Diversity Express | Online EducationWhen you are a minority, it’s not easy being hired by a diversity-focused company or attending a diversity-focused school. It is common to wonder if you were only hired for your race. It’s also common to wonder if your co-workers think you were hired for your skin color. Some folks, particularly those who feel disadvantaged by diversity initiatives, will even resent you for coming in the back door, so to speak. Needless to say, the shadow of diversity initiatives hangs over you. Take me, for instance. I was attracted to a well-known MBA program by diversity recruiters looking to boost the the school’s diversity rating. They were infamous for being low on women and minorities. My GMAT score was good but still sub-average for their program. So was my GPA. At the time, I didn’t have any managerial experience to speak of. When I sent them an email expressing my interest in their program, they pursued me vigorously. They took me to lunch. They let me apply without the required two years of work experience. They personally ushered my application through the admissions committee. To get the work experience, they were willing to introduce me to their very best corporate contacts. Once I started the program, I would be given generous scholarships to help with education costs. My interview was tantamount to a friendly chat with a close uncle. It goes without saying that I was wooed and agreed to attend their program. I was happy that I had been admitted to such a great program, but I wondered about the ease of the whole process. For my non-minority counterparts, on the other hand, the admissions experience was quite a different story. They had to focus on getting their GMAT scores and GPAs as high as possible. Some retook the test multiple times. Others were hounded about lack of work experience. The admissions committee and their secretaries dealt with them with an iron hand. They had to fight to get through the gatekeepers and talk to any administrative folks. No scholarships were promised nor help with finding work experience. Their interviews were intense grilling sessions. When they got accepted to the program, they felt they had accomplished something incredible. Naturally, when I started the program, I heard my fellow students’ admissions experiences and began to wonder about my worthiness to be in the same program with them. When I told them about my experience, their comments were always something like "Must be nice being a minority" or "That’s not right. It’s just because you’re brown." I had mixed feelings toward these comments. My inner Malcom X wanted to shout, "I deserve a free ride for the four hundred years of oppression my people went through." But then I remembered that I was Hawaiian-Japanese, and both cultures had never been subject to slavery. Part of me reasoned, "They’re probably right. I wouldn’t have gotten in if it weren’t for my skin color." These thoughts had me seriously debating my worthiness to be in the program. Still another part of me insisted, "No, your GMAT score was good enough, and your GPA was average. You deserve to be here as much as anybody else." I hoped that was so, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t. Not a good way to start a competitive program. For all of the good intentions behind diversity initiatives, manipulating groups, whether through affirmative action or changing diversity hiring policies, to become more integrated rarely has the intended results. Because it puts the spotlight on the candidate’s race or color, race is perceived as the deciding factor. This perception hurts the minority and those who are pushed aside by diversity initiatives, and it undermines the very goal of diversity. Instead of creating a happy family of different races working together, many improperly executed diversity initiatives generate harmful sibling rivalry. About the author Marcus Varner earned his BA in English from Brigham Young University with a Creative Writing emphasis. He is currently in his second year at BYU’s lauded MBA program studying Marketing. He blogs, writes fiction and screenplays, loves movies, and can’t resist playing superheroes with his kids.

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