American Renaissance
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Claudia H. Deutsch, N. Y. Times, Aug. 24

Craig A. Young, an African-American human resources manager, says that in 22 years at Eastman Kodak he has never faced discrimination.

“My race has not kept my career and pay from progressing at the necessary speed,” he said. Kodak apparently disagreed; a few years ago, when the company was dispensing checks to African-American employees it decided it had wronged, Mr. Young received $4,000.

Contrast that with the experience of Gladys Alston. Ms. Alston, who worked for Kodak from 1991 to 2002, insists that, if she had been white, she would have progressed well beyond human resource associate, her last job. She filed a formal complaint; Kodak, she said, first offered her $4,992, then raised the offer to $8,268 when she retained a lawyer. She said she spurned that, too.

“Racism cost me hundreds of thousands,” she said, “and the measly amount they offered is just insulting.”

So, actually, what kind of place is Kodak for African-Americans? The place that, for three consecutive years, has made it onto Fortune magazine’s list of the top 50 companies for minorities? Or a place that consistently pays black employees less than their white colleagues and harasses them more?

The answer may lie somewhere in between. Talks with Kodak employees, managers and outsiders paint a picture of a company that is setting strong antidiscrimination policies, and trying to enforce them — but with varying degrees of success.

Top management “sits on the 19th floor and hasn’t a clue what people several levels down are doing,” said Cynthia Grayden, a black administrative assistant in Kodak’s health imaging division. “There are a lot more racists at Kodak than they realize.”

Whether that is true may be decided in court. On July 30, a group of past and current Kodak employees sued the company, accusing it of systematically discriminating against African-Americans. The suit was filed in Federal District Court in Rochester on behalf of 10 named plaintiffs — including Ms. Alston and Ms. Grayden — as well as Employees Committed to Justice, a group of about 200 others who meet monthly to compare notes about possible racism at Kodak.

Not all of Kodak’s African-American employees are unhappy. A few, in fact, suggest that their litigious colleagues may be ascribing racist overtones to ordinary workplace disputes.

“Some things that are deemed as racism, sexism or any other ‘ism’ may really just be personality clashes,” said Mr. Young, who recalls thinking one of his previous bosses was riding him because he was black — until he saw the man act equally mean to a white employee.

More importantly, he and others say, Kodak acts decisively when real racism occurs. Mr. Young noted that Kodak recently fired a shop-floor supervisor who was hurling racial slurs. Similarly, Charles C. Barrentine, an African-American vice president who has worked 32 years at Kodak, recalls telling management that a white subordinate called him “boy”; the man was immediately suspended. “I’ve seen hostile environments,” Mr. Barrentine said, “and this is not one of them.”

Still, even Kodak admits that it was, once. In 1999, the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People approached Kodak on behalf of a group of black employees who said they faced discrimination. The company investigated, and agreed.

Kodak dispensed $13 million in restitution checks and salary increases, and promoted many black employees. It assessed more than 800 people on their “ability to manage in a diverse environment,” said Robert L. Berman, Kodak’s director of human resources, and, he added, removed as many as 200 from supervisory or management roles.

Kodak also set up what it called an alternative dispute resolution panel, comprised of employees at all levels, to resolve complaints. “The discrepancies were ironed out,” Mr. Berman said, “and we ensured that they will never reappear.”

Citing pending litigation, Kodak has refused to make available data on the comparative pay and promotion rates of African-Americans, or to discuss specifically how the panel worked. But the Rev. Norvel Goff Sr., the pastor of Baber African Methodist Episcopal Church in Rochester and president of the local chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., said the company had righted past wrongs.

“We’ve had several hundred people whose complaints have been addressed by Eastman Kodak, and more were satisfied than dissatisfied with the outcome,” said Mr. Goff, a diversity adviser to Kodak whose church serves as host for Tuesday night meetings of many of Kodak’s African-American employees.

Essie L. Calhoun, Kodak’s chief diversity officer, did say that Kodak handed out at least $5 million to employees as a result of the panel’s findings, but she would not say how many of the awards went to African-Americans.

