From Black Voices — South Africa’s Dudu Tshabalala was the first black woman to make it to L’Oreal’s executive committee. She was climbing the corporate ladder quickly, making her way straight to the top. As a manager in the diversity group, she even represented the company at key events.
The once high flying executive now says that she is being ostracized for speaking up against racial injustice. She said that the company fudged the books by stating that they have 30 senior black “legislators,” when she claims that there are only four. Her court papers claim that the company is being “economical with the truth,” in their official reports.
Much of the target of Tshabalala’s disdain is Phillipe Raffray, the company’s Managing Director. He’s the one who is working to have Tshabalala removed from the company after declaring that the working situation was untenable. After Tshabalala made her claim that the company was fabricating the numbers deliberately, the total in the official report was reduced from 30 to four. She claims that Raffray admitted that if he had been a Labor Department Inspector, such a dramatic change would have justified an investigation. She also filed suit to get her job back.
Although Tshabalala’s case takes place in another country, this kind of behavior is all too common in corporations and other institutions around the world, including the United States. I’ve seen universities tell significant fibs about the numbers of minority faculty on campus, or try to manipulate the numbers in ways that put themselves in a favorable light. Here are some tricks I’ve seen played on college campuses (I won’t say which one):
1) To use the general term of “minority” to allow yourself to include anyone who is not white in your total. So, if you have a lot of Asians or Indians on campus, that is counted the same as underrepresented minorities.
2) To claim that it is impossible to keep track of the number of black professors on campus, although they can find a way to keep up with every other statistic imaginable. So, when someone asks for the data, they can almost legitimately claim that they don’t have it.
3) To focus on the number of black students you have, rather than the number of black professors, knowing full well that students are only here for four years, while faculty have real power and require a much greater investment.
4) Adding the numbers of visiting and adjunct professors to the total to make yourself look better (this tactic was used exhaustively by Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan to justify her disgraceful hiring record at The Harvard University Law School). In her discriminatory behavior, Kagan was simply maintaining a strong Harvard tradition of excluding black law professors from their campus (they just recently gave tenure to only the second black female law professor in their nearly 200 year history). Most faculty know, however, that being tenured vs. visiting a campus is like the difference between marrying someone and having sex with them for a year.
5) To include every black person you can find in your statistics, no matter where they are from. Therefore, any black person from Africa, Cuba or anywhere else is used to pad your total.