I have noticed a trend among my fellow diversity candidates.
Oh, not the obvious that small minded folks cannot deal with the lack of conformity to established norms and have done everything possible to make our lives a living hell.
I am actually quite convinced that is not a feeling unique to any group.
For we all work and are opposed by folks with an opposite agenda.
First of all, this is not simply a difference of purpose:
As an engineer my best designs are compromised to what the bean counters will allow.
Does that mean that the bean counters are deliberately trying to prevent excellence?
They are working to balance the budget and look for efficient ways to get a close enough version of what I envision.
So we are not being personally attacked in that situation as it may seem; which is a vast difference from when someone is attacking or discriminating against us based on who or what we are.
Someone oppressing one’s work is not the same as dislike or disdain of who we are at the core.
However when someone is discriminated against for something beyond their control:
their color or gender, their birthplace, or lineage that is a completely different, more personal and heinous attack.
Even things that are disputed as being inherent: gender identity and sexual orientation are personal and have zero impact whatsoever on the value of a person ESPECIALLY within a society or a company.
Who is to say whether heterosexuality or homosexuality is better?
Heterosexual people continue the species and homosexual people prevent overpopulation.
In light of our current population: I almost feel that if anyone were given status: that those who are not increasing the population are more beneficial to balance our species with resources, and yet LGBTQI people tend to be the most maligned in society, media, religion. and around the world.
For that reason alone homophobia makes no sense really.
So why do these attitudes find themselves into the workplace?
I have seen and heard discrimination for my entire life. Bigotry and prejudice exist in nearly every company. WHY?
The reasons are as complex as the people who have these conformist attitudes.
But the one thing that seems consistent is that putting others down seems to make some feel better about themselves.
For others being around others like themselves might provide a feeling of safety and security.
So the unique, unusual, non-conforming are ostracized, maligned, dismissed, ignored, suppressed, avoided, shunned at best. At worst: attacked and murdered by folks with insecurities.
As someone who has extensive multi-decade first-hand experience with this: at first it made me crazy. I was filled with fear and anxiety for my very life as even as a child I was beaten severely to the point of broken ribs, countless broken noses, broken hands, and a smashed skull all during my childhood.
I found myself suffering abuse at school and home and was a homeless teen who was stabbed, shot at, robbed, beaten and raped multiple times. Employers seldom hired me and even when they did it was so full of fear and hate that I was really quite an awful person to be around. My first couple of decades were pure terror. But at some point I grew tired of the venom and negative energy and began a gradual shift that has taken decades. The only negative that kept bringing me back were the times where I witnessed someone else being harmed. The many funerals for LGBTQI people that we attended and the many more who simply vanished from the community never seen again.
The last time that I was personally physically and violently attacked was in 2000. Back then we used to hang out in close-knit communities and I did for a few more years continue to do so to seek solace and companionship and protection of our own herd.
But over time laws and attitudes have changed and we are beginning to find inroads and acceptance in mainstream society. In 2o04 a major breakthrough came where California state law began to offer protections to all people and things were put into motion that would forever rock the nation.
Companies began to enable people from the LGBTQI community and we started coming out. I personally began my own transition in earnest and within a mere 3 years had attained what seemed to be impossible: gainful employment and acceptance in society.
Since then I have flourished. My income has skyrocketed and success has followed. My work has become something that I love and have a whole new love for instead of a place to dread.
This is not the end however.
We ALL are aware of a few haters who talk bad about me behind my back.
I have been backstabbed by a small number of coworkers at almost every employer. (What? You thought that I didn’t know??? Just because I treated you with kindness did not mean that I was stupid or blind, it meant that I understood that my being different scared you. If anything, I felt bad for you because I lived on fear and hate for decades before I broke free).
Everyone who has worked with me at any job EVER knows someone that I am referring to.
Do NOT hate them.
When I was young and stupid: I did terrible things too.
I hurt others early in my life.
I was filled with hate and fear.
Hurt people hurt people, the only difficult part is being hurt and not spreading the hurt.
Hating people who are filled with hate and fear only spreads the poison.
When you see injustice: speak against the injustice not the person.
We cannot hate away hate.
We can only end hate with understanding, with compassion and with time.
Success is building a foundation from the bricks that people throw at us.
We cannot have happiness with negative thoughts and energy robbing us.
The person who despises another has something within themselves that they dislike. For we cannot hate another without hating something within ourselves.
When one finger points forward three point back.
While I fight for equality for all: I realize that enduring adversity has made me who I am today. Thanks to the haters for teaching me empathy, compassion and strength. If you are undergoing something like this: it gets better. With time we learn how to adapt, overcome and grow. In the process we learn so many skills that make us a better problem-solver, a better manager and a wiser person.
Like Ghandi or Nelson Mandela whose genius was created by oppression: we too will find that the seeds of our victory are in the bullets that are being fired at us.
Being a diversity candidate: I appreciate and value diversity more than many or most.
I have been in a room full of smart people (many or most who were smarter than me) and yet I solved a problem that eluded everyone else there.
At the same time: I have been in a conference call where everyone else understood something that eluded me.
And that has taught me the value of teamwork, which is so rare that I can count on one hand how many teams that I have really been on where people had a single minded purpose and focus and actually worked with one another to create a better product. I have been in companies where the leadership was so destructive that it actually created a spirit of discord and division.
Does the statement “united we stand, divided we fall” cease to make sense in business?
Cliques destroy departments, divisions, and companies.
Either everyone is included or the seeds of failure are being sown by those who create the division.
Everywhere that I go, and everywhere that I have been I watch and see very few who understand this.
Perhaps if you had experienced some being an outcast you would understand the damage that you do to your business?
Perhaps you would see how you undermine and harm yourself when you feel like you are insulating yourself from someone that you perceive as a threat for an irrational reason?
As management begins to include diversity candidates who have overcome adversity: you will see a new resurgence in those businesses.
Because we understand, we get it.
Diversity candidates are the leaders of the future.
People who have been forced to adapt and overcome oppression are unstoppable. We have taken everything that you can dish out and we are still here with open minds, hearts and arms hoping that those who have mistreated us have finally matured to a point where we can be cohesive and productive together. We are here. Shall we unite? Shall we make ourselves both bigger together? Or will we continue to isolate ourselves in hopes that we can go it all alone?
When two minds come together: a third mind is created. It increases exponentially; the more cohesive the minds, and the more diverse.
For who can teach us most?
Those who are like us?
Or those who are different?