As CEO of DATABASICS, I’m responsible for making sure we comply with all laws regarding discrimination. Beyond that, I’m responsible for us getting along, finding the best possible people to join us, and staying focused on doing what our clients expect of us. There’s no room at DATABASICS for stereotypes or demeaning speech or behavior. We respect ourselves, our customers, and our suppliers as individuals. We make no assumptions about others except on the basis of their words and actions.
Maintaining an environment that looks only at the individual is difficult. Resisting the tendency to “fill in the blanks” about a person we don’t know well is hard. We assign the person to a group based on what we do know, then define them in terms of that group’s characteristics. Of course, our criteria for grouping the person are superficial, and the characteristics we associate with the group are generally grossly overdrawn, if not total nonsense. Still, it’s what we do when we’re not paying attention. That’s why we must always be on our guard. An individual-affirming workplace requires constant upkeep. We are committed to this not just because it’s the law and good business, but because it is right.
What is true for a business is also true for our country. We have to resist labelling people with vicious, dehumanizing, and bogus assumptions. There’s a name for this: bigotry. Bigotry displaces the hostility from those you can’t confront to those you can. It’s a kind of bullying. It thrives on the relative powerlessness of the victim.
We have allowed bigotry in this country to surge on our watch. We must push it back now to conserve what many value most about our country: respect for the individual and their capacity to choose how they live their life. Narrowing the concern to ourselves, bigotry doesn’t respect boundaries. Just because you are not the target today doesn’t mean you won’t be the target tomorrow. Discrimination against a religion, for example, devolves into discrimination against the ethnicities or nationalities by whom the religion is widely practiced. Discrimination against an ethnicity will sweep in those who share that ethnicity’s “typical” appearance. Very quickly, bigotry can engulf everyone in its ugliness.
Reducing individuality to group identification is fundamentally dangerous. I do not believe my contribution to society or my personal worth can be measured based on my religion, country, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or skin color. We all share a common humanity. We are all entitled morally and by our Constitution to equal rights, respect and opportunities. This is what we must affirm and defend not just politically, but in our daily interactions and in our hearts.
Alan Tyson, CEO