Good Enough Mother:
Diversity Is NOT A Dirty Word!
If you have been following me on social media you know I have had an interesting go of it these last few days. I’ll give you a quick recap (though you can read it all here).
After the tragic shootings of two African American men by police and horrific attack on Dallas police by a lone gunman, I posted on my personal, Facebook page (not to be confused with private because we all know nothing online is private, don’t we?).
In response, I had a woman tell me that I could keep my son safe if I taught him to be respectful and not wave around gun.
Another woman told me that, “Black people scare me” a conclusion she had drawn based (in part) on her exposure to them on TV.
The final comment last week came from Mike McNamara, a LinkedIn connection and someone who, though not a friend, followed me on Facebook.
“I don’t think we share the same values, Rene” his message began. “Best we unwind where we have social media connections.”
Cool. But honestly my immediate thought was why are you telling me? Most people just DO it, without public fanfare. But okay.
I messaged back, telling him that I value diversity of opinion and thought, which I also get, not everyone does. To that comment, came his thinly-veiled insult.
“If you believe that, it’s cool. I had you pegged for more of a leader.”
Now think about that statement. On a professional website, Mr. McNamara thought nothing about questioning the leadership ability of someone he merely follows on social media. He never detailed what values we didn’t share; that part was left a mystery during the “unwinding process”, which involved him blocking me from seeing his social media.
I did a little research on Mr. McNamara and found out that, along with being a media coach he also works for Equifax Workforce Solutions. According to their website, Equifax Workforce Solutions, “provides services to HR, Payroll, and Tax departments at organizations of all sizes in all industries including the public sector.”
Equifax Workforce Solutions (formerly Talx) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Equifax, one of the largest credit reporting agencies in the country. It is in the Fortune 1000 (ranked 802) and is publicly traded. Equifax has offices or interests in 24 countries in North, South and Central America, Europe and Asia Pacific region.
Because Equifax is a global company with offices around the world, it’s fair to assume that people of various backgrounds, life experience, skin color, religion, sexual orientation, etc, work for them. And the employees of Equifax in those places will have to interact with people who are different from themselves if the company expects to be profitable.
Truly perplexed by this, I began tweeting Equifax. I heard nothing from them but Monday morning there was a flurry of traffic to my website, first from St. Louis (where Mr. McNamara is based) and then Atlanta with an IP address registered to Equifax.
About 30 minutes after the Equifax IP showed up on my site, I got this tweet from Mr. McNamara:
Of course I didn’t see it because Mr. McNamara still had me blocked. It wasn’t until my friend told me about it that he unblocked me so I could see it.
(Side note: wouldn’t a social media strategist understand that the person you tweet at must be unblocked in order to see? Yes. Yes they should).
Once unblocked I saw the tweet, which was retweeted 16 times (once by me) and liked 18 times, at least 8 of those, by people who only tweet part of the time in English.
Which now brings us to a critical part of this piece.
But was that really clear to me? No. What was painfully clear was here was a man who felt comfortable insulting me, even with his company title next to his name.
Perhaps more troubling, not so much for me but for his employer, is that they have a guy working for them, representing them, the global corporation, who has gone on record as saying he’s not interested in people who don’t have the same values as him.
So now I’m wracking my brain trying to figure out how Mr. McNamara gets hired in the first place. Was the person who hired him okay with his stance? Did they know he felt this way? Were they concerned about that given that they are a global company?
Now I’m wondering how diverse is the Equifax workforce and that of its subsidiaries? As a government contractor, Equifax has a responsibility to “…recruit and advance qualified minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and covered veterans. Affirmative actions include training programs, outreach efforts, and other positive steps. These procedures should be incorporated into the companys written personnel policies. Employers with written affirmative action programs must implement them, keep them on file and update them annually.”
Given that, I was curious; what does Equifax do to recruit minority talent? What do they do to keep them there?
I reached out to VP of Public Relations and Corporate Communications, Ines Gutzmer , asking for information on how diverse the Equifax workforce is and what that breakdown consisted of.
In response to your questions below, Equifax Inc. is proud to have a policy of equal employment opportunity and affirmative action. Equal employment opportunity is not only a legal and economic necessity, but also an extension of the Company’s earnest desire to fulfill our role as a responsible citizen in the community. Equifax takes affirmative action to implement equal employment opportunities for qualified employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex/gender (including pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, service in the Armed Forces, physical or mental disability, genetic information, citizenship status, national origin or any other category protected by federal, state or local law. This commitment includes, among many other things, efforts to ensure that we have a diverse slate of candidates for open positions by recruiting from a wide variety of online sources and job fairs, including those focused on candidates who are minorities, women, veterans, LGBT, workers over age 50, and/or individuals with disabilities.–Ines Gutzmer, V.P. Public Relations and Corporate Communications, Equifax Inc
So we know Equifax recruits through online sources and job fairs. I cannot report on the diversity of its workforce nor the breakdown as she did not provide that.
But back to Mr. McNamara. I could go into greater detail about the emails he sent to my friends, accusing me of courting friends with “extremist views”, how he warned them not to destroy any of their social media posts (again, odd coming from a social media strategist who should know those things are easily discoverable) and that his attorneys ,“Brian Behrens or his associate Andrew Williams of Carmody MacDonald in St Louis MO maybe be contacting you to discuss this matter. ”
But I will not.
Instead I am going to hope that there was a lesson learned and that growth will follow. Maybe it’s sensitivity training. Maybe it’s how to handle oneself on social media (i.e what not to put in print). Or maybe it’s just how to swallow, “uncharacteristic moments of rude” instead of typing them to people you don’t agree with.
I guess we’ll see.