Silicon Valley techbros are asking "what about us white guys?" and want safe spaces away from all that horrible non-whiteness and vagina-having where they can finally feel included in America.
Paul Mann wants to create a safe space for white men.
Mann, a white man who has spent years in the education industry, has begun leading workshops in San Francisco that encourage people in his demographic to explore feelings about race and gender and think about how to better assist women and nonwhites in their workplaces.
Most diversity training is inclusive of all races and genders. But Stepping Up, Mann’s program that began in January, is unusual because the workshops are designed for white men and led by a white man.
It’s an approach that has inevitably stirred controversy. It’s not something that Starbucks, for example, will pursue when it closes its stores in Mayfor a half-day diversity training in the wake of the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia coffee shop. And creating a “safe space,” a stated goal of Stepping Up, is a concept traditionally associated with people who feel marginalized or victimized.
But Mann says some white men are afraid of saying the wrong thing or worry they’ll be put on the defensive — and Stepping Up allows them to express themselves openly and practice language without hurting anyone.
“All this attention has been paid to tech companies not having enough women and not being racially diverse,” Mann said. “It just seems obvious to me that we are ignoring the whole half of the equation, which is white people and men.”
Kim Scott, a former Google executive and author of the leadership book, “Radical Candor,” strongly disagrees with the approach, saying it’s important to learn from people with different backgrounds and perspectives.
“I am glad they care enough to discuss the issue,” Scott said. “I’m very sorry to hear that white men feel so fearful that they feel they have to have this conversation without inviting women and minorities to join.”
I have to say, if you feel the need to have a diversity workshop without any actual diversity in your diversity workshop, it's not a diversity workshop. Sure, asking white men to think about gender and race is definitely needed, but when your first criteria is "needing to limit the space for the discussion on diversity to white men" you're not just missing the point, you're butchering it.