It isn’t often that I feel that my skills at cutting sarcasm aren’t up to the job, but this is one such situation. This letter has been sent directly to Intel at their “ask a company question” site. I encourage you to send your own.
I’ve included the offending ad in this post, but way down. If you read the beginning of the letter and decide you don’t want to see the image, just scroll down slowly and stop at the end of the letter.
Perhaps you find it comforting and rewarding to portray the contemporary workplace as indistinguishable from the plantations in the American South before the Civil War.
Perhaps you find it gratifying to show us six muscular dark-skinned men, naked to the waist, bowing their heads to a white man in a business shirt. Images of the slave markets where humans were bought and sold with less consideration than cattle got in those times are distressingly rare in the 21st century. Perhaps you believe that you are demonstrating courage and nerve when you 1) impress upon every wage-earner how terrible their lives are, and 2) fulfill the fantasies of managers that someday they may get the obedience (and obeisance) of slaves from their staff. Perhaps you are proud of accomplishing both of these things while also heaping coals of fire on the heads of every descendant of slaves who might see your advertisement.
I spent some time this afternoon on your website, and very easily found the moral justification for your advertising theme:
At Intel, corporate responsibility means doing what is right. Respecting people and the world around us. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s how we do business.
Again, perhaps it was your intent to respect the white man at the expense of the black men, the manager at the expense of the employees. What’s more, perhaps you are proud of giving a contemporary boost to the racist history and underpinnings of this nation.
The diversity of our employees is the ingredient for success that sets Intel apart. Our employees are located all over the world and represent a variety of different backgrounds, yet each person has one thing in commonÃ¢â‚¬â€a commitment to creating market-driving products and technology designed to make a difference.
The perspectives, abilities and experiences of our workforce are key to the success of our company and fundamental to our role as a technology leader. Through their innovative thoughts and actions, our employees, based in over 40 countries, have proven that it is possible to impact and change the way that people live and work around the world.
Perhaps the diversity of your employees is wider than the diversity of the slave-employees in your advertising, who appear to me as clones. While I confess I do not understand the value of the perspective of employees whose faces are all turned to the floor, I am confident that you were thinking of this corporate policy when you designed the advertisement.
Perhaps Intel is looking forward to a new era of chattel slavery, with white men owning the output and energy of black men. Or perhaps you just believe that the world is a better place when our microprocessors bow down to us as slaves.
In any event, I hope you are as proud of this advertisement and the message it sends about your products as you deserve.
*white, in a management position, and with some say in IT purchases
Very very wry thanks to epi_lj for the pointer.