SPECIAL REPORT: The Authoritarian Roots of Corporate Diversity Training: Jane Elliott’s Captive Eyes and Minds

Diversity report coverPublished in July 2007, the report compares “diversity training” to thought control. Click here or on the cover to the right to download the 16-page pdf version.

“Diversity training” is a term that describes a brief, but intensive program of lectures, presentation of written and audio-visual materials, and perhaps most ominously, participation in role-playing exercises, all of which are intended to heighten employee awareness of potential sources of racial and ethnic conflict. The report argues that diversity training is counterproductive and instead results in weakened company morale and increased racial resentment.

Carl F. Horowitz, director of NLPC’s Organized Labor Accountability Project and the study’s author, observes:

Even in mild form, diversity training is manipulative and abusive, creating a double standard in which blacks and other nonwhite employees can criticize or complain about whites, but whites can never answer in their own defense.

That CEOs and other corporate officials not only wink at this practice, but aggressively promote it is little short of a national scandal.

The report is critical of current and recent CEOs, like PepsiCo’s Steven Reinemund and Chrysler’s Tom LaSorda, who have aggressively promoted what they call diversity. The key to challenging the current regime, Horowitz argues, is leadership by principled CEOs. He points to Cypress Semiconductor CEO T.J. Rodgers, who has brought a truly diverse workforce to his company while standing up to shakedown attempts by Jesse Jackson and other racial hustlers. 

The report details the history of diversity training, especially a sadistic role-playing exercises begun in 1968 by a white third-grade schoolteacher in rural Iowa named Jane Elliott. Today, Elliott is an institution. She’s personally led role-playing exercises at General Electric, ExxonMobil, AT&T, IBM and many other companies. In the process, she’s spawned an entire industry, in the U.S. and elsewhere.