My Office is too White

clover wrote:
1Dgaf wrote:

Wanting to live with people because of their skin colour is a bit weird. I think it, broadly, makes more sense to want to live areas based on educational and financial profile of the people that live there.

I don't go out of my way to live in one area or another. I've just noticed that I'm more at ease physically around a varied group of people, and slightly more tense around only white people, even though I'm white. I just chalk it up to a socialization thing, since I grew up in a town that was 50/50 black and white.

Same here clover. I was born and raised in Detroit proper and went to Detroit Public Schools. My graduating high school class had one other white guy out of like 300 graduating students.

To me, socio-economic and educational criteria are tertiary to culture. I like cultural diversity. I feel more comfortable in a setting where people are bringing different things to the table. You can learn a lot from people who are poorer (or richer) and less (or more) educated than you. The growth comes from being exposed to different cultures. This is not dependent on skin color but obviously race plays a large role in culture.

Stengah wrote:
bandit0013 wrote:
TheArtOfScience wrote:
bandit0013 wrote:
TheArtOfScience wrote:

Already thought of that, lol. Pretty much any friend I would feel comfortable with working with already has a job.

So wait, you're saying you don't know of a pool of qualified minority applicants that should be working with you? I think that speaks volumes.

My friends are nearing 40 and have careers. I do know people (my friend's cousins and whatnot) who are qualified and could do this job but frankly I wouldn't subject them to this environment. Saying "hey, do you want to be the token black guy/girl in my office?!" isn't the greatest selling point.

Or it could be that 79% of Michigan's population is white. The "token black guy" is actually token, representing less than 15% of the state population.

I think this discussion is silly.

Addtional edit: based on your original statement of the number of black people in your office (3) compared to the total population in the office, if it matched census data you wouldn't have 3 black people, you would have 10. So yeah, this conversation is still silly.

Michigan's a big state. Using the demographics of the entire state to determine the diversity of an office in its major city is ridiculous. To get an accurate idea of what to expect for diversity, you really ought to narrow it down to the area in question. The 2010 census results for Detroit Michigan are: 10.6% white, 82.7% black. If you expand it out to Wayne County to account for commuters, it's 52.3% white, 40.5% black. Intentional or not, something is definitely out of whack there. Link (I don't know if it will work as it's based on a search result, if it doesn't go here and search for race / Detroit, Michigan, or race/Wayne County).

Fair enough. I'm assuming you need a college degree to be an actuary, statistics for white vs black having 4 year degree is something like 30% - 15%, so while 40.5% of the greater Detroit area is black, if his organization looks for college degrees then the pool of eligible candidates is pretty small.

bandit0013 wrote:
Stengah wrote:

Michigan's a big state. Using the demographics of the entire state to determine the diversity of an office in its major city is ridiculous. To get an accurate idea of what to expect for diversity, you really ought to narrow it down to the area in question. The 2010 census results for Detroit Michigan are: 10.6% white, 82.7% black. If you expand it out to Wayne County to account for commuters, it's 52.3% white, 40.5% black. Intentional or not, something is definitely out of whack there. Link (I don't know if it will work as it's based on a search result, if it doesn't go here and search for race / Detroit, Michigan, or race/Wayne County).

Fair enough. I'm assuming you need a college degree to be an actuary, statistics for white vs black having 4 year degree is something like 30% - 15%, so while 40.5% of the greater Detroit area is black, if his organization looks for college degrees then the pool of eligible candidates is pretty small.

Are you not reading what he's been writing? Out of his entire office (not just the actuaries) there is only one non-receptionist employee, and they are left over from before they were bought. The company has no one who speaks a language other than english fluently, and yet are supposed to service a very diverse population. It's not just that his fellow employees are only white, it's that those employees (at least the managers) are acting somewhat racist, and their customer service quality has suffered due to that and the new corporate attitude.

I think it's probably what Malor suggested, systemic racism that has become self-perpetuating, probably with some help from a racist manager involved somewhere in the hiring process that was brought in with the new owners.

This theory may not hold if as you say the company had previously been privately held, but maybe someone forced them to activate a Diversity Bomb? The churn you're seeing is the bomb's "fallout" being quietly cleaned up through a process of attrition.

