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"Diversity" in the translation industry
Auteur du fil: Gerard Barry

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnie-Herzegovine
Local time: 07:42
anglais vers croate
+ ...
Not sure. Oct 6, 2020

Robert Rietvelt wrote:

According to Gerard there are more women working in the translation sector then men. Is that a fact?

Just out of curiosity (and for the fun of it) I had a look at the number of active participants of this thread, and the result is that 9 of them are female and 14 are male!

I know that my little 'research' is not representative for the whole sector, but it makes you wonder.

[Edited at 2020-10-05 13:47 GMT]


Your "research" simply confirms men reacted more to this particular thread and engaged in the thread more. It doesn't tell me anything else.

@OP it sounds like you are ready to leave the in-house job and become a freelancer. Hint: then your work will be criticized and proofread by people you have never seen and have no idea who they are/what their name or qualifications are.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:42
Membre (2018)
français vers anglais
. Oct 6, 2020

Gerard Barry wrote:

2) Sexist remarks: I've often heard female colleagues make derogatory remarks about men in my presence. To give just one example: in my last job, a colleague made a disparaging reference to "man flu", after another colleague mentioned about her husband and son being sick. "Man flu" is clearly a sexist term. I also thought the remark was unfair because, in my experience, it's women who miss more time from work than men due to illness, and the obvious reasons of maternity leave, part-time work while their children are young, etc. Most men wouldn't dare make sexist remarks about women at work, for fear of being getting in trouble over it.

3) Company-wide "diversity" efforts: My company is literally obsessed with "diversity", which basically means they want a few white men as possible. Over time, this attitude hurts. I'm sitting there like an idiot surrounded by women and have to read these dumb emails from our "diversity" officer (or whatever Mickey Mouse titles they have) about the need for greater "diversity" in the company. As far as I'm concerned, it is only a person's qualification for the job/promotion in question that should matter, nothing else, and let the cookie crumble whatever way it does. Funnily enough, when they talk about diversity, it's always about sex, race, etc. and never about socio-economic background, personality, etc. This means that, regardless of ability, a women born with a silver spoon in her mouth (let's say the daughter of doctors, lawyers, CEOs or whatever) will have a greater chance at being hired/promoted in my company than a young man who comes from a less privileged background. This is obviously unfair.


2) First of all, the term "man flu" is mostly used as a joke.
If you deduct maternity-related issues - which obviously men don't benefit from but need to take 50% responsibility for - in France at least men cost the healthcare system more than women, because they get into more fights, and have more accidents, and those accidents are often more serious. Women may consult doctors more, and sooner, but that means treatment can start earlier and illness can be nipped in the bud rather than going all-out for costly treatment. Also women tend to live healthier lifestyles, they smoke less, drink less alcohol, eat less meat, eat more vegetables.

3) This has been bothering me. I keep telling myself, no he's not accusing women of being idiots, he's accusing himself of being an idiot, but still I resent the phrase "I'm sitting there like an idiot surrounded by women". In fact what is insulting here is that you see yourself as an idiot BECAUSE you are surrounded by women. Like, you're judged by the company you keep so the mere presence of these women (including a female manager judging from the other thread) makes you an idiot?

Diversity doesn't mean having as few white males as possible. Diversity means white males no longer enjoy the privilege of being hired and promoted simply on the strength of their skin colour and genitals, which has been the case throughout history. If you're worth your salt, you shouldn't be afraid of people of other colours, nationalities, genders or sexual orientation being considered on the same level as you.


Sheila Wilson
Chris S
Irene McClure
Becca Resnik
Sandra & Kenneth Grossman
Zibow Retailleau
Fatine777
 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Allemagne
Local time: 07:42
allemand vers anglais
Curious Oct 6, 2020

Gerard Barry wrote:

Recently I responded to one of the emails sent by our diversity gurus complaining that I thought it was wrong for the company to hire and promote on the basis of sex and race rather than merit. You know what her response was? She forwarded my email to HR, who then requested to talk with me. In other words, she squealed on me for having the temerity to question the company's ideology (and it really is an ideology) of "diversity". In large companies, it's not always easy to speak your mind.


