THE BLOG
06/22/2016 10:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Autism Without Fear: 'Is My Company's Diversity And Inclusion Strategy... Comical?'

Of course not. For starters, just by having a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) strategy, you're doing more good than harm.

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But I'd wager that if you're worried, then you know something's wrong with your firm's overall program. So maybe let's investigate?

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Does your strategy look like this?

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To be real? That's so 2004.

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Seriously. Actually? Take out "Veteran Status" and you're back in 1996.

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The difference is this... Your version is about compliance, and my list reflects different experiences. One is reactive, and the other, proactive. I'll bet your company loves metrics, right?

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Well, metrics are usually used to suggest to others that your company is diverse. A lot of the time, they're for show (and 99% of data can be manipulated anyway, so...). Metrics have value, but...

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Exactly (but don't get mad).

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Now, also of interest is that you have "religion" on your list -- but I don't have it on mine.

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Fair question. But no, I'm not. And yet I don't believe it should be a part of D&I.

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Well, the doctrines of most major religions put it in direct conflict with another D&I element, "Sexual Orientation."

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With all due respect? It's 2016. It's not complicated. It's bigotry.

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Any D&I strategy that tries to accommodate both, is unfortunately, doomed to fail because religion, and LGBTQ concerns, might forever be in conflict with one another (unless you're all Wiccan, of course).

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No. D&I is not about sweeping issues under a rug, and it's not about "tolerance," it's about respect.

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(Sarcastic tone) Thanks for listening.

Now, here's another question: Does your company encourage employees to be themselves in how they interact, or communicate?

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Well, outside of swear words, or sexually unwanted commentary, doesn't that feel restrictive?

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You all speak corporatespeak then, right?

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Of course you know Corporatespeak! It's your language! For instance, the English language phrase...

"Cleaned hotel rooms,"

translated into Corporatespeak, comes out as...

"Utilizing contemporary cleaning methods and products, successfully restored temporary residences of upper-management clients to their fullest potential of hygiene, sanitation, and appearance."

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But to be fair, the very notion of "professional behavior" is also in direct contrast with the behaviors that distinguish most non-apparent disabilities, like autism spectrum disorders.

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As opposed to "apparent" disabilities, yes.

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:-)

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Then have the guts to ask for help -- outside, not inside your company. Demand that your superiors put some real resources into resolving their antiquated, for-show D&I programs; don't seek help from consultants that just pat your back (and call you "leaders"); and don't allow your bosses to avoid these "elephants in the bathtub" we've been discussing, like the "religion vs. LGBTQ" dilemma.

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Kind of. Why?

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Gulp. You're right.

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I agree.

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You actually could argue that. But... why can't you just ask which choice makes the marginalized group in question feel more welcome? Or makes the company less prone to hypocrisy?

Look, I know this is hard. There's so much to consider. So let me ask another, smaller question: Does your Supplier Diversity Chief hire from vendors that are owned or run by all aspects of D&I?

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Sigh... Did you really just say that?

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-- Do you watch the news much?

(Shocked pause.)

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You corporate types are NOT very popular right n-

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Thought so.

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But the "reality" is that you care only about perception. Your CEO's proportionately ridiculous bonuses, and your D&I program's easily visible inadequacies prove that.

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Simple. I'm not a big Sigmund Freud fan (for starters, he slept with his patients), but he had one brilliant thing to say...

"If you want someone to change, then YOU have to change."

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Michael John Carley is the Founder of GRASP, a School & Business Consultant, and the author of "Asperger's From the Inside-Out" (Penguin/Perigee 2008), "Unemployed on the Autism Spectrum," (Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2016), "'Why Am I Afraid of Sex?' Building Sexual Confidence in the Autism Spectrum...and Beyond!" (late 2016), and "The Last Memoir of Asperger's Syndrome" (unsigned). In 2000, he and one of his two sons were diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Re-evaluated in 2014, he was diagnosed with ASD. More information can be found at www.michaeljohncarley.com