Ulairi wrote:

Seattle has a huge diverse population. My wife has a gaggle of cousins living there due to the high population of Chinese people.

Thank you! I'd been wondering what a group of Chinese people was called.

Most of Seattle and the Eastside is diverse in terms of white + asian, but those black people that are there are scrunched into the south of Seattle and Renton (where Jimi Hendrix was from). I don't know if there was a process of, I don't know, I guess we could call it "population-scrunch-ization" going on.

I'd been wondering what a group of Chinese people was called.

A group.

H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

Most of Seattle and the Eastside is diverse in terms of white + asian, but those black people that are there are scrunched into the south of Seattle and Renton (where Jimi Hendrix was from). I don't know if there was a process of, I don't know, I guess we could call it "population-scrunch-ization" going on.

Like most American cities, there is some ugly segregation history here. Even now, sometimes when older houses are sold they have racial-restriction covenants on the deed and it has to be cleared up with the state.

Stengah wrote:

Are you not reading what he's been writing? Out of his entire office (not just the actuaries) there is only one non-receptionist employee, and they are left over from before they were bought. The company has no one who speaks a language other than english fluently, and yet are supposed to service a very diverse population. It's not just that his fellow employees are only white, it's that those employees (at least the managers) are acting somewhat racist, and their customer service quality has suffered due to that and the new corporate attitude.

I think it's probably what Malor suggested, systemic racism that has become self-perpetuating, probably with some help from a racist manager involved somewhere in the hiring process that was brought in with the new owners.

Bolded above, not sure what being white has to do with not speaking other languages or being able to service a diverse population. The submitter is white and claims to be able to do this quite well. I'm also taken aback by the overt racism in the headline, and his referral to his white coworkers as "barbie and ken" and a "sea of salt".

While things like "Detroit claim" and "Dearborn claim" used as code words to identify race is wrong minded and disturbing, the submitter's language and attitude in this posting is also overtly racist and in my mind defeats any chance of him seizing the high ground. If the submitter truly believes that his company is acting in a racist manner towards employees, he should file a complaint with the department of labor. He just better hope the investigation doesn't turn up this thread or that he hasn't made statements like the ones in this thread towards his white coworkers that can be proven or the complaint would just end up leading to his unemployment.

Additionally, per my statistic above, the submitter claims that the ratio is 3 to 67 in his office, which statistically isn't all that alarming. The submitter also claims he hasn't seen a minority interviewed in quite some time, but as far as I can tell the submitter isn't a hiring manager, so has no access to the applications received, the standards for reviewing said applications, and even goes so far as to claim that he, in all his diverse background and living situation only knows one person qualified for the job. If he's trying to prove his company is racist, it's an interesting way of providing evidence.

Could you... just say "TheArtOfScience" or "TAoS" or something? "The submitter" is kind of creepy.

Also per the supervisor making the "you speak the language" comment. Yeah, that's a pretty dumb thing to say, but on the other hand you set up the purpose of your post on the premise that the white people in your office can't communicate effectively with minorities like you can. Instead of being stunned and getting pissed about it, perhaps you should have spoken to the supervisor and said something like "Hey, you know that call you said I did a good job on because I was able to communicate effectively with the caller? I think it would really increase our customer satisfaction if we actively recruited some diverse people to handle accounts like those." Suddenly you've presented more diversity into a positive thing and made a pro-active statement towards achieving your goal of a "less white" workplace.

You'd probably also have more ground to stand on proving systemic racism if the supervisor blew you off or made a snide remark and you wouldn't have to resort to deception of having your black friend apply, etc.

Hypatian wrote:

Could you... just say "TheArtOfScience" or "TAoS" or something? "The submitter" is kind of creepy.

The responder needs to relax.

Time for a group hug.

bandit0013 wrote:
Stengah wrote:

Are you not reading what he's been writing? Out of his entire office (not just the actuaries) there is only one non-receptionist employee, and they are left over from before they were bought. The company has no one who speaks a language other than english fluently, and yet are supposed to service a very diverse population. It's not just that his fellow employees are only white, it's that those employees (at least the managers) are acting somewhat racist, and their customer service quality has suffered due to that and the new corporate attitude.