Did you really write something along the lines of "rather than"? If your characterization of your e-mail is accurate, let me summarize: (1) You wrote an email to the person responsible for maintaining diversity and a welcoming workplace at your company. (2) In that email, you stated that the women and non-white people at your company are less competent than their actual white male colleagues and their virtual white male colleagues who would be there in their place if your company did not engage in unfair hiring and promotion policies. (3) While Dan refers to this as naive and I'm sure a lot of Germans would call it "blauäugig," the simplest and most direct description of the situation is that you wrote a sexist and racist email (women and non-whites are inferior and owe their success to pink and brown privilege) to the person at your company responsible for insuring that your workplace is free of sexism and racism and now you are claiming white-male victimhood because that person did their job, forwarded your email to HR and HR wanted to discuss your issues with you.

I don't see how you got to "diversity" being American, un-European and cancer-like, but I will accept that it is an ideology in the sense of a more or less unquestioned set of values and interpretive models and assumptions about the world. On the other hand, the supposition that you could provide people with completely different resources and experiences based on gender, race, etc. and then obtain fair results by ignoring that fact and "seeing how the cookie crumbles" is also an ideology. The same goes for the assertion that traditionally underprivileged categories of people somehow now genuinely enjoy more opportunities overall than traditionally privileged categories of people.

For me, the difference between these two ideologies is that (1) yours seems bizarrely disconnected from the reality of the world in which I live and (2) mine could actually contribute something to correcting the mess we've created and obtaining a significantly more meritocratic and egalitarian world in the present - and a massively more meritocratic and egalitarian world after several generations. Affirmative action and diversity are very imperfect ways to fix our mess and they create a number of perverse consequences and incentives, but it seems obvious that getting rid of them would be a much worse option.

Programmatic diversity is about meritocracy, even if it may be very rough around the edges - and I doubt either of us would be where we are today (among the privileged) if it were not for the diversity programs of the past, such as the notion of "whiteness," which would have seemed no less bizarre to Bismarck (with his Catholics, etc.) than to US Nativists (with their Irish, Italians, Slavs, etc.), or of "man" as a meaningful generic category unqualified by a series of social subcategories. I agree with you that social and economic class are a gigantic elephant in the room, but you still ought to be looking down the ladder of advantage to count your blessings and privileges instead of looking up and worrying about women born to wealthier and better-connected parents, who may enjoy more privilege than you.

I feel like our task to get over ourselves and to acknowledge all the advantages we have enjoyed instead of pining over the entitlements we've lost or are losing and to actually work toward creating a society more like what a normal, modern (post-1688/ post-1776/ post-1789) Western European ought to want.


Sheila Wilson
Chris S
Irene McClure
Becca Resnik
 

Tom in London
Royaume-Uni
Local time: 06:42
Membre (2008)
italien vers anglais
I think it was Lao Tzu who said.... Oct 6, 2020

"Men and women should work together like the sun and the moon".

Men and women should work side by side, for social progress. They fight when they have no vision, nothing that inspires them, and no life outside their own miserable petty personal interests.


Chris S
P.L.F.Persio
 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Allemagne
Local time: 07:42
Membre (2016)
anglais vers allemand
Misrepresentation Oct 6, 2020

Michael Wetzel wrote:
Gerard Barry wrote:
Recently I responded to one of the emails sent by our diversity gurus complaining that I thought it was wrong for the company to hire and promote on the basis of sex and race rather than merit. You know what her response was? She forwarded my email to HR, who then requested to talk with me. In other words, she squealed on me for having the temerity to question the company's ideology (and it really is an ideology) of "diversity". In large companies, it's not always easy to speak your mind.


Did you really write something along the lines of "rather than"? If your characterization of your e-mail is accurate, let me summarize: (1) You wrote an email to the person responsible for maintaining diversity and a welcoming workplace at your company. (2) In that email, you stated that the women and non-white people at your company are less competent than their actual white male colleagues and their virtual white male colleagues who would be there in their place if your company did not engage in unfair hiring and promotion policies. (3) While Dan refers to this as naive and I'm sure a lot of Germans would call it "blauäugig," the simplest and most direct description of the situation is that you wrote a sexist and racist email (women and non-whites are inferior and owe their success to pink and brown privilege) to the person at your company responsible for insuring that your workplace is free of sexism and racism and now you are claiming white-male victimhood because that person did their job, forwarded your email to HR and HR wanted to discuss your issues with you.


Michael, I believe you misrepresent what Gerard said. Let's have a closer look at the statement: "...it was wrong for the company to hire and promote on the basis of sex and race rather than merit". At no point it says that white males have more merit than others. What Gerard asks for is that hiring and promoting should be based on merit only, and that sex and race should be left out of the equation. That is the meaning of "rather than" here, and it is quite clear. What Gerard suggests in his statement is that hiring and promoting presently is based on sex and race and disregarding merit. I don't know if this is true, but this is what his complaint is about, and this is what the HR department should look into. Fair enough. I don't see that as racist and/or sexist and I think you should back down on that statement.