“We know that some employees weren’t satisfied with their awards,” she said, “but you can’t say that a process that gave money to more than 750 people was a failure.”

Nevertheless, that is exactly what some former panel members are saying. “We were told — and this is what bothers me most — that our recommendations would be binding,” said Maria Scott, an assembler who both sat on and appeared before the panel, and is a plaintiff in the suit. “The whole process was a sham. They ignored our recommendations, didn’t investigate complaints, offered small sums to people who hadn’t yet presented their case.”

If Kodak’s antidiscrimination efforts do still need sharpening, Kodak has brought out many strops.

It now has mandatory half-day courses at which supervisors and managers are taught what constitutes discriminatory behavior and harassment. It is insisting that all employees take an online course on the company’s equal opportunity policy. It has made it mandatory to report violations, even if they involve others. It has also instituted voluntary sensitivity training sessions.

It has disbanded the dispute resolution panel, and established an office of employee relations that has four full-time people to investigate employee complaints. It has instituted resolution support services, a new process that gives complainants a choice: they can ask that a “single adjudicator” from management resolve their dispute. Or, they can ask that their gripe be heard by a panel of peers, drawn from a group of Kodak employees who volunteered for special training. Whichever route is chosen, the findings are binding on management, but not on the employee.

Such efforts got high marks from Kodak’s external diversity council, a group of outsiders that Kodak deemed well versed in issues of discrimination, and that it asked in late 2001 to review its programs. It gave panelists access to data, and carte blanche to talk to employees.

The panel did not find a utopia. It said that Kodak needed to formalize its succession plans at all levels of the organization to ensure that “it is diversifying the ranks of people who control the levers,” in the words of Eric H. Holder Jr., a Washington lawyer who was deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton and who chaired the panel.

It noted that turnover among higher-ranked African-Americans and women seemed high, and told Kodak to make sure that those people did not feel they had hit a glass ceiling.

And it told Kodak to try harder to eliminate under-representation of minorities in professional and management jobs. “It’s not enough to say, ‘We looked but couldn’t find anyone qualified,’ “ said Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, president of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C., and a panel member.

The panel made its final report to Kodak’s board in December, and then disbanded. Many members came away impressed with what Kodak had done so far.

“No company has conquered all the issues about race, ethnicity or gender, but Kodak has moved high on the continuum,” Dr. Cole said.

Mr. Holder, in fact, came away suggesting that Kodak’s success in combating racism painted a target on its corporate chest.

“If you say diversity is important,” he said, “and you talk about your programs, you’re just inviting scrutiny from the plaintiff’s bar.”

Indeed, even some of the plaintiffs acknowledge that Kodak is no corporate version of the Ku Klux Klan.

Ms. Grayden said she decided to join the suit when she was told to train a white woman to fill a higher-level job that, she says, should have been hers. “We have the skills to move up, but they won’t give us the opportunity,” Ms. Grayden said.

But, she noted, her father worked at Kodak all his life, and never encountered discrimination. And she recently got a raise and promotion herself.

“My current boss is doing what he can, and is treating me right,” she said. “You can’t say that top management has a discriminatory policy, it’s just a few bad apples that make the company look bad.”

Original article

(Posted on August 26, 2004)

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Comments

Which film and camera companies are in opposition to the diversity dictatorship? I’d like to know because I’m may buy a camera and film. I want to select a company that hires by merit rather than race.

Posted by 45degreesnorth at 4:51 PM on August 26

45- Fuji. The Japenese have no fantasies about the irrelevance of race.

Posted by Billy H at 8:46 PM on August 26

“Which film and camera companies are in opposition to the diversity dictatorship?”

Try any Japanese company. They don’t believe anything as foolish as “DIEversity”.

Also, I think Kodak is pretty much on its way out. They have been struggling for years.

After a few years practicing DIEversity, all these companies eventually succumb.


