“Our clothing styles are totally inclusive.” “Our school’s demographics are so diverse.” “Our advertisements paint a much prettier picture than reality,” … wait. Spot the truth amongst lies.
The words / concepts of diversity and inclusion are added to every marketing pitch like sprinkles thrown haphazardly on cupcakes. And unfortunately, even the most well-meaning, “diverse” ads sometimes exploit those intended to be celebrated.
For example, Bitch Media dug into this topic in accordance with Nike’s creation of the Pro Hijab in late 2017. Aqdas Aftab wrote eloquently, “While this conception of hijab-wearing women as inherently oppressed should be resisted, it is also strange that Nike — a corporation that has historically exploited working people in the Global South — is now championing its diversity by launching a pro-Muslim product.”
And these occurrences are matched everyday by small-scale good intentions and well-meaning actions. Even Pacific University, which has made strides in making diversity one of its five main mission pillars, still struggles to live up to this high bar.
In an ethically sound move, Pacific created the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, spearheaded by Narce Rodriguez, a woman of color. However, looking at the university’s 2018 Common Data Set, Pacific maintains only 68 full and part time instructional faculty members of minority groups out of 514 total.
So, while the university isn’t just creating a façade of progressivism like some, this Pacific-based example shows just how difficult it is to be truly altruistic. And with that, I think it’s equally important to recognize the flipside of this issue; the after, caught in hypocrisy, hasty apology.
With the rise of “cancel culture,” in which a celebrity, brand, institution, etc. is both humbled and chastised for wrongdoings, our society at large has become fascinated with making amends as quickly as possible. Public relation teams scramble to come up with the perfect apology note, donations are made to a related charity and the central and systemic issue involved is completely avoided. The process of unlearning what was wrong or counterintuitive to an entity’s mission is skipped in favor of an “I’m sorry” to save face.
And that’s just the issue. Reaching true diversity / inclusion and understanding their place in our world shouldn’t be a fast and dirty process; it should be reasonably paced, full of listening to those traditionally silenced and ever-changing and growing — never quite complete.