After reading an Engadget article on Tesla’s recent struggles with diversity, I couldn’t help but write a response of sorts of my own. Well maybe not a response per say, but more of a question that we must all ask ourselves.
That question is this: “What is gender discrimination?”
Now I understand that we all know what gender discrimination is to a certain extent, but I don’t believe most people truly understand what it means, or what it looks like (outside of the person being discriminated against that is). As a proponent of diversity, challengers often times use the example of fairness. “You shouldn’t hire or promote someone based on race or gender, but on talent and merit.” To this I say, I have never found a supporter of diversity who disagrees with this sentiment, but I do believe that a much bigger point is missed. Hiring or promoting a person is not as simple as a selecting the best talent in a draft. Sports and corporate talent are not one-to-one comparisons. There is no per game average you can look to when deciding these things. Decisions often times come down to relationships and “trust” which often times means “who do I know and who do I like”.
Despite the “fairness” ploy, employee hiring and promotions often times have little to do with either. But when issues are brought up highlighting this, a corporation has two choices. Deny or Admit wrong doing. In the case of Tesla, they’ve done their best to reassure the public that recent culture allegations are not true. For those unfamiliar, “When former Tesla employee AJ Vandermeyden sued the company for ignoring complaints of discrimination and “pervasive harassment,” the self-driving vehicle maker downplayed her claims. Tesla told The Guardian at the time that it believes in “fostering an inclusive workplace” and that there is “more we can do to promote diversity.”
But according to Guardian sources, things may be different. The company held a diversity panel for women (including six male employees and one female),where in “more than 20 women used the opportunity to share stories of sexual harassment, mistreatment and unfair promotion decisions.” Tesla says that both positive and negative comments where shared and follow up is being done, but until results are given, questions must be raised.
Unfortunately for Tesla, due to the climate of…well…everything, they will not be given the benefit of the doubt. Regardless, many more questions must be asked about the current climate and the issues women face in Tech in general. This article won’t solve anything but hopefully it can present thought provoking situations that will one day lead to answers.