Posted by sbuffalonative at 10:16 PM on August 26

Kodak’s foreign competitors (e.g., Fuji) must be amazed that the U.S. government would allow Affirmative Action to cripple its corporations. I think it was back in 1984 when Japan’s prime minister stated in a speech that blacks and Mestizos were weakening the U.S. economy. It must have been true, because all of the multiculties howled.

The Chinese and Japanese have the good sense to minimize immigration and maintain ethnic solidarity. Every day, the U.S. gets a little weaker, and China a little stronger. If this trend continues, Chinese domination is in our future. Do you think the Chinese would do any hand wringing over nuking a few U.S. cities? How about a little genocide? Me either.

Fascism is defined by nationalism, militarism and racism. Now that China has dropped the Communist facade, she’s a fascist nation. Why aren’t the Marxist multiculties complaining about this?

Posted by Mitchell J. at 12:02 AM on August 27

What is a company like Kodak to do in a case like this? They have obviously lost a ton of money on these diversity ‘programs’ and back-payouts, and on pure racial appeasement. Not only must the work atmosphere be totally poisoned by these never-content blacks, but things will only get worse once Asians catch on to this game and start their own shake-down games. It will then be totally impossible to run a company at that point and Kodak will not be the only one. Japan and China will meanwhile gain a competetative advatange by not being bogged down by these silly racial games.

The following boggles, truly boggles my mind:
For years we are told how ‘diversity’ is the best, the greatest, the closest we can get to Nirvana, and how much stronger it all makes us. We have to go to seminars, listen to corrupt politicians repeate the lie over and over, our children have to be bombarded by this every day in school. AND THEN… an economical study is released which reveals that the most succesful companies and countries in the 21st century will be those with homogeneous populations because they will avoid wasteful ethnic conflict. This is printed in a mainstream journal along with a number of other predictions/conclusions BUT no one ever discusses this fact, mentions it, or let alone act on it. How do our leaders live with these paradoxes is beyond me - I wish someone would explain it to me.

Posted by Tom at 1:49 PM on August 27

As to China threatening our future militarily, I wouldn’t worry. The Chinese and Japanese absolutely detest one another, and Japan (which probably has secret H-Bomb stockpiles) wouldn’t hestitate to wipe out China if the need arose.

Eventually, the second-tier countries of Europe and Japan and India are going to make a decision: Should we continue using English as our lingua-franca, or switch to Chinese? When the switch happens, then you’ll know the empire has fallen.

Posted by onetwothree at 5:28 PM on August 27

For years during my yearly mandatory Diversity sessions at my place of employment, outside guests would come in and always try to prove that Diversity is American’s strength. Each one of these outsiders was of course a foreign or American minority. When ever I would ask, “if Diversity is so important and such a strength, then why is our company and so many other US companies moving operations to those nations that do not practice or have Diversity?” This question was always answered with cold stares, anger, or ridicule. There was never an answer because there isn’t any answer. The statement about Diversity and strength is a lie.

Best wishes from the SRNJ.

Posted by the Socialist Republic of New Jersey at 4:12 PM on August 29

This is true. diversity is destroying American jobs. I myself cannot get in any of the big three auto makers because the lemming whites, negroes, and whatever else have it all wrapped up or erroded from all the years of ruining a good thing. I live near one of the big three facories and hear about all the wonderful things they do here is a ew examples. a. heavy drinking on the job. (there are bars conventely located across from every factory and if thats not enough 2-3 liquor stores) b. having a friend clock them in while they leave for hours on end to go do whatever they want. c. not performing thier job missing bolt patterns while talking to thioer buddies or reading a book (how ironic!). that is to name a few things. This is why the American automobile is woderfully designed car but poorly built. I am seriously thinking of buying a Japanese car. I used to be an Oldsmobile fan because of the time they took building each car. Now it is gone. Diversity has ruined Ameican goods. All are garbage. I prefer to have something made in China or some defunct Soviet state or something from the Soviet area. Thanks America and thanks to all the Government peoples that have made this country hell for the future. Diversity = NO FREEDOM. Diversity = oppression.

Posted by Anthony at 3:00 PM on September 1


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