A passionate, levelheaded look at the necessity of diversity in the workplace.
In his direct, immensely readable nonfiction debut, Richardson, an African-American, judges the idea of workplace diversity on pragmatic grounds: “Diversity as a workplace concept should be measured for its effectiveness,” he writes. But he opposes the idea of diversity for diversity’s sake: “The thought still exists,” he writes, “that if we collect a comfortable number of people who aren’t White, male, and heterosexual, we’d have diversity!”—something that he flatly calls “a completely flawed ideology.” In this eye-opening work, Richardson draws extensively on his own personal history growing up in the late 1960s and ’70s, after major civil rights gains had been achieved. He’s a U.S. Air Force veteran and New York state trooper who was in Manhattan on 9/11 and who patrolled the streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In barbed, personal anecdotes with a good deal of dry humor, he relates his own experiences with racism: “If I walked through a parking lot, every White woman who caught a glimpse of my dark skin locked their car doors in fear,” he writes. “It sounded like a symphony, with every lock hitting its note at the precise same time.” He also stresses the fundamental differences between three often confused ideas: affirmative action, which he says was designed mainly to level the employment playing field for nonwhite minorities; equal opportunity programs, which he says were created to redress discrimination that still remained; and diversity itself, which he characterizes as the incorporation of a broad variety of cultural, racial, and personal viewpoints into communal thinking—with the goal of improving that thinking: “Profits, high productivity, loyalty, etc. are the rewards received when diversity is implemented correctly,” he writes. “They aren’t the reason for it—survival is.”
An engaging, personal, and ultimately persuasive examination of the true worth of diversity.