Over the years I have served on numerous advisory boards, supposedly to improve service to ethnic communities or to diversify the work force. From this experience I learned: Most employers do not hire minorities because they know little about the disenfranchised; government delivers shoddy service as a result of unfamiliarity; and free advice is ignored.
Employers tell me they cannot find qualified minority employees above the entry level. Minority employees and applicants feel uncomfortable in surroundings where they are an oddity. Employers try to integrate by hiring returned missionaries who speak a foreign language and by forming advisory boards.
The phrase "diverse work force" is the fashionable mode to convey a sense of concern about colorless workplaces. The oft-quoted phrase conveys a politically correct sense of equity without admitting minorities are not employed.
An example of how the enlightened "diverse" employer thinks is my alma mater, the University of Utah. An internal examination of the university work force and student body found it hires few from our minority community and educates few students of color.
U. President Bernard Machen has stated diversity is his priority.
Machen believes educating a white male from Delta who did not serve a mission is the same as educating a Hispanic. This isn't a new idea; this is what civil rights laws were supposed to stop. This antiquated thinking endorses intolerance by diversifying with more of the same.
"Diversity," as defined by Machen, does not alleviate the divisiveness of discrimination, it perpetuates it. Talk of a "diverse" work force means an employer has given up trying to integrate the work force because it is difficult and resorts to a pre-civil rights mentality of contriving reasons to exclude people. No one said it is easy to undo discriminatory practices.
Discrimination is not eradicated by using gimmickry to evade a moral and legal duty. Inclusiveness means real effort.
Hispanics will soon comprise 25 percent of our population and are getting vocal about not being hired or educated, and an angry, undereducated, underemployed, segregated community spells trouble. My advice is avoid this trouble by not giving up on assimilation; it has worked for hundreds of years; it will work again if we give it a chance.
Utah native Mike Martinez, an attorney in private practice, is active in Hispanic affairs. He has previously worked in the Utah Attorney General's Office, the Salt Lake County Attorney's Office and for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington, D.C. E-mail: email@example.com.