I’ve noticed something lately covering the woke culture that’s threatening to turn corporate offices into university-style safe spaces: There are apparently limits to how far left big companies are willing to veer to gain progressive brownie points.
Case in point: the much-celebrated diversity hustle that companies had begun to embrace during our summer of “largely peaceful protests.” Of course, we all want a diverse workforce, but after the tragic murder of George Floyd, some firms thought it would be smart to indoctrinate office workers in that noxious fad known as Critical Race Theory.
CRT is an amalgam of left-wing talking points spewed out by the growing diversity-consulting business. The stated purpose by its practitioners sounds noble enough: Use CRT to root out racism and make the world a better place.
How CRT gets there is the problem. Racism gets rooted out mainly by brainwashing white people into believing they are inherently evil racists. They are inherently evil racists because America is systemically racist, no matter how much it has strived during its history to be better.
Thus to be good corporate citizens, they need to be re-educated and reprogrammed from their inherently racist past.
If you think that sounds a little like the stuff Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot pushed back in the day, you wouldn’t be wrong. CRT began where most dumb ideas begin, among leftists on college campuses. It wasn’t long before it somehow began seeping into the mainstream, into classrooms and finally into corporate America, particularly after the unrest of the past year.
Yet suddenly CRT has begun to face obstacles. Across the country, parents are objecting to teaching kids they are evil little racists. While it is always dangerous to draw broad conclusions from isolated instances, the evidence is mounting that CRT is now coming under review in corporate America as well.
According to my reporting, corporate HR departments, particularly on Wall Street, are worried that overly politicized and polarizing diversity training is among the most counterproductive fads in recent years if you want your workforce to get along.
Worse, it is just bad for business.
Consider: At the height of the racial unrest last year, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon was taking a knee in apparent support of the radical and Marxist “Black Lives Matter” movement.
The New York Times reported that the e-mail inbox of Robin DiAngelo, the academic considered one of the key architects of CRT, “was flooded with urgent e-mails” from various companies requesting that she share her thoughts with their employees.
One of those companies, according to the Times, was Goldman Sachs. But when Eleanor Terrett of Fox Business pressed Goldman on the matter, a senior executive denied that DiAngelo was ever retained for its diversity training. (DiAngelo did not respond to a request for comment.)
Goldman appears not to be alone in drawing the line in its CRT wokeness. Executives at Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and, yes, Dimon’s JPMorgan all claim they are not advocating CRT as part of their diversity training.
So why the ostensible about-face? Part of it is embarrassment, I believe. The big banks saw how foolish American Express, the mega-profitable credit-card company, looked recently when Chris Rufo of the Manhattan Institute reported how the company has forced its employees to take part in anti-American, anti-capitalist, CRT “bias” training. (Amex is still ducking my calls and e-mails on the matter).
CRT is also counterproductive. Big companies, particularly big investment banks, rely on teamwork. CRT does just the opposite, dividing people along racial lines between oppressors and the oppressed. “We need people to get along,” said one executive at a big bank that has cleansed CRT from training sessions.
Of course, it’s difficult for me to know whether the CRT cease-and-desist is real. (I’m not in the training sessions to determine if Goldman or JPMorgan, for example, have replaced CRT with something equally absurd that simply drops the noxious-sounding name.)
That said, workplace-inclusion consultants with whom I spoke say the trend away from this divisive training is happening because it’s both exhausting and idiotic to tell people they are inherently evil and expect them to work together.
“I think there’s a recognition that companies were failing to ask if they were leaning too much into identity along the lines of race, ethnicity and gender,” said Ilana Redstone, a sociology professor at the University of Illinois and founder of Diverse Perspectives Consulting. “I think that is now changing. There is a middle ground where those dimensions of identity matter and so does the individual. Not everyone sees their race, ethnicity or gender as the most important part of who they are.”