I have just listened to a recent podcast wherein my friend Prof. Robert Washburn interviewed Cobourg Councillor Emily Chorley. She explains why the Town of Cobourg was launching an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion project; read and listen here on consider-this.ca.
When asked for an example of a personal issue with exclusion Ms Chorley could only point to her mother’s case in 1970 where she was denied a job because of the colour of her skin. The interview continued and Ms Chorley admitted that she doesn’t know how prevalent the issue of discrimination based on gender, race or other causes is in Cobourg but “unconscious bias lies under the surface.”
While I would be the first to admit that discrimination does exist, particularly against the disabled that is an accessibility issue, not gender based or a racial issue. How the Town as an employer or a service provider is dragged into this issue is a discussion in itself.
The biggest growth industry in the Human Resources field (HR) is sensitivity training. Wikipedia definition here. Sensitivity training, also known as diversity training, is a type of program designed to help facilitate respect between groups that include people with different genders, religions, ages, races, or sexual orientations. The exact procedures can vary depending on the leader of the training, but typically involve lectures, discussions, and exercises to help participants understand and respect one another. The training can be implemented anywhere, but tends to be most common in workplaces and educational environments.
As seen in the quote above this type of training is deemed necessary when members of a diverse workforce have inter-personal problems, that affect the workplace. The need for such training becomes apparent when the behaviour in the workforce emerges when one person cannot see the problems of another because they are not of the same socialisation or ethnic group or same class of Society as they are. In other words they cannot see or don’t care about the feelings of a co-worker. If a worker demonstrates such outward behaviour then it must be corrected if the workplace is to be an efficient and cohesive one.
Enter HR with a busload of consultants, usually called ‘diversity trainers’ and workshops ensue, all designed to correct behaviour.
BUT that type of visible behaviour is not enough for the zealots. If you do not demonstrate bias, they say, it is still there and has to be exposed. This is “Unconscious Bias”: a quote from Psychology Today, “Unconscious bias (also known as implicit bias) refers to unconscious forms of discrimination and stereotyping based on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, age, and so on. It differs from cognitive bias, which is a predictable pattern of mental errors that result in us misperceiving reality and, as a result, deviating away from the most likely way of reaching our goals.
Back to the “Thought Police” – this activity; rooting out unconscious bias is a universal activity conducted by consultants and sold to Society as a necessary activity. The problem is that this problem is a state of mind not expressed in physical activity so it cannot be seen. But these practitioners will expose it through a series of exercises/workshops at great expense and mental upheaval for those that will be affected by its discovery.
If any of the members of Council can show me an example of where the Town has excluded any one from its activities then I might agree that it is necessary, but until then “I am from Missouri (the show-me State)”. Leave well alone, the Town employees are smart, and aware enough to know how to relate to Cobourgers.