I think it's probably what Malor suggested, systemic racism that has become self-perpetuating, probably with some help from a racist manager involved somewhere in the hiring process that was brought in with the new owners.

Bolded above, not sure what being white has to do with not speaking other languages or being able to service a diverse population. The submitter is white and claims to be able to do this quite well. I'm also taken aback by the overt racism in the headline, and his referral to his white coworkers as "barbie and ken" and a "sea of salt".

While things like "Detroit claim" and "Dearborn claim" used as code words to identify race is wrong minded and disturbing, the submitter's language and attitude in this posting is also overtly racist and in my mind defeats any chance of him seizing the high ground. If the submitter truly believes that his company is acting in a racist manner towards employees, he should file a complaint with the department of labor. He just better hope the investigation doesn't turn up this thread or that he hasn't made statements like the ones in this thread towards his white coworkers that can be proven or the complaint would just end up leading to his unemployment.

Additionally, per my statistic above, the submitter claims that the ratio is 3 to 67 in his office, which statistically isn't all that alarming. The submitter also claims he hasn't seen a minority interviewed in quite some time, but as far as I can tell the submitter isn't a hiring manager, so has no access to the applications received, the standards for reviewing said applications, and even goes so far as to claim that he, in all his diverse background and living situation only knows one person qualified for the job. If he's trying to prove his company is racist, it's an interesting way of providing evidence.

A: Nowhere did I or TAoS say that being white precluded being able to fluently speak other languages or being able to service a diverse population. It was raised as an "also..." to show that the new corporate owners apparently don't care about minorities. In as diverse a city as Detroit, there's going to be a non-trivial segment of the population for whom english is not their primary language. If a company wants to provide a service to them, it's in the company's best interest to be able to communicate with them as best as possible, which means being able to converse in their primary language.

B: TAoS never said he only knew one qualified black person, he said he knew plenty of qualified black people, but that most of his friends already have their own careers. He said he also knows other people (he gave an example of his friend's cousin, but indicated that this was not the only person he knew that could do it) who could be interested, but "Do you want to be a token black person at my racist company" is a hard sale.

C: Your statistic above has already been shown to be extremely poorly applicable. To continue to use it undermines your position.

D: Any actual racist feelings TAoS may or may not have (Hint: Saying that there ought to be more diversity in a Detroit workplace is not inherently racist, nor are his literary flourishes about his situation) does not render his complaint invalid.

One of the fun properties of institutional racism is that, when you do it right, it is virtually impossible to prove.

THE SUBMITTER SUBMITS A SUBMISSION:

I notice that the RESPONDER bandit is an IT MANAGER. I see those management skills kicking in.

When I wrote this initial post I actually paused for a second to think about the potential "reverse racism" response. Then I submitted the post anyway. I am sorry you are offended by my statements. I've been the actual victim of racism as I grew up in a situation where I was the minority. I have been put in the Emergency room after getting the sh*t beat out of me solely because I was white. I was not given the same opportunities for college scholarships in my high school because on-the-spot admissions and recruiters came to my school to recruit minorities. I grew up loathing the term "white boy".

Perhaps it is that experience that allows me to see things from a different perspective. I'm guessing that some of the RESPONDERS have not seen the amount of institutional racism that I have had.

For example, when me and my (black) friends would go back in the day it was always me that drove. Whenever one of them drove we'd invariably get pulled over once we hit the burbs. It became SOP for me to drive and if we could have put a neon sign with an arrow pointing to the drivers window and the words "LOOK A WHITE GUY IT'S OK" written on it we would have.

On one occasion on summer break from college my friend and I were walking to Ferndale to go to the comic shop and the police stopped us. We were just walking along the side of the road in the afternoon chatting. The police rolled up on us and detained us. Asking us why we weren't in school (we're 20 years old officer) and what we were doing (uh, going to the comic shop). Looking back on it the way we were treated verged on a civil rights violation. The only times in my entire life I've been stopped just walking down the street minding my own business was when I was with a black person. I'm betting some of the RESPONDERS have never been stopped and humilated in such a fashion. I bet the RESPONDER would not be interrogated on the side of the road because the idea of a black comic book geek is foreign to the police.

