Cartoon: Corporate Diversity Training

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This cartoon is, I think, pretty self-explanatory.  I don’t have much to say about this issue, to be honest; I read a couple of articles about it and thought “hmm, might be a cartoon there.” Then I thought of the ending and it made me giggle, which is enough to put a cartoon into my “to be drawn” folder.

The most fun here was panel three. I think this is at least the third time I’ve a what-the-camera-sees-versus-the-reality gag – they’re pretty irresistible, in a year when zoom has suddenly become a regular fixture of my life. It’s also the sort of gag that I know many readers won’t notice, but it’ll be fun for readers who pay more attention to the pictures.

I drew panel three gradually – I’d work a while on one of the other panels, then take a break and draw some more trash somewhere in panel 3, over and over until the panel seemed to have enough trash in it to work.  I told Frank “I’m so sorry, dude” when I sent it to him to color, but Frank said he loves coloring things like that. I love that Frank caught my Charlie Brown reference without me pointing it out to him and went along with it in his colors.

Something about the way this strip is written really reminds me of Doonesbury.  I’ve fallen out of the habit of reading it, but being the funniest comic strip with the most distinctive approach to writing for decades is quite an accomplishment, and I still admire Doonesbury a lot.


This cartoon has four panels, showing a zoom conversation between someone who looks like a successful middle aged executive (vest, tie, bald on top, drapery in the background) and someone who looks much younger, with a light yellow polo shirt and deferential body language. Behind him we can see a neat, uncluttered room with a plant on a bookcase and some sort of framed certificate or degree on the wall.


We are looking at a laptop, open; on the laptop’s screen, we see a zoom-style conversation with two people, who I’ll call the executive and yellowshirt. The executive is holding up a finger as he gives out an assignment, and looks demanding. Yellowshirt is holding up a hand as he tries to explain something.

EXECUTIVE: This company needs to say it’s done something to become more diverse.

YELLOWSHIRT: Sir, I’ve been reading the research on this.


A medium shot of Yellowshirt, now raising both palms as he warms to his subject.

YELLOWSHIRT: Quickie “diversity seminars” don’t help, and can even make things worse because of the resentment factor. We won’t become really diverse until we commit to changing how we recruit and mentor, starting from the top.


A long shot of Yellowshirt. We can now see that the room outside the view of his webcam is actually incredibly sloppy; there’s an open pizza box, a pile of laundry, a half eaten apple. a sock hanging off a bookshelf, an empty soda can on its side, and other sorts of junk. Yellowshirt, arms spread, is looking enthusiastic as he warms to the subject.

YELLOWSHIRT: It’ll take years of hard work. We’d have to change our company culture. But if we do it, we can make our company more diverse and more profitable.


Back to the split-screen showing both the executive and Yellowshirt. The executive is leaning forward, towards the camera, and is holding a flat hand out in a “cutting you off now” gesture. Yellowshirt is face-palming.

EXECUTIVE: Listen to my words. We need to say we’ve done something. To SAY it.

YELLOWSHIRT: I’ll schedule a diversity seminar right away, sir.

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7 Responses to Cartoon: Corporate Diversity Training

  1. 1
    Eva says:

    Nailed it. Again.

    It took me a minute but I found the Charlie Brown pattern. But I missed the reference. What was it?

    Thanks, as always, for a good laugh.


  2. 2
    annqueue says:

    ooh, diversity training, been there done that, back in the 90s. I got to refrain from disclosing that I was bi while defending LGBT people to the women who was assaulted by her gym teacher in her youth (and was thus convinced that queers are pedophiles). Fun fun. Afterwards I was treated to hearing myself be the subject of conversation of two women who didn’t realize I was in one of the stalls when they entered the restroom.

  3. 3
    Corso says:

    I saw the reference and I had a “is that a happy accident or did he actually mean to do that?” moment. I think you nailed this, there’s a real difference between performative and substantive activism.

  4. 4
    Ampersand says:

    By “reference,” do you mean the Charlie Brown pattern, or something else?

  5. 5
    RonF says:

    Hah! Speaking from my position as having been working for one or another large corporation for decades I can tell you there’s a lot of truth to this.

    I’ll believe that upper management is dedicated to actual diversity at the “C” level when the head of either marketing, finance or sales is female and the head of whatever HR is calling itself these days is male.

  6. 6
    RonF says:

    There was a Facebook discussion on corporate sexual harassment training among some people at my company. The discussion turned to how they tended to be more of a way for the company to cover it’s rear than anything else. In that spirit I posted the above. Do you need me to add any attribution or is what’s in the left border sufficient?

  7. 7
    Ampersand says:

    The left border is fine – that’s what it’s there for!

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