Ethics Verdict: It Doesn’t Matter Whether Or Not Coke’s Diversity Training Specifically Tells Employees To “Try To Be Less White”—It’s Still Unethical.

Less white

Coke 1

One of the ways the news media and factcheckers confuse the public rather than enlightening them is their well-developed penchant for complicating an issue beyond comprehension so normal people just shrug and say, “I don’t have time for this: the sock drawer beckons.” This strategy allows all sorts of unethical conduct to fly under the radar. A recent example has been the controversy over Coca-Cola’s corporate diversity training, a current obsession of the rightish media which I admit that I skipped when I saw the first of the Powerpoint slides above. I saw it, and concluded that it could not possibly be part of an official major corporation’s diversity course despite what I was being told so I and any other woke-averse Americans would become livid. As it happens, I was right, but that misses the real issue.

The real issue is that with or without that slide and the equally racist one below it, Coca-Cola is forcing its employees to be subjected to view-point and ideology indoctrination as a condition of working there. Such attempted corporate brainwashing and mandated belief trainings are unethical, one of many oppressive and totalitarianism-supporting practices that have slithered out of the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck and The Great Stupid. The practice needs to be strongly and decisively opposed by anyone who believes in the core value of personal liberty. It doesn’t matter if Coke’s brainwashing literally tells employees that they should be “less white.” That it tries to tell employees how and what to think is bad enough.

The issue was brought to my attention by appropriately screen-named commenter Junkmailfolder, who pointed me to the Scopes “factcheck” of the carefully composed statement, “Coca-Cola’s diversity, equity, and inclusion training contained slides which read ‘Try to be less white.'” This is exactly the sort of obfuscation that I referred to. It’s a lawyer-style device, like the questions law students are trained to use in their appellate briefs. Such questions are phrased in terms that make the particular answers the advocate seeks unavoidable. Here’s the right question: Does Coke’s diversity training suggest that white employees are inherently biased, bigoted against minorities and need to be, as the ghostly and murderous Mr. Grady tells Jack Torrence in the Overlook Hotel’s Men’s Room, “corrected”? Yes.

Does the Coca-Cola training officially employ the slides above? No, but it still deliberately leads employees in its training to the video that includes those slides, which are only perilously unsubtle expressions of what the company’s official diversity training does attempt to drill into its employees heads.

Snopes has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is not the objective truth-seeker that it pretends to be, which is why I stopped reading it, using it, or trusting it. The organization has a partisan and ideological agenda, as shown by its choice of “facts” to check, and by its manner of manipulating its verdicts. The fact that its factchecks aren’t always wrong, deceptive, misleading or biased doesn’t mitigate this; it makes the problem worse. The intermittent fair and accurate posts suck in readers so Snopes can deceive them later. I suspect this is a deliberate strategy.

In this case, while denying that there is evidence that those racist slides above are in the official Coke diversity training course, Snopes buries this key information about 20 paragraphs into its article (which I refuse to link to, since the site is a blight on ethics):

We asked Coca-Cola to provide details of the company’s “diversity, equity and inclusion training.” A company spokesperson did not provide a comprehensive curriculum, but did provide Snopes several examples of topics included as required viewing. Each of the following items appears to match individual videos available through the LinkedIn Learning platform: 

It is on that platform, to which those links lead, that a user can “access” the racist course peddled by Robin DiAngelo, the author of “White Fragility.” Is that Coke’s intent? Maybe. Does it matter? No! It doesn’t matter what slides and jargon are used to demand that employees “fight racism” or anything else, good or bad, right or wrong. Such mandatory trainings are an abuse of power, and worse, an abuse of power in furtherance of ideological conformity. Citizens in a free country have a right to their beliefs and to think what they think. If they want other ideas to mull, it is their choice. All mandatory trainings that deal with belief systems and personal, private beliefs and conduct are sinister and anti-democratic by nature. All of them…and if their Powerpoint slides are not as obnoxious as the ones above, it doesn’t change what they are. Employers do not have the right to demand what religion you follow, what party you vote for, what charities you support, what teams you root for, who you like, what conduct you dislike, or anything else outside of the narrow range of what is expected of your comportment and performance in the workplace.

