Employees participated in a controversial anti-racism course, but the result was far from what they expected.
Mairem Del Río February 25, 2021 (entrepreneur.com)
One of the great challenges that brands face today is to implement inclusion policies and eradicate sexist, elitist and racist practices, both in their internal operation and in the image they project. For this reason, Coca-Cola believed it was convenient for its workers to participate in an anti-racism course to learn to be “less white”.
The seminar entitled ‘Facing Racism’ , given by Robin DiAngelo , was presented through LinkedIn Education publicly, although not free of charge. The company admitted that, in effect, it invited its workers to take the course, but they clarify that it was not mandatory.
Despite its good intentions, Coca-Cola now faces a reputational and image crisis. While the firm viewed the seminar as part of a diversity strategy, the approach to the training was highly controversial.
So was the ‘anti-racism’ training
The agenda was laid out by Dr. Karlyn Borysenko , an organizational psychologist working to end the racially divisive ideology of “critical race theory,” according to her Twitter profile.
The course description made it clear that its goal was to guide people to be “less white” , help them “understand what it means to be white” and “challenge what it means to be racist” .
However, on social networks they released some of the slides used in the seminar and the concepts presented left many speechless.
In one of the images you can read: “To be less white is: to be less oppressive, to be less arrogant, to be less trusting, to be less defensive, to be less ignorant, to be more humble, to listen, to believe. , break with apathy and break with white solidarity ” .
Another says that “in the United States and other Western nations, whites are socialized to feel that they are inherently superior because they are white .” And they finish with an invitation: “Try to be less white .”
The reactions were swift
Although the Coca-Cola initiative was applauded by many on social networks, others were upset and have even called for a boycott of the brand.
Internet users point out that Robin DiAngelo’s speech, instead of combating racism, attacks an entire group: people with fair skin. They argue that this approach attributes stereotyped characteristics and behaviors to ‘whites’ based on prejudices.
Based on the slides, Internet users interpret that the course teaches that being white is synonymous with being oppressive, arrogant, confident, defensive, ignorant, arrogant, apathetic and closed-minded. Even a Twitter user highlighted that in the content they “substituted racist for white” , attributing negative characteristics based on skin color.
For its part, Coca-Cola ensures that the material that circulates on social networks “is not a focus of the curriculum of our company,” according to statements collected by Chris Pandolfo of Blaze Public Relations.
“Our Better Together global learning curriculum is part of a plan to help build an inclusive workplace. It is made up of a series of short vignettes, each a few minutes long. The training includes access to LinkedIn Learning on a variety of topics, including diversity, equity, and inclusion. We will continue to refine this curriculum , ”the company added.
For now, the LinkedIn Education platform withdrew the course from its catalog, while the country music singer composed the song “We have to be less white” as a sarcasm, here is the video.