One danger of hiring Diversity Officers that has hitherto been ignored is the way their customary posture-and-lament routine places their employers at serious legal risk due to the way their rhetorical posturing will be interpreted as damning legal evidence of structural bias within the organization.
The civil lawsuit filed by former Dolphins coach Brian Flores includes this damning quote at paragraph 7 from Troy Vincent, the NFL’s longtime executive V.P. of football operations: “There is a double standard, and we’ve seen that . . . And you talk about the appetite for what’s acceptable. Let’s just go back to . . . Coach [Tony] Dungy was let go in Tampa Bay after a winning season. . . Coach [Steve] Wilks, just a few years prior, was let go after one year . . . Coach [Jim] Caldwell was fired after a winning season in Detroit . . . It is part of the larger challenges that we have. But when you just look over time, it’s over-indexing for men of color. These men have been fired after a winning season. How do you explain that? There is a double standard. I don’t think that that is something that we should shy away from. But that is all part of some of the things that we need to fix in the system. We want to hold everyone to why does one, let’s say, get the benefit of the doubt to be able to build or take bumps and bruises in this process of getting a franchise turned around when others are not afforded that latitude? . . . [W]e’ve seen that in history at the [professional] level.”
Paragraph 8 attributes this quote to NFL senior V.P. and chief diversity & inclusion officer Jonathan Beane: “Any criticism we get for lack of representation at the GM and head coach positions, we deserve. We see that we’re not where we want to be. We have to do much better. We’re focusing on all roles at the league, and all these roles are key roles . . . But certainly at the top of the house, general manager and head coach, that’s the responsibility of the NFL to make sure that we are representing our current fan base and we’re representing those that are in the league today. And if you look at it right now, we’re grossly underrepresented.”
Shed no tears for the NFL. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving organization; the NFL absolutely deserves to suffer for its embrace of its own convergence. But it is a salient lesson in the foolishness of permitting activists inside one’s organization, and the intrinsic danger of permitting even seemingly harmless token gestures in the direction of diversity, inclusion, and equality.