inclusion through staffing, mentoring, recruiting and participation in diversity initiatives"
11. "I think you're circling around the real issue" In response to Reply # 10
which is not whether or not the question is flawed, it's that if the company's so-called commitment is real, then clueless white execs likely need explicit coaching on how to support it, let alone articulate that support
or otherwise, maybe the commitment is flimsy, in which case the question is fucked