Gerard Barry
Mario Cerutti
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
Royaume-Uni
suédois vers anglais
+ ...
Disagree Oct 6, 2020

Kay-Viktor Stegemann wrote:
Michael, I believe you misrepresent what Gerard said. Let's have a closer look at the statement: "...it was wrong for the company to hire and promote on the basis of sex and race rather than merit". At no point it says that white males have more merit than others.


But what else can you get out of it? If the women above him haven't been promoted on merit, they must be inferior to at least some of the men at both their level and his level.

And let's not forget that this is someone who calls diversity a "cancer"...


Michael Wetzel
Becca Resnik
Sandra & Kenneth Grossman
P.L.F.Persio
 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Allemagne
Local time: 07:42
allemand vers anglais
Hm. Oct 6, 2020

I can accept that Gerard's very brief summary of the content of his email might be misleading.

On the other hand, I'm struggling with your interpretation of the situation:
What you're saying is that Gerard is just being helpful. He is well-informed about the situation and has objectively arrived at the conclusion that his company seems to be hiring and promoting women and non-whites who are less capable (possess less merit) than their white colleagues or fellow applicants.
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I can accept that Gerard's very brief summary of the content of his email might be misleading.

On the other hand, I'm struggling with your interpretation of the situation:
What you're saying is that Gerard is just being helpful. He is well-informed about the situation and has objectively arrived at the conclusion that his company seems to be hiring and promoting women and non-whites who are less capable (possess less merit) than their white colleagues or fellow applicants.
He has passed this knowledge on to the "diversity gurus," so that they can deal with this problem and put a halt to the prejudicial treatment of white men at his company. He has expressed it specifically to the gurus and specifically in confidence in order to avoid contributing to a negative workplace atmosphere where white men, white women and non-white men and women feel like their accomplishments are not being properly acknowledged, where they are not sufficiently respected by their peers and where white men additionally feel victimized. He is also aware that it would not be conducive to the quality of his workplace if his colleagues knew he thought some or many of them had their jobs due to preferential treatment based on their gender or race and did not actually deserve them.

That is a coherent interpretation, but I don't think it sounds very likely.

And I didn't say that Gerard is a sexist and racist. I don't know Gerard. What I know is that Gerard described a situation to us where he feels himself to be in the right and where I feel he is in the wrong.
What I said was that, if his summary of the situation was largely accurate, then he wrote what clearly seems to be a sexist and racist email that was appropriately responded to as such.
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Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Allemagne
Local time: 07:42
Membre (2016)
anglais vers allemand
Hm :) Oct 6, 2020

Michael Wetzel wrote:
On the other hand, I'm struggling with your interpretation of the situation: ...

This was not exactly my interpretation, but I give Gerard the benefit of the doubt and I say it might be so.

Michael Wetzel wrote:
And I didn't say that Gerard is a sexist and racist. I don't know Gerard. What I know is that Gerard described a situation to us where he feels himself to be in the right and where I feel he is in the wrong.
What I said was that, if his summary of the situation was largely accurate, then he wrote what clearly seems to be a sexist and racist email that was appropriately responded to as such.


I did not say you said that Gerard is a sexist and racist but when you say his email "clearly seems to be a sexist and racist" I believe you are framing it. And this is clearly a problem. It seems that anyone who wants to complain about being treated inappropriately has to tread very lightly, if the complainant happens to be a white male. Everything he says can be misinterpreted as being sexist and racist, and it seems to be extremely difficult to choose a wording that avoids this. I agree with you that Gerard communicates rather aggressively in some cases and that probably will cause more problems. But at the same time I believe that the labels "sexist" and "racist" are used here to kill the actual complaint.

Gerard, I think you should ask your HR what you can and should do if you want to advance your career in this company. The positive approach would be to use I-messages and avoid any blaming and framing of others. At the same time I still think that going freelance might be a viable alternative - which could also be done in cooperation with the present employer.


