Portland to spend $56K for diversity training for white male managers

Portland to spend $56K for diversity training for white male managers »Play Video

PORTLAND, Ore. - Portland is a city that promotes diversity. It even has an Office of Equity and Human rights.

It's no secret the last three elected mayors have been white men, including the guy in office now, Charlie Hales.

So, the city of Portland feels white male managers need some extra diversity training. They’ll be involved in a three-day seminar called White Men as Full Diversity Partners.

Hales spokesman, Dana Haynes, told KATU that the city does have some diversity issues. He said Hales wants to address the issue of white men and diversity and is willing to throw $56,000 of your money at the problem.

Why is the city doing it?

“A large number of the leadership in the city is made up of white men,” Haynes said, “and if we want to serve this community in all its wholeness and complexity, we can talk forever to the minorities and to the women, but we really need to talk to the leadership of the town; frankly, the leadership of the town looks like me.”

Bill Proudman founded and created the seminar.

“When white men ask about culture, they always think about everyone else or other groups having a culture,” he told KATU.

The city of Portland is sending as many as 16 white male managers to a diversity seminar in July. Four will be from the mayor’s office, including Hales, and 12 from the police bureau, including Chief Mike Reese.

“What typically white men learn is that they do have a culture and the culture has a bearing on how they see the world, their values and beliefs,” Proudman said.

The city already has an Office of Equity and Human Rights with a $1.2 million budget with a mission of promoting diversity.

Why can’t that office handle the training?

“This is very specific training,” Haynes said.

So how is Proudman’s training going to be better than the city’s?

“I think we’ll bring value to helping some of these white men gain insight into their role as leaders,” he said.

The mayor not only thinks this is a good way to spend your tax dollars but that the long-term benefits are vital.

“What if we spend this much money and we can better serve this growing and growingly complex community in all of its wholeness and complexity and all of a sudden we are better at it than we used to be and we grasp the entire community better? Is there a downside? I'm not seeing it,” said Haynes. “This might be the smartest dime we ever spent."

It’s costing the city money, but it’s also costing it time. Managers will miss three and a half days work to attend the seminar.

It’s a course Proudman has taught all over the country and he said it will teach attendees eight different skills which are: “Courage, integrating head and heart, listening, managing difficult conversations, leveraging ambiguity and turbulence, managing key paradox, being an agent of change,” he said.

Haynes said the course is no picnic. Is it required?

“Well, the mayor has invited all of these people. When the mayor invites you to do something, there’s a pretty good chance you are going to say yes,” Haynes said.

As you might expect, the White Men as Full Diversity Partners seminar is already raising eyebrows.

Haynes acknowledges that the mayor’s office is going hear from the public about the seminar, but he said he’s prepared for it. And he said people are already making fun of it.

“The worst scenario is that we don't get any better at serving our community and all of its wholeness, complexity. But what if we get a little bit better? What if we get a smidge better at this incredible complex town you and I live in? What if we get a lot better? – All right, let's hold our horses, we're not going to go for that – (But) what if we get a bit better? That's worth it!"

Either way, you paid for it.

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Send your story ideas directly to Steve Dunn at steved@katu.com.

List of those invited:

-- Mayor/Police Commissioner Charlie Hales   
-- Policy Dir. Josh Alpert   
-- Prog. Mgr. Chad Stover Coord. Special Events and Mayor's Black Male Achcievement Initiative
-- Chief Mike Reese Chief
-- AC Mike Crebs -- CHIEF'S OFFICE: DAYS (A)
-- AC Larry O'Dea -- CHIEF'S OFFICE: DAYS (A)
-- CMDR Mike Leloff -- NORTH: DAYS (H)
-- CMDR Robert Day -- CENTRAL: DAYS (F)
-- CAPT John Brooks -- ReGIN Project
-- CAPT Chris Davis -- North
-- CAPT Pat Walsh -- Tactical Operations Divison
-- LT Matt Wagenknect -- Acting Captain Central Precinct
-- LT John Scruggs -- Chiefs Office: Days