SHARE THE MOMENT
The following three memos were each sent via company e-mail to about 1,000 people at an Eastman Kodak Co. division at the company's headquarters in Rochester, New York. The first and third are from supervisors at the Worldwide Capital & Process Reliability Organization and the second is from an employee of the division.
"Human Rights Campaign's Annual 'Coming Out Day' -- October 11.
"Issued by: Corporate Diversity
"Today, October 11, is the Human Rights Campaign's 15th annual National Coming Out Day for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered. If one of your employees elects to 'come-out' at work, there are several things you can do to help that person feel comfortable in sharing his/her orientation in the workplace:
"-- Be supportive of the individual who wishes to share this information.
"-- Acknowledge his/her courage to publicly share this personal information.
"-- Respect the individual's privacy. Understand how broadly he/she wishes the information to be shared.
"-- Acknowledge your level of awareness of this topic, and share your personal willingness to understand.
"What can supervisors do in the work environment to support their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered employees who wish to be 'out' to their supervisor or co-workers?
"-- Be sensitive to the employee's language in defining their personal orientation.
"-- Support the employee in displaying appropriate personal photos in the work setting.
"-- Recognize and respect that not all (gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered) employees find it ok to be out at work. They should not be questioned or harassed about their sexual orientation.
"-- Act quickly and responsibly if any anti-gay humor or negative comments are made in the workplace."
There was a footnote referenced from the last two suggestions. It reads:
"Keep in mind that such behaviors violate Kodak's Values as well as Kodak's Equal Opportunity Employment Policy, which all supervisors are responsible for maintaining in their areas. Specific examples are cited in your 'Call to Action' training materials. Reported violations of this policy are to be thoroughly investigated. If verified, disciplinary action is to be taken."
Then the memo continues:
"If you have any further questions or need help in assisting an employee in their 'coming out' process, please call the Diversity hotline ... or contact the Lambda Network."
The memo went out to about 1,000 Kodak workers. One of them, a 22-year veteran of the company, responded. He wrote back, broadcasting his note to all who received the original memo:
"Please do not send this type of information to me anymore, as I find it disgusting and offensive.
Not long after, another e-mail came to all of the workers, from the division manager.
"As you all know, our strategic thrust to build a Winning & Inclusive Culture drives us to behave in ways that value everyone regardless of differences. While I understand that we are all free to have our own personal beliefs, when we come to the Kodak workplace, our behaviors must align with the Kodak Values. I apologize for the e-mail sent to all of you from Rolf Szabo this morning. Rolf's comments are hurtful to our employees, friends, and family members who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. This behavior is not aligned with the Kodak Values and, therefore, is not acceptable."
Rolf Szabo, of course, was fired.
And the pucker factor at Kodak went up another notch. While the company rots from within as a photographic manufacturer, it sets new standards as an example of corporate political correctness run insanely amuck.
Intolerance masquerades as tolerance, bigotry dresses up as diversity and oppression wears the clothes of freedom. In the name of accepting a tiny few, vast majorities of others are not accepted, and the mainstream view is consistently fought and shamed. The views of the majority are under attack and Kodak is using its power to coerce workers to bow before the views of the minority. A company routinely getting its fanny kicked in the marketplace has turned the workplace into a laboratory of social engineering and political re-education.
It is a shame.
It is a shame that the American values depicted in Kodak advertisements have nothing to do with the Kodak Values forced on Kodak employees. It's interesting that a company that sells its high-priced film on a theme of mom and apple pie and flag waving actively fosters views and lifestyles that would be "disgusting and offensive" to a majority of its customers.
Kodak Values are clearly not American family, religious or cultural values, and one wonders what would happen to company sales if that fact were more broadly known.
- by Bob Lonsberry © 2002