Mario Cerutti
 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Allemagne
Local time: 07:42
allemand vers anglais
I think we can agree on some of our disagreements. Oct 6, 2020

You give Gerard the benefit of the doubt (innocent until proven guilty), and I think he has given probable cause to speak to him and see what can be done about his feelings about his workplace and whether they are causing problems for him and his coworkers. I don't think he should be fired, reprimanded, etc. (assumption of guilt), but I do think the obvious first step is to see what is going on with him.
I obviously cannot know whether Gerard's objective claim is accurate or not, but once
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You give Gerard the benefit of the doubt (innocent until proven guilty), and I think he has given probable cause to speak to him and see what can be done about his feelings about his workplace and whether they are causing problems for him and his coworkers. I don't think he should be fired, reprimanded, etc. (assumption of guilt), but I do think the obvious first step is to see what is going on with him.
I obviously cannot know whether Gerard's objective claim is accurate or not, but once he makes that claim, I need to decide where the burden of proof lies: Is this more likely to be a subjective attitude of Gerard or an objective assessment of his colleagues? You're right that the actual complaint needs to be considered at some point and that accusations of sexism and racism can be weaponized to avoid valid criticism, but what are the odds that Gerard's complaint is an objective assessment based on sound information? At first glance, they seem pretty low.

I certainly also agree that there are all kinds of double standards at work and some of them do operate to the detriment of whites and men. You can see them in this discussion, and it is a struggle for me personally to not engage in behavior here that I know is hypocritical and objectionable. So, I'm not saying you're completely wrong. On the other hand, do you really want to tell me that white men have to be more careful about stepping on toes at major international corporations than women and non-whites?

I don't know how to add smileys, but I did note that you hadn't said that I said that Gerard was a racist and sexist shortly after I wrote that line. I apologize for deliberately(!) putting words in your mouth.

That said, I think that there is a giant difference between expressing racism and sexism in public (sending an email to someone about them at work) and holding or expressing racist or sexist views in private ("being" a racist). I don't care about private racism and sexism, because I think efforts to combat them directly are almost certain to provide solutions worse than the problems (thought police, etc.). And how am I supposed to know what's going on in someone's head? Gerard can tell his wife and his buddies at the corner bar whatever he wants. That's none of his employer's business. On the other hand, his behavior (expressed attitudes) at work are his employers' business.
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Kay-Viktor Stegemann
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Pays-Bas
Local time: 07:42
Membre (2006)
anglais vers afrikaans
+ ...
@Michael, @Gerhard Oct 6, 2020

Michael Wetzel wrote:
Let me summarize: (1) You wrote an email to the person responsible for maintaining diversity and a welcoming workplace at your company. (2) In that email, you [said some racist things]. (3) [That person] forwarded your email to HR and HR wanted to discuss your issues with you.


I feel the diversity official should perhaps not have forwarded the message to the HR department. A diversity official is kind of like an ombud, and there is an expectation of privacy and confidentiality on the part of workers. Not everyone who contacts the diversity official will be saying things that are agreeable, and the official should be aware of that and deal with it sensibly.

On the other hand, this is perhaps a lesson learnt: in a large company, only the opinion of the bosses matter. Workers' personal opinions belong outside the office or at home. And one can't really trust internal ombud procedures -- you're always risking your career if you complain, even if you're right.

Kay Denney wrote:
The term "man flu" is mostly used as a joke.


It is offensive nonetheless. On the other hand, I stand by my earlier opinion that not everyone who is racist or sexist are trying to be malicious. There is such a thing as racism or sexism out of ignorance, and of course people disagree about what exactly is racist or sexist. Often, one simply has to grow a thick skin -- especially if you work in an office or a large company.


Becca Resnik
Gerard Barry
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:42
Membre (2018)
français vers anglais
. Oct 6, 2020

Samuel Murray wrote:

Kay Denney wrote:
The term "man flu" is mostly used as a joke.


It is offensive nonetheless. On the other hand, I stand by my earlier opinion that not everyone who is racist or sexist are trying to be malicious. There is such a thing as racism or sexism out of ignorance, and of course people disagree about what exactly is racist or sexist. Often, one simply has to grow a thick skin -- especially if you work in an office or a large company.

Oh I agree entirely. Whenever I've protested about the sexist nature of men's jokes in the workplace, I've always been told exactly that, also to "lighten up".
And "man flu" is far less offensive than any of the jokes I've protested about, there's not even a shade of innuendo in there.


Becca Resnik
Michael Wetzel
Sheila Wilson
P.L.F.Persio
 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Allemagne
Local time: 07:42
allemand vers anglais
@Samuel Oct 6, 2020

I skipped over the issue of a violation of confidentiality and you're right that it's key. They needed to respond to him and deal with this with him first, because whatever else it is, this is about issues of diversity and attitudes surrounding them. That also makes the use of the word "squealed" more understandable.

