Friday, October 12, 2018
Berlin, Germany– She had the perfect job, the culmination of her excellent and expensive education: senior executive of diversity something at a high-tech company. It was her big day, she told the crowd. She was about to present all her best ideas about how the business could be more egalitarian.
But then she hit the glass ceiling. “And it was painful,” she said. “Very, very painful.”
As she was firing up her slide show, she explained, she noticed that some of the executives in attendance were glancing at their cellphones. But that was only the beginning. As she moved ahead with the pièce de résistance of her young life’s work, she noticed that some people were still not paying attention. And it got worse. Some had the nerve to interrupt her and ask questions. There were even a few that challenged her ideas.
Happily, she said, this set her on a course of discovery that led to her current campaign to make the business world a better place by getting people to understand their privileges and stop with all these micro-aggressions.
Had I been there on her “big day,” what would I have done? Would I have nodded off or turned away?
Or worse, might I have raised my hand and asked a question?
Might I have asked something like: “Did you ever wonder about the possibility that your presentation was not useful or that your ideas were not good ones or that the very job you got hired to do had nothing to do with the function of that or any other business?”
But questions, as we know, can be micro-aggressions. And micro-aggressions are a form of violence because they might hurt someone’s feelings. Let’s be honest, they should be illegal.