Honestly I could go on and on. I could tell stories about the first time I walked into the cafeteria of Brody hall at MSU and was stunned by the segregation. Black people at this table, asian people at this table, white people in clumps hunched over their bowls of cereal.

This is starting to get off-topic but I want to illustrate that I am coming from a very different perspective than most white people when this discussion comes up. It's easy to not see the subtle racism that exists in our society when you are white and have white friends.

I hate white people so much I married one. A Ph.D, in fact, who grew up in Detroit also and we have a shared experience. Her experience was so strong that it led her to study anthropology with a focus on marginalized people. She travelled South America and worked with the indigenous population there, the Mapuche. The Mapuche are the equivalent of Native Americans here in the states but unlike the native american tribes they did not get their own nationhood. I have gone with her to South America and through her eyes and her studies seen the effects of racism and discrimination unfettered.

Let me be honest here. I don't care who sees this post. I don't care if my boss reads it anymore. Tomorrow is my 10th anniversary with this company and I've realized that I just don't give a sh*t about this place any more because they stopped giving a sh*t about the people they serve. My time here is coming to an end one way or the other and I am glad for it. I don't want to be a cog in a wheel. I don't want to work for the corporations that are controlling not only our country but the world. Getting fired at this point would be a relief and if I don't get fired then I'll quit within a year or two when my wife and I are ready to move.

What will my future be? Not entirely sure but it is going to be of my own making. Anyways...

In case you didn't get the notice ban- uh- RESPONDER, white people rule the world. Well, rich people rule the world and the rich people are white ergo white people rule the world. You may not be in touch with this fact but most non-white non-American people are.

My topic title was not a question, it was a statement. I sit in an office with a bunch of young, entitled white people who are handling claims for poor blacks and latinos and (not poor) arabic peoples. Our hiring practices are set up to filter out minorities and it shows. There is lack of empathy and understanding that is inexcusable when you consider that we are dealing with people who are hurt and confused by complicated laws. As an IT manager you don't have to make a call on whether or not to pay for someone's operation. There is something far more personal about this type of work and it is important to have an open mind when doing it. The minute you become cynical and think everyone is scamming you or is malingering or is ghetto or is stupid or is *whatever* you are doing a great disservice. When you think every bill you pay is going to help terrorists or drug dealers or gang bangers then you need to not be doing this job. We hold great power over people in very vulnerable situations and that used to mean something. Not anymore. Now I can't stomache sitting next to someone who has no life experience and went to U of M on daddys dime and is driving an Escalade that daddy bought them. I hear these people demean others after hanging up the phone with them and it pisses me off. I'm honestly just going to go off on someone pretty soon because I've experienced and seen enough injustice in my life to care. Not only can I no longer ignore it, I am reaching the point where I feel I have to do something about it.

I have no idea how long this is. I've multitasked and wrote this in-between snatches of paying bills. I'm sorry if it is really off-topic I just sort of vented it out.

TheArtOfScience wrote:

THE SUBMITTER SUBMITS A SUBMISSION:

I notice that the RESPONDER bandit is an IT MANAGER. I see those management skills kicking in.

Yes, because we have a whole government department whose sole purpose is to regulate improper hiring practices, you clearly choose not to engage them. You also choose not to engage the supervisor, (or even HR apparently) in your example about the customer service merits seeking out more diverse candidates. You have a valid point, but you do nothing constructive with it. So not only now are you dealing with vitriol in your heart, but you're not even attempting to do anything to make it better for future or potential workers in your area.

When I look at your situation, 10 years at a company, apparently known for good customer service skills, I see an opportunity to be proactive about pushing for changes. It's fair to point out though that if you decide to hate your coworkers and refer to them using the terms you have, you're not going to get anywhere improving the situation.

TheArtOfScience wrote:

Perhaps it is that experience that allows me to see things from a different perspective. I'm guessing that some of the RESPONDERS have not seen the amount of institutional racism that I have had.