However, I have a problem with seeing "only the opinion of the bosses matters" as the moral of the story. That kind of sort of sounds like what I said, but I think ther
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I skipped over the issue of a violation of confidentiality and you're right that it's key. They needed to respond to him and deal with this with him first, because whatever else it is, this is about issues of diversity and attitudes surrounding them. That also makes the use of the word "squealed" more understandable.

However, I have a problem with seeing "only the opinion of the bosses matters" as the moral of the story. That kind of sort of sounds like what I said, but I think there is a difference between getting yelled at by your supervisor for telling her they really ought to be using Wordfast when everyone knows she loves MemoQ and telling the diversity guys that your company has been hiring the wrong people because of reverse-sexism and reverse-racism. The result (getting yelled at or belittled) might be the same in both cases, so the advice might be perfectly adequate, but there might be something more to be learned here.
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Becca Resnik  Identity Verified
États-Unis
Local time: 01:42
Membre
allemand vers anglais
+ ...
. Oct 6, 2020

Michael Wetzel wrote:

I skipped over the issue of a violation of confidentiality and you're right that it's key. They needed to respond to him and deal with this with him first, because whatever else it is, this is about issues of diversity and attitudes surrounding them. That also makes the use of the word "squealed" more understandable.


This part of the situation is actually still a little unclear to me, and maybe Gerard can chime in to clarify. From the fact that you were able to decline the meeting HR requested, I took this to be not a formal complaint but rather an "I don't know what to say about this, so I'm forwarding it to HR to explain/deal with, because this mandate is coming from them" situation. Maybe she was even instructed to do so. The wording that she simply forwarded the email makes me think this, too. Did I misunderstand, and her email was a formal complaint that goes on your "record?"

If my assumption is right, and the response was HR reaching out to have a conversation, I still think the best way forward would have been to take them up on the meeting. I know it's hard, and I get that it goes against what the company is rooting for, but heck...you've already sent the email at that point. That would have been the opportunity to point out the perception that they are forcing out all white men. *If* it's really accurate that that's their goal, then they're probably not going to recognize the issue without someone bringing it up. As Samuel points out, people can be racist and sexist and not realize it. That's one of the main points in my previous post here...you have to bring it up if you want it to change, or they will never know, and you will suffer indefinitely. Unless you become a freelancer.

If my assumption is wrong and you were having a formal complaint filed against you, with no chance of keeping this off your "record," *and* it is the case that they have a target of 0% white men in the company, then what Lincoln pointed out is the case. Your company's culture is simply toxic, and that doesn't mean it's representative of the "industry" or whatever broad stroke we want to use.


Sheila Wilson
Michael Wetzel
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
Royaume-Uni
suédois vers anglais
+ ...
Survivor Oct 6, 2020

Becca Resnik wrote:
a target of 0% white men in the company

Reminds me of the time I auditioned for Destiny's Child. They told me my voice wasn't quite right for the group, but now you've got me wondering.


Becca Resnik
P.L.F.Persio
Zibow Retailleau
Kay Denney
 

Gerard Barry
Allemagne
Local time: 07:42
allemand vers anglais
AUTEUR DU FIL
Misrepresentation of what I said Oct 6, 2020

@Michael Wetzel: You wrote:

"In that email, you stated that the women and non-white people at your company are less competent than their actual white male colleagues and their virtual white male colleagues who would be there in their place if your company did not engage in unfair hiring and promotion policies."

This is NOT what I said in my email to the "diversity person" at work (I honestly can't remember her exact title). My exact words were: "Good to know that [compa
... See more
@Michael Wetzel: You wrote:

"In that email, you stated that the women and non-white people at your company are less competent than their actual white male colleagues and their virtual white male colleagues who would be there in their place if your company did not engage in unfair hiring and promotion policies."

This is NOT what I said in my email to the "diversity person" at work (I honestly can't remember her exact title). My exact words were: "Good to know that [company name] is no longer hiring on the basis of merit, but rather on immutable characteristics such as sex, race, etc.". You can interpret this statement whatever way you like but it is not the same as saying that the women and non-white people at my company are less competent than the white men.

Having said that, there is an obvious risk that, because of "diversity-based" hiring, less competent and/or less experienced women and non-white people COULD be hired and/or promoted on the basis of their sex and/or skin colour. After all, if a company has "diversity targets" to achieve and if they want to show how "progressive" they are, it's quite possible that - at least in come cases - they'll pay more attention to the sex and/or skin colour of the job applicant / candidate for promotion than to their qualifications and/or experience. If companies don't want to be accused of doing this, they might want to rethink their obsession with so-called "diversity".
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Mario Cerutti
 
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