Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The administrative class gets ever-more clever about getting inside the heads of the techno-eunuchs it employs

Have you always detected a certain odor wafting from such activities as team-building and leadership training? A certain combination of organizational conformity, insufferable jargon and touchy-feely perkiness?

Did you, when smelling said odor, think, this is going to take on an ever-more lefty tone?

Was it when "diversity" became part of one's orientation when joining a large bureaucratic organization, or perhaps when "giving back to the community" became a job requirement?

Well, check out how refined the effort to probe the sanctity of the space inside your skull has become. How you're assessed by your organization is no longer a matter of what you say and do, it extends to thoughts and assumptions you might not even be aware of having:

Students at the University of Pennsylvania will learn to confront their “denial and unconscious bias” surrounding race, gender, sexuality, and other minority statuses during a new course offered this summer.
The class, “Diversity and Inclusion: Strategies to Confront Bias and Enhance Collaboration in 21st Century Organizations,” will be co-taught by Dr. Aviva Legatt, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvey Floyd, an organizational psychologist who works in leadership development.
“In the workplace, it is inevitable that difference between individuals will cause conflict—whether explicit or beneath the surface,” the course description says. “Denial and unconscious bias will prevent issues from being addressed.”
While decades of pop-psychology has argued that unconscious bias is a major influence on how white people treat black people, or how heterosexual people treat the gay community, new research has actually found scarce evidence to prove this link.
Gregory Mitchell, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, reviewed the most current research on the issue earlier this year and concluded:
Seventeen years after introduction of the [test that measures unconscious bias], only a handful of studies have examined the influence of implicit bias on real personnel decisions, and those studies have provided inconsistent and at best weak evidence that implicit bias has any impact on employment decisions.
So, why is this Ivy League class predicated on an outdated theory that has been criticized by numerous researchers in the last few years? Good question.
Nevertheless, eager students will learn to fight their “denial and unconscious bias” through a number of tactics in the class, including through writing personal reflections about their own biases and talking to their classmates about them.
While Professor Legatt declined to share a copy of the syllabus with PJ Media, she previously co-taught an online course dedicated to “Optimizing Diversity on Teams,” which taught business leaders “specific strategies to get buy-in for their diversity initiatives” and how to fight the “biases that can harm these efforts.”
During the course, Legatt identified a variety of ways that “hidden bias” can creep up in the workplace, such as “offering to help women when the help is not asked for” and giving women easier, “less-challenging,” work assignments.
Legatt also claimed that employees perpetuate “hidden bias” around issues like gender, race, and sexuality “all the time,” and thus, it’s important to address because it has consequences for employee retention and burnout.

Still no peer-reviewed, replicated research proving this link, though.
We've come a long way from trust falls and ropes courses.


  1. Definitely off topic; The word "advocate", at the time of the words addition to Webster's the founding fathers were vehemently opposed to it's addition.

    Benjamin Franklin may have been a great innovator in science and politics, but on the subject of advocate, he was against change. In 1789, he wrote a letter to his compatriot Noah Webster complaining about a "new word": the verb advocate. Like others of his day, Franklin knew advocate primarily as a noun meaning "one who pleads the cause of another," and he urged Webster to condemn the verb's use.

    What would Webster and Franklin have to say today. I am on Franklins side making the word a verb was a bad idea.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. To Noah Webster, On New-Fangled Modes of Writing and Printing
    By Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790)

    I CANNOT but applaud your zeal for preserving the purity of our language, both in its expressions and pronunciation, and in correcting the popular errors several of our States are continually falling into with respect to both. Give me leave to mention some of them, though possibly they may have already occurred to you. I wish, however, in some future publication of yours, you would set a discountenancing mark upon them. The first I remember is the word improved. When I left New England, in the year 1723, this word had never been used among us, as far as I know, but in the sense of ameliorated or made better, except once in a very old book of Dr. Mather’s, entitled Remarkable Providences. As that eminent man wrote a very obscure hand, I remember that when I read that word in his book, used instead of the word imployed, I conjectured it was an error of the printer, who had mistaken a too short l in the writing for an r, and a y with too short a tail for a v; whereby imployed was converted into improved. 1