So you can talk at length about your upbringing and negative experiences but they don't mean a damn thing for your current situation. My advice to you as a manager (this is my different perspective, you claim to value diverse perspectives, so take it with an open mind) is to use your positive reputation (if you have one), use the HR policies, use the department of labor if it comes to that. If you don't care enough though, I don't see why you're dwelling on it, find a new job and move on. I just don't see anything in your posts that is actively prohibiting you from seeking improvement except yourself. Perhaps there is more to the story.

Sorry you had to deal with institutionalized racism, TaoS - but I don't think that bandit's line of questioning is unfair.

While things like "Detroit claim" and "Dearborn claim" used as code words to identify race is wrong minded and disturbing, the submitter's language and attitude in this posting is also overtly racist and in my mind defeats any chance of him seizing the high ground.
You have a valid point, but you do nothing constructive with it.

You can't have it both ways, Bandit. I think you've shifted away from the argument you were making just to score another point.

Robear wrote:
While things like "Detroit claim" and "Dearborn claim" used as code words to identify race is wrong minded and disturbing, the submitter's language and attitude in this posting is also overtly racist and in my mind defeats any chance of him seizing the high ground.
You have a valid point, but you do nothing constructive with it.

You can't have it both ways, Bandit. I think you've shifted away from the argument you were making just to score another point.

Huh? I'm juggling several points. Can you clarify?

You're arguing that his point is invalid - that he's presented no evidence of racism. But then you assume he's right in order to tweak him for not taking this to the appropriate state agency. Either you've accepted his premise is valid, or you're working both sides of the argument. Or, of course, I may have misunderstood your positions.

Robear wrote:

You're arguing that his point is invalid - that he's presented no evidence of racism. But then you assume he's right in order to tweak him for not taking this to the appropriate state agency. Either you've accepted his premise is valid, or you're working both sides of the argument. Or, of course, I may have misunderstood your positions.

He clarified throughout the discussion and provided some more detail, so I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and posit that if it is going on, here's some proactive steps he can take.

H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

This theory may not hold if as you say the company had previously been privately held, but maybe someone forced them to activate a Diversity Bomb? The churn you're seeing is the bomb's "fallout" being quietly cleaned up through a process of attrition.

I'm unfamiliar with the term diversity bomb. Can someone clarify?

bandit - If someone came to you with the complaints that TAoS made would your first response be defensive? To call him out? Would someone like TAoS even feel comfortable to talk to you?

ME: Dept of Labor, my office is too white.
Dept of Labor: ....
ME: Uh...we don't hire minorities.
Dept of Labor: Is it because they are minorities that they weren't hired? If so, do you have proof?
Me: Uh...proof? Not exactly. How do I prove that?
Dept of Labor: Someone in your management has to be stupid enough to actually write something like that down. Oh, and you have to be able to access it.
Me: Uh...I don't recall a memo to that effect...
Dept of Labor: SON I AM DISSAPOINT. DONT WASTE OUR TIME.

or...

Me: HR Dept, my office is too white.
HR: ....
Me: No really, people are saying racist things.
HR: Oh my, we should investigate this immediately. We will be sure to investigate this. By the way, we notice that you didn't dot the "i" in your name when you signed your last employee acknowledgement form.
Me: oops sorry.
HR: Not yet, but you will be.
Me: Did I say white people? I meant RIGHT people. Like...we need to hire..uh..the right people. And we are doing that. Awesome job! Calling to tell you guys what an awesome job you do!
HR: Uhm hmm, have a good day.

10 Minutes Later

Me: Why do I have 300 new claims? I can't possib- OH FFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU
HR: *trollface*

Have you ever considered that maybe you have become so de-sensitized to race that your office is actually a veritable melting pot of diversity but you don't notice?

goman wrote:

bandit - If someone came to you with the complaints that TAoS made would your first response be defensive? To call him out? Would someone like TAoS even feel comfortable to talk to you?

