HR! Inclusion doesn’t equal you.

Many of you probably missed what happened to one of your HR peers recently.  This HR peer was fired, and it was upheld in courts, for using their First Amendment Rights. This was a senior level HR executive at a public university.  Here’s the article: Federal appeals court upholds termination of anti-gay human resources administrator.  From reading the title, what is the picture that immediately came to your mind?  If you didn’t say over 60, white male – you’re a liar!  The administrator is Crystal Dixon, and she’s a black female. Here’s what she did:

“A federal appeals court on Monday upheld the University of Toledo’s decision to fire a high-level human resources administrator, who wrote a newspaper opinion column challenging the idea that LGBT people deserve the same civil rights protections as members of racial minority groups. 

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Court ruled that Crystal Dixon’s column “contradicted the very policies she was charged with creating, promoting, and enforcing, and cannot be excused as merely a statement of her own views as a private citizen.”

The court upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit.

Dixon, who had been the University’s interim Associate Vice President for Human Resources, wrote the essay published in the Toledo Free Press in April 2008 in which she took aim at LGBT people.

Dixon wrote that she was greatly offended that “those person who choose the homosexual lifestyle are ‘civil rights victims.'” adding that she “cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a black woman” because she is biologically and genetically such “as my creator intended.”

I’m not here to challenge Crystal’s views on the “homosexual lifestyle” – she clearly believes something, and it’s her God given right to believe what she wants.  I don’t agree with her – I think her thought process is ignorant and callous at best.

I’m here to challenge her being fired.

You see Inclusion works really well when you’re liberal, and you have your liberal ideas, and others have to listen to your ideas because we/organizations need to be “inclusive”.  But have a differing idea, a way more conservative idea, and somehow “being inclusive” doesn’t work for you.  I think Crystal’s ideas about the LGBT community are completely ridiculous.  But, if I’m, truly, being inclusive as an organization – I don’t fire her.  I work to help her become more educated and understanding of all people in our organization.  “But Tim! She’s in a senior level HR position – she should be the one that understands this!”  But she doesn’t.

Inclusion in 90% of organizations is broken.  It’s broken because those who ‘support’ inclusion – are the same folks who don’t allow inclusive thought to be a part of your organization.  We support the gay young male who wants to hang up a poster advertising the gay pride parade this weekend, but we chastise the old white man who wants to advertise his gun show this weekend.  That’s not inclusion, that’s bigotry in the opposite direction.  Neither one of those things is wrong, or right – it’s just two different ways of thinking.

Crystal was fired for: “contradicted the very policies she was charged with creating, promoting, and enforcing, and cannot be excused as merely a statement of her own views as a private citizen.”  The Diversity and Inclusion policy she was in charge of creating I assume meant she had to think the exact same way as everyone else in her organization. Is that what “Inclusion” means to you?

5 thoughts on “HR! Inclusion doesn’t equal you.

  1. This is a great, provocative topic for discussion.

    I disagree with your conclusion, no question in my mind that the University of Toledo and the judges got it right. This public broadcast of her (incorrect) personal opinion made it untenable for her to continue in a role where she is charged with supporting a constituency she has just cut off at the knees. Further, it demonstrates a clear lack of judgement and sound reasoning. IMHO, both are disqualifying.

    I write this from the perspective of: 1) an HR executive with 30 years of experience in P&G and IBM, 2) one of 40+ an Out Executives at IBM.

  2. Pingback: HR! Inclusion doesn't equal you. | The Tim Sackett Project | The Humans' Resource

  3. Sounds like she was fired not for expressing her opinion, but expressing the “wrong” opinion. If she had submitted a piece that agreed with the liberal administrations point of view she would still have her job. Liberals are all for free speech that agrees with their point of view but if you try and express a different side you will be shouted down, boycotted or in this case fired. Sad double standard.

  4. I will say as a higher educator and someone that has worked on 3 different campuses she wouldn’t have made it if allowed to stay on. Eventually the pressure and push from students would have just not made it possible for her position to be functional. Even though HR has little to do with the student body, they love to be passionate. Working on a college campus is quite the unique experience on so many levels and has the blessing and the curse of inclusivity shoved down every orifice you have. As a young higher education professional we were always taught to be mindful of our personal thoughts/beliefs. Not as a way shut us down, but to be respectful to our purpose and our students. Our mission is to help them grow, formulate thoughts and become accepting members of society. It was far more functional to remain neutral as administrators on a lot of issues so we can better challenge their thoughts. Long story short, yes I agree…if this weren’t a college campus coach her to being more open and inclusive instead of getting rid of her.

  5. Most employers can hire you/fire you for anything. Just recently, CEO dudes threatened to lay off workers who voted for Obama. While it’s your first amendment right to have some protected public speech, it’s not your first amendment right to have a job.

    But more importantly — she’s a public employee and they have a different employment contract. She’s tasked with upholding and guaranteeing an environment free from bigotry. And while it seems noninclusive to fire a woman for being noninclusive, it’s actually part of her job to keep her POV at home.

    So she was basically fired for not doing her job.

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