Thursday, October 13, 2011

Anti-Catholic EEO Training Scenario Revised

Last week I wrote about an offensive Catholic stereotype used in our university system mandatory EEO training. The post, with a screen shot of the slide, received quite a bit of attention when Thomas Peters, American Papist at Catholic Vote.org wrote about it.

After noting the overwhelming response and shared outrage, I posted in the comments asking for time to do a little follow up on my end. I contacted our Human Resources Associate Director for Organizational Development (including mandatory training) who in turn contacted the main campus Human Resources Director of Talent Management/Training and Development.

Here is what I have learned.

I can now confirm that the EEO training program, including the scenario depicted, was written by our university system main campus human resources training department. According to the Director of Talent Management/Training and Development, the scenario used…“is based on an actual case that was reviewed by the EEO office during the past year.”

On a more positive note, I can also report that as a direct result of my complaint, the training department removed the offensive slide from the program, and after review, replaced it with an adjusted, rewritten scenario that no long includes the derogatory stereotype!

The slide now reads:
“Khalilah is of a different faith than Janice. They both know this about one another. One day, Khalilah loses her favorite ring. Janice offers to pray with Khalilah and Khalilah declines. Khalilah reminds Janice that she is of a different faith. Janice gets upset, tells Khalilah that she will never find her ring because of her lack of belief. Over the course of several weeks, Janice repeatedly stops at Khalilah’s desk to ask if she found her ring. Each time Khalilah indicated to Janice that she had not yet found her ring, Janice would smirk and offer to pray with her. As a new employee, Khalilah is scared to mention anything to her supervisor because she knows her supervisor is of the same belief as Janice.”
If you read this scenario without having seen the previous one, you would be less likely to find offense. By not identifying any one particular faith/belief, this is a great improvement from the original! Since the mandatory training runs from October 1 through December 1, the change took place relatively early in the process.

By speaking out, I brought it to their attention that the scenario, as written, was just wrong. My complaint was not only heard, but also acted upon quickly to find a resolution. Even though the first slide existed, demonstrating a possible prejudice, I choose to focus on the fact that my complaint effected positive change within the system.

Thank you to everyone who sent me supportive messages or posted comments expressing their own outrage. You provided me with the courage to politely speak out in defense of my faith and beliefs. My complaint reached the appropriate person and effected change on a university system level.

I’m just one person, but we are all defenders and an advocate for what is right. That includes treating people of other faiths with respect, as well as demanding it for ourselves in return. We need to continue to speak up when we see these things, support each other in our endeavors, and work to bring about a better awareness of anti-Catholic stereotyping.
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