To All the People Debating Who Has It Harder
I recently came across a post from a self proclaimed Asian male talking about how all white males have it easier than he does, and that he has to work x2 as hard as he is being constantly compared to against other Asian males who are top performers. AND he doesn't qualify for diversity. I personally don't doubt this is the case, and it is objectively unfair. I acknowledge that.
And then there was a comment from an individual coming from a virtually unknown 3rd world country that is extremely impoverished, who thinks he qualifies for being a diverse candidate as one of a tens of thousands to attend university from his city (I agree with him wholeheartedly).
So I wanted to use these two posts to make something clear to everyone on this site; diversity is a box companies will check to show that they care about Corporate Social Responsibility and are progressive, diverse, and open minded. They do not give a flying fuck about who they hire as long as they can tout cultivating a progressive, culturally collaborative environment. They are not looking for actual diversity!
So fucking accept this, acknowledge your own additional challenges, and move on. How do I say this as a straight white man (spoiler alert, I am a straight white man)? I say this because I face my own set of adversity, one that I cannot talk about in the office ever. I have two chronic illnesses (one is pretty severe, e.g. Epilepsy, M/S) as well as depression, and extreme anxiety. Yet, I will never bring up any of this to my workplace.
In fact, the box on job applications that I am supposed to check only hurts my chances of being hired. I know this because when checking that box I have been immediately dinged for positions I was grossly overqualified for. But wait, many companies have a requirement to hire a percentage of total staff living with a chronic illness or that qualify as disabled? Yes, companies do have these policies, but these mandates are met through the lowest guys on the totem pole (e.g. the cashier or shelf stocker at Walgreens/CVS). These policies hurt you tremendously if you are applying for top positions, as you are a huge liability. Let's say you come on as a VP of Corporate Development, and you approve acquisition of a shitty roll-up. Then when it comes time for your review, you mention on the day the approval was given, you had just been placed on a new medicine, and a side effect was that it impacted your decision making. Its not like the company can fire you without risking serious legal recourse, and now they are in a bad spot.
As I look to apply to MBA programs, I have been advised not to mention any of my current health issues in my applications. "No one wants a sick and weak person to go through their program" - Recent advice from a Stanford MBA grad who mentors people looking to go through the MBA process. But these are the challenges that make me unique. I have had to jump through additional hurtles since I was six years old, and have accepted that I could die on any given day. But yet it adds no value for the program, and with no disability quota for these elite institutions, they have zero incentive to admit me to their programs.
I theorize that no one would want me at their company, and promotional opportunities would be far less obtainable had certain elements of my identity become clear for all to see. Any time I make a mistake on a project or a live deal, I never blame it on my health conditions, regardless of how things unfold. There are so many people out there with medical health issues that are severe, that cannot or choose not to disclose them as it could put their career in jeopardy. When it comes time for company-wide layoffs, who is going first, the average healthy employee or the individual with multiple health issues that could potentially affect performance on everything he does.
I say this as a top performer. I have taken full accountability for every single mistake I have ever made since I had my first internship, despite keeping my health issues to myself. I see this as a means of survival, and am not complaining about it.
I also don't want to use this post as an opportunity to say look how hard I have it, quite the opposite really. Everyone is facing their own set of person challenges, and regardless of race / ethnicity / gender, if you want to succeed bad enough, you will. I know people who had cancer while working in IBD (who went on to beat cancer and have very successful careers). I have spoken with international folks who are alone in the US, with parents who died young and/or were never in the picture. So many people face tremendous challenges, yet still prevail.
Yes, racism is fucked, and yes certain races objectively have it harder recruiting for the most sought after positions or elite academic programs right now. But the world is slow to progress, and indisputable progress is being made. Please show me a statistic saying there are less African Americans or women working in senior positions of high finance now than there were in 2000. I am by no means saying the number is where it ought to be, just trying to speak toward general improvement here.
It is so frustrating to see all these people debating who has it hardest, when the reality is if you work hard enough and perform well, it will all be water under the bridge. Using your adversity as a crutch for underperforming is such a weak man's mentality, and its so common to see it everywhere now. Own your results.