Coke’s employees and those of other corporations that have enlisted in a menacing campaign of cultural indoctrination need to be given the support and tools necessary to resist this dangerous trend. It is a breach of autonomy; it is an attack on freedom of thought; it is an attack on the core mission of this nation.

It is all unethical, and it has to be stopped.

27 thoughts on “Ethics Verdict: It Doesn’t Matter Whether Or Not Coke’s Diversity Training Specifically Tells Employees To “Try To Be Less White”—It’s Still Unethical.

    • I brought an RC Cola to class and was asked if it was because of what Coke was doing. I answered “No, it is because of what was on sale this week”.

  1. Think about these phrases:

    “Be less black.”

    i.e. Be less ignorant – not every problem you have is the white man’s fault, and no one owes you reparations for something nobody alive now did to someone else who’s long dead.

    “Be less Jewish.”

    i.e. Be less arrogant – you are not the chosen people and you don’t always get to push that you’re different. And PLEASE stop bringing up something that happened 75 years ago unless it actually happened to you. No, you CAN’T have that day off, and if you take it, you’ll be docked a day’s pay and considered a.w.o.l. Yom Kippur? I think I had one of those for breakfast in London, it didn’t agree with me.

    “Be less Muslim”

    i.e. Be less certain – All truth isn’t contained in one book that a pedophile bandit said a God no one else could see or hear dictated to him in a cave no one else visited. And PLEASE shut up about the Palestinians, there never was a nation of Palestine.

    “Be less gay”

    i.e. Be more humble – no one wants to hear your boasts about your impeccable style and wit. You are not a combination of Beau Brummel and Oscar Wilde. While we’re on the topic, lose that smarmy way of talking and take down that rainbow marker, no one needs to know how you have orgasms.

    “Be less female.”

    i.e. Be less defensive – not every criticism or correction is “mansplaining” and you are not six degrees of awesome just because you have 2 x chromosomes.

    “Be less autistic.”

    i.e. Listen – just stop being odd, choose to conform, not to be different, and try harder to fit in better.

    “Break with black solidarity”

    i.e. Stop telling slavery stories, tone down the celebrations of MLK (should really be called Victims of Adultery Day) and lose the daishikis and kufis. And wtf is this thing called Kwanzaa?

    Offensive? You bet. So why is it ok to tell white people to reread their history, they aren’t the heroes of every story? Why is it ok to tell white people to basically bow to everyone non-white, and that’s just a start? Why is it ok to tell them to just shut up, they’ve had the floor for far too long, it’s BIPOC people’s turn now, so step aside? Why is it ok to tell them your heroes are being written out of the narrative, and now they need to bow to a different set of heroes, none of whom look like them?


    • And PLEASE shut up about the Palestinians, there never was a nation of Palestine.

      I have often seen statements to this effect, and they have always struck me as intellectually dishonest, whether they are being peddled as such or whether they are sincerely believed and then passed on, because they are misdirecting away from some very serious considerations. It’s on a par with Metternich’s then accurate but irrelevant assertion that Italy was not a country but a geographical expression, like the equator (which Churchill later applied to India) Consider:-

      – In 1776, people could accurately and irrelevantly have asserted that there was no country or nation of “America” and never had been, just as the Genoese could have said of Corsica a few years earlier. The only difference in the cases is how things worked out for each.

      – Terms like “nation” are slippery and turn in the hand. There has never been a nation-state of Wales, not even before Wales was conquered as there were then two or more Welsh principalities, yet Shakespeare and Dylan Thomas could each have written of the Welsh nation in a meaningful way. The same could have been said of Algeria under French rule and Ireland under British rule – until they weren’t under such rule.

      The thing is,, it’s a circular argument to use the very lack of attaining the nation-state means to the deeper ends as a criterion for disqualifying any claim – any standing – to press claims to either the means or the ends. Now, the claims may well be unfounded or incorrect on quite other grounds, but they should no more be barred on those grounds from the Palestinians now than … drum roll … from the Jews in 1946. Palestine is as much a nation as Wales, based on shared connections, and probably more so than the artificially created state of the Lebanon and indeed many Latin American countries (Panama, I’m thinking of you – and the very fact that there is now indeed such a nation rather illustrates my point). And – contra some other assertions I’ve seen – the term “Palestine” is no invention of recent generations but one I’ve seen in early nineteenth century primary sources like Macaulay.

