By Howard Levitt

The first, from the Wall Street Journal, chronicled the fall of chief diversity officers, job listings for which plummeted 75 per cent in the United States in the past year. As the article noted: “… DEI jobs were put in the crosshairs after many companies started re-examining their executive ranks during the tech sector’s shake out last fall. DEI work has also become a political target.”
In tougher times, employers cannot afford lavish expenditures on social causes, and their shareholders are demanding they refocus on the bottom line rather than on ideological trysts. As for DEI as a political target, legislation such as Florida’s Stop Woke Act is increasing south of the border, finding tremendous mainstream popularity since people have simply had enough.
The second story provides a reason, closer to home, why DEI is finally encountering a massive backlash. Adeptly explained by the National Post’s Jamie Sarkonak, it involves Richard Bilkszto, a longtime school principal and a founder of the Toronto chapter of the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR), dedicated to civil rights and anti-discrimination. In other words, palpably not a racist.
A principal for 24 years, he was allegedly bullied and harassed at a Toronto District School Board (TDSB) DEI training session when he questioned trainer Kike Ojo-Thompson’s claim that Canada was even more racist than the U.S., based on his personal experience as a principal in a Buffalo school. Ojo-Thompson also said Canada was a “bastion of white supremacy and colonialism,” and that capitalism and the patriarchy are killing people. Really?
I might note that Ojo-Thompson has been hired by TDSB, Toronto-Dominion Bank, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Loblaw Cos. Ltd., Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and the federal government ($100,000 for just three courses) and hundreds of other Canadian companies to conduct her “anti-racist” EDI training.

Her message was too much for Bilkszto who, citing public health care and a more equal funding system for education: “To sit here and talk about facts and figures and then walk into the classroom tomorrow and say, ‘Canada is just as bad as the United States,’ I think we are doing an incredible disservice to our learners,” he said.

Ojo-Thompson reacted with what I would call vitriol: “We are here to talk about anti-Black racism, but you in your whiteness think that you can tell me what’s really going on for Black people?” She concluded the exchange by telling the class, “Your job in this work as white people is to believe” — not to question claims of racism (remember this was to a group of senior educators). She encouraged everyone to push back when they see others being “accosted by white supremacy.”

Nobody from TDSB interjected to stop its DEI trainer from berating a staff member. On the contrary, the day after, Bilkszto was reprimanded for his “male white privilege” and the “fallout” from the training. Instead of defending him, the TDSB berated him further. So much for the I (inclusion) in DEI.

It got worse.

In the next session, Ojo-Thompson continued to refer to Bilkszto’s comments as an example of “resistance” that upholds white supremacy, implicitly branding this longtime anti-racism activist as a racist.

Bilkszto fell into a depression and, despite his association asking the TDSB to investigate, it did nothing.

He applied for and won workers’ compensation benefits for being almost two months off work.

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) was so outraged by Ojo-Thompson’s conduct that it concluded: “I am satisfied that the conduct of the speaker … was abusive, egregious and vexatious, and rises to the level of workplace harassment and bullying.”

Citing Bilkszto’s evidence, which the TDSB did not dispute, the tribunal added: “The speaker (Ojo-Thompson) purposefully chose to address you publicly twice, on a week apart, calling you a white supremacist and resistor in front of two hundred colleagues and senior administrators. This conduct took place for over an hour, and noting that the speaker had sufficient opportunity to address you privately between those dates, it would suggest that the speaker did so with the intent to cause reputational damage and to ‘make an example’ of you. You were also referred to as a ‘problem’ that had to be dealt with.”