shootermaker and former blogger TNA points me to this story:
Former Telstra CEO David Thodey has shared the story of how he was publicly shamed in front of an arena crowd by world-renowned diversity trainer Jane Elliott in what he calls “one of the most significant moments of my career.”
This ought to be good. We need more senior executives finally waking up to the sham that is “diversity” in modern corporations and the destructive effect of identity politics.
While working for IBM around 2000, Thodey was invited to an event sponsored by Big Blue at which Jane Elliott would be talking.
Elliott is famous for her then controversial Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes experiment which started in an Iowa classroom in the days after Martin Luther King was assassinated. Elliott, then a primary schoolteacher, segregated the class into the blue eyed and brown eyed. She then gave one group special privileges and chastised the other, before reversing the special treatment the following week.
Thus ramming home the point that people ought not to be divided into groups based on physical characteristics and then treated differently? I’m fully on board.
She went on to become a leading workplace diversity trainer for the likes of IBM, General Electric, Exxon, and AT&T, notoriety that brought her to Sydney to speak to a 3,500 strong Sydney Entertainment Centre crowd.
Thodey was brought up to stand on one side of the stage and a Torres Strait Islander woman was brought up to stand on the opposite side. Elliott then asked Thodey how tall he was and how he felt about it.
“I said, ‘I don’t really think about it’. She turned to the Torres Strait Islander woman and asked. She said ‘I’m 5 foot one and well it’s really hard actually. I go into rooms and I can’t see people. I tend to be looking up and it’s really hard and I find it really quite difficult.’”
I’m 6’4″ tall, and were I Thodey I’d have had a simple response to that: economy-class travel. And why does it matter that the woman was a Torres Strait Islander? Why not just say it was a woman?
Elliott then asked Thodey how he felt about being a man. He said: “I was just born that way and I don’t think about it”. The woman said: “It’s very hard being a Torres Strait Islander woman. People don’t listen to me when I say things.”
This is hardly unique to women who hail from islands in the Torres Strait and people not listening to you is probably not the best example of a life of hardship: that would put every wife on the planet into the category of Mumbai Street-Urchin.
“This went on. I was totally unconscious of the awareness of my perspective and someone else’s. This is in front of thousands of people. And I got smaller and smaller. I was really embarrassed,” Thodey said.
Yeah, I’d be pretty embarrassed at this ludicrous display of virtue signalling, too. I’m beginning to understand why the penny dropped.
But the humiliation wasn’t over. As Thodey left the stage he remembers touching Elliott on the back.
A kidney punch?
“She turned and said – ‘What gives you the right to touch me!?’ At which point I ran off the stage completely! That was probably one of the most significant moments of my career. It’s always caused me to reflect.”
I can well believe it! This would cause any half-sensible executive to tear up their Corporate Diversity Policy, cancel all associated training courses, and fire the idiot who booked this Elliott woman to speak in the first place.
That’s not what he did at all.
During his time as head of Telstra, Thodey enacted a ‘flexible working for all roles’ policy and set-up a diversity council.
Oh dear lord.
He also enforced a ‘50/50 if not why not?’ missive to all levels of the telco and was a founding member of the Male Champions of Change group.
The problem of gender equity had to be tackled on a personal level, he said.
What I thought was an article on a brainwashed fool waking up and smelling the roses has turned out to be one whereby a feeble-minded climber of the greasy pole is bullied into buying a barrow of fresh horseshit before spreading it around a large corporation.
“You can get all carried away with inclusion and gender equity as an ethical or equality or egalitarian perspective.
An issue that has yet to plague me.
But this goes deeper and often we don’t have very honest discussions about it and I think it’s really important we do. This needs to be personal because if it isn’t it won’t change.”
Lots of discussions bring about change? Have all these people been educated in France?
Success would only come from being bold, Thodey added.
Would examples of such boldness include running off the stage when some harpy levels some ludicrous accusation against you?
“You need to be bold. The problem is it’s easy to get into the status quo and not change. The only way I know how to change is push the boundaries. You’ve got to be willing to be unaccepting of bad behaviour, you’ve got to call it out, and you’ve got to be really strong with it,” Thodey said.
Right, but what’s this got to do with a Torres Strait Islander woman being short? Will she be offered free sessions on the rack they have down in the local museum of medieval torture? Or is Longshanks Newman requested to come to the conference room for leg amputation?
“You need to measure you need to be incredibly detailed in terms of the data.
A CEO meticulously collecting data on his employees? Sounds wonderful.
Then you’ve got to put in good programmes to support it. Then you’ve got to look for the unseen signals. Talk to people and ask them how things are going because people will actually put up with too much.”
I wonder who was doing the CEO’s job when this Thodey clown was playing Social Worker?