      So judge the case on its merits, reject it if you think fit, but let it be heard.

    • You do wonder. Why is a man with a white mother, who was raised by his white relatives and an Indonesian step-father, considered black? His African father and family never lived the ‘black experience’ in the US, nor did Barack Obama. Is it the ‘one drop rule’ racism, or is it affirmative action that he is regarded as black?

    • Teacher! Teacher! Let me answer! Let me answer!

      Barack Obama was not black because:

      He was arrogant

      He was always certain

      He certainly wasn’t humble, ever

      He never listened

      He sure as hell was apathetic. He could give a rat’s ass about most anything.

  2. This trend to indoctrinate and cow employees into submission is not really new. When I was working as a school psychologist and non psychologists took over our department, I remember being angry and bored as we as a captive audience were indoctrinated periodically regarding the value of multicultural education and racial sensitivity. Woe be him or her who rashly reminded the administrator that we were here to become better psychologists and learn about new regulations and procedures we were expected to follow.

    • My first (and only, come to think of it) experience with brain washing was during the “retreat” a couple of guitar mass Marist brothers staged with my senior high school class. One night, they kept us up late, past midnight, to wear us down and get us to accept what they were saying. I didn’t like what was going on and stood up and said, “It’s late. We’re tired. We need to get some sleep,” and walked out of the room. It evidently caused an uproar but they never called me on it and I never got any heat from anyone else on the faculty or administration. I’ve voted with my feet any number of times in my life.

  3. Karlyn Borysenko, the person Snopes cited as exposing this nastiness, did a reaction video to their “fact-check”. It’s even worse than you think:

    • Thanks for the link, Gamereg, and thanks for the additional information, Jack!

      The linked video is very helpful. Interestingly enough, I’ve seen this lady before but didn’t make the connection that she’s the one who “broke” this story.

      I officially don’t know what really happened. For those who didn’t watch Gamereg’s video, Borysenko says she has leaked internal emails that says this training is required. She also says that Coca Cola originally issued a press release admitting that these videos were part of its training and then released a subsequent press release denying it.

      I’ve used the LinkedIn Learning program professionally–it’s a large repository of videos/trainings that covers a hugely wide variety of subjects. In my experience, you can assign your employees certain videos, and I believe you can recommend to others as well, but anyone with a license can view any video they want to. There is no reason Coca Cola couldn’t have given every member a LinkedIn Learning membership and told them that certain trainings were required, and made that their company diversity training. It also could be possible that Coca Cola gave its members these licenses and asked them to watch whatever they wanted, and some employees found this (horrible, horrible) training and took it to mean that Coca Cola wanted them to watch this specific one.

      Coca Cola probably assigned these videos to its employees without viewing them. Or someone high up in Coca Cola’s HR department viewed them, liked the content, and assigned it to the employees. Does that then make it “REQUIRED?” I would say yes, but no one was grabbing people out of their desks and pushing them into a training room. Of course, that leaves enough ambiguity for someone to claim that this was a partial false story, as Snopes is so fond of doing.

  4. Be less white.
    Be less white.
    Thank God Almighty,
    you can be less white.

    Sounds so much better than being free at last, I guess.

    • Upon his retiring, my now late and very white American Lit professor wrote me: “Free at last, free at last. Praise God Almighty, I’m free at last!” That was over thirty years ago. Would probably get him thrown in P.C. jail these days. I think he genuinely considered it an efficient way to express is absolute glee at no longer having to grade papers and exams and prepare lectures. When is “Gone with the Wind” going to be gone with the wind? Is it already? I guess so.

  5. Anya Taylor-Joy won a Golden Globe for The Queens Gambit series on Netflix. Variety wrote how the Argentine is the first woman of color in some period of time and the 5th overall to win.

    Their update to their story says:

    “ UPDATED: This story has been updated. A previous version identified Anya Taylor-Joy as a person of color. She has said she identifies as a white Latina. “

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