Awarding Diversity

Awards are given to recognize work above and beyond the call of duty, beyond the usual. Right?

Royal Gold Crown

The Encarta Dictionary: English (North America) has as the first definition:
1. Something given for achievement – something such as a prize that is given in recognition of somebody’s merit or achievement.

Awards are given according to a set of criteria that define what a person has to have accomplished to get the award. Right?

Awards are given based on the strong recommendations of a select few (a nominating committee) or the general public (applications are filled out, reference letters are submitted). Right?

This, it terms out, is not always the case. Awards are given:

  • To gain publicity and stature for an organization.
  • To provide photo-ops especially if the awardees are prominent individuals or celebrities.
  • To reward and acknowledge clients of the awarding organization.
  • To feather the pockets of the host.
  • To get a donation.

And sometimes, believe it or not (I didn’t when I first encountered this), you can nominate your own self for an award (grammatical error intended).

Diversity recognition should not be given to people just because they hired qualified people. Except in rare cases, most diverse candidates who get jobs deserve jobs, have the background to get them. Very few companies/organizations are sticking their necks out on a limb to hire diverse people. After all, as many organizations lament, “they are so difficult to find.”

Diversity recognition should not be given for someone doing what they should do – hire qualified people. To be meaningful, diversity recognition should be given:

  • When a company has altered its hiring process to make sure that people of color, people with disabilities, and women are getting recruited, interviewed and hired.
  • When the internal culture of a company has been examined and altered to provide opportunities for upward mobility for diverse candidates.
  • When there have been actions that had measurable results in diversifying the upper management and board of directors.
  • And so on, and so on.

Short of this, most diversity recognition awards are fraudulent and disingenuous. Shame on those rent-a-blanks (your fill-in the blank) who crown people who don’t deserve the recognition.

The masterful singer/composer/lyricist Stevie Wonder sang about this on You Haven’t Done Nothing” from his Fufillingness: First Finale album.

We are amazed but not amused
By all the things you say that you’ll do
Though much concerned but not involved
With decisions that are made by you
But we are sick and tired of hearing your song
Telling how you are gonna change right from wrong
‘Cause if you really want to hear our views
You haven’t done nothin’

I’ll end with this message from rapper/actor Ice-T:

Don’t hate the player. Hate the game” *

If you liked this post, I’m happy.

*Don’t Hate the Playa” – Rap by Ice-T


About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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