Being that I manage both males and females and on my staff there are different diverse backgrounds (roman catholic white male, southern baptist white female, turkish muslim male, Hindu India female, and orthodox jew) no, I would not be defensive. However, as per TAoS says above, if the conversation started with "Hey boss, the office is too white" I probably would be defensive, because that's a pretty racially charged statement to just walk up and hit someone in the face with. The appropriate response from myself, or any professional manager would be to have TAoS document the complaint (likely in the presence of HR) and then investigate.

Allegations of harassment, racism, sexism, etc need to be treated seriously by management, but as a manager you have an obligation to protect others from frivolous accusations as well. Also, you run into the tricky situation of what is banter. TAoS talks about "ken and barbie" and being in a "sea of salt" while his coworkers talk about "Detroit Claim" as a reference to the caller being black. If I was witness to these things as a manager I would probably get all the employees together and tell them to grow up and treat people with respect.

I would think my employees feel comfortable talking to me because I make it a point to build a sense of camaraderie in my team. As far as "someone like TAoS" being comfortable talking to me, you'd have to ask him. I have a feeling that his level of anger at his current workplace would make him unconstructive at talking to anyone about it.

SallyNasty wrote:

Have you ever considered that maybe you have become so de-sensitized to race that your office is actually a veritable melting pot of diversity but you don't notice?

I'm considering it's the opposite problem, seems over sensitized.

SallyNasty wrote:

Have you ever considered that maybe you have become so de-sensitized to race that your office is actually a veritable melting pot of diversity but you don't notice?

I'd say I'm the opposite of de-sensitized.

The office is now full of young people who grew up in the suburbs and all go out drinking together after work. We have a referral program in place so we have done things like hire someone who refers his girlfriend who refers her girlfriend and then you have people with pre-existing relationships in the office forming cliques. They are all roughly in the 24-30 y/o age range.

I might also add that they are f*cking like rabbits. We've recently had two employees marry each other and two other couples move in together. There's a lot of love and young lust in the air.

So all white. All from pretty much the same upper middle class suburban background. All roughly the same age bracket.

At 37 I'm one of the old guys and with 10 years in the company I have more seniority than the vast majority of people. When I started the job I would say a good third of the office was over 40 years old and, as I mentioned, from diverse backgrounds.

My comment was an attempt at levity:)

On a serious note - that age/education/economic/racial bracket is the cheap immigrant labor of the office world. It may be that the white kids will just do the work cheaper, although it is really surprising to me that there is no black employees?

TheArtOfScience wrote:
SallyNasty wrote:

Have you ever considered that maybe you have become so de-sensitized to race that your office is actually a veritable melting pot of diversity but you don't notice?

I'd say I'm the opposite of de-sensitized.

The office is now full of young people who grew up in the suburbs and all go out drinking together after work. We have a referral program in place so we have done things like hire someone who refers his girlfriend who refers her girlfriend and then you have people with pre-existing relationships in the office forming cliques. They are all roughly in the 24-30 y/o age range.

I might also add that they are f*cking like rabbits. We've recently had two employees marry each other and two other couples move in together. There's a lot of love and young lust in the air.

So all white. All from pretty much the same upper middle class suburban background. All roughly the same age bracket.

At 37 I'm one of the old guys and with 10 years in the company I have more seniority than the vast majority of people. When I started the job I would say a good third of the office was over 40 years old and, as I mentioned, from diverse backgrounds.

You kind of come off as an old man trying to tell us darn kids to keep off your yard. I think you found your problem, people are referring their friends not some racial plot. My wife got her job because she went to the same high school as the hiring manager at the firm, who was also from taiwan. Relationships sometimes mean more than qualifications because most people can be trained to do most jobs, well enough.

Yep. Expecting the people I work with to to show some empathy and compassion, much less professionalism, equates to me being an old fogey with those old fashioned ideals telling you youngsters to get offa mah lawn.

I appreciate the detective work, hadn't thought of that myself. See...the thing is management still decides who to hire. So what you are saying is that as long as the institutional racism is the result of cronyism and nepotism then it isn't really racist!

It's not that we don't want minorities, we're just too busy hiring awesome white folks to get around to it!

For the minority that is looking for a job right now I doubt that will offer much solace. But hey, that's what McDonald's is for right?