Last year, Lockheed Martin Corporation, the nation’s largest defense contractor, sent white male executives to a three-day diversity-training program aimed at deconstructing their “white male culture” and encouraging them to atone for their “white male privilege,” according to documents I have obtained.
The program, hosted on Zoom for a cohort of 13 Lockheed employees, was led by the diversity-consulting firm White Men As Full Diversity Partners, which specializes in helping white males “awaken together.” The Lockheed employees, all senior leaders in the company, included Aaron Huckaby, director of global supply chain operations; retired Air Force lieutenant colonel David Starr, director of the Hercules C-130 military transport program; retired Air Force lieutenant general Bruce Litchfield, vice president of sustainment operations; and Glenn Woods, vice president of production for the Air Force’s $1.7 trillion F-35 fighter jet program. (Lockheed Martin did not return request for comment.)
At the beginning of the program, the diversity trainers led a “free association” exercise, asking the Lockheed employees to list connotations for the term “white men.” The trainers wrote down “old,” “racist,” “privileged,” “anti-women,” “angry,” “Aryan Nation,” “KKK,” “Founding fathers,” “guns,” “guilty,” and “can’t jump.” According to the participants, these perceptions have led to “assumptions about white men and diversity,” with many employees believing that white men “don’t care about diversity,” “have a classical perspective on history and colonialism,” and “don’t want to give away our power.”
The White Men As Full Diversity Partners team—Jim Morris, Mark Havens, and Michael Welp—framed the purpose of the training session as providing a benefit for white men who embrace the diversity and inclusion philosophy. In response to a prompt about “what’s in it for white men,” the participants listed benefits such as: “I won’t get replaced by someone who is a better full diversity partner,” “[I will] improve the brand, image, reputation of white men,” and “I [will] have less nagging sense of guilt that I am the problem.”
In a set of related resources, White Men As Full Diversity Partners lays out its theory of privilege. The firm’s founders, Welp and Bill Proudman, have argued that white males must “work hard to understand” their “white privilege,” “male privilege,” and “heterosexual privilege,” which affords them unearned benefits. The firm’s training programs are designed to assist white men in discovering the “roots of white male culture.” That culture, according to Welp and Proudman, consists of traits—such as “rugged individualism,” “a can-do attitude,” “hard work,” “operating from principles,” and “striving towards success”—which are superficially positive but are “devastating” to women and minorities.
At the Lockheed training, following the baseline exercises, the trainers proceeded with the “hearts and minds” portion of the session: deconstructing employees’ “white male privilege” through a series of “privilege statements,” then working to rebuild their identities as “agent[s] of change.” The trainers provided the participants with a list of 156 “white privilege statements,” “male privilege statements,” and “heterosexual privilege statements” to read and discuss, including: “My culture teaches me to minimize the perspectives and powers of people of other races”; “I can commit acts of terrorism, violence or crime and not have it attributed to my race”; “My earning potential is 15-33% higher than a woman’s”; “My reproductive organs are not seen as the property of other men, the government, and/or even strangers because of my gender”; “I am not asked to think about why I am straight”; “I can have friendships with or work around children without being accused of recruiting or molesting them.”
Finally, in order to cement the idea that white male culture is “devastating” to racial minorities and women, the trainers had the Lockheed employees read a series of “I’m tired” statements from fictitious racial minorities and women. The statements included: “I’m tired of being Black”; “I’m tired of you making more money than me”; “I’m tired of people disparaging our campaigns (like Black Lives Matter)”; “I’m tired of Black boys/girls being murdered”; “I’m tired of people thinking they’re smarter and more qualified than me”; “I’m tired of hearing about how we need a wall at the southern borders but not on the northern borders”; “I’m tired of the desire or comment to remove race—the concept that we should be ‘colorblind.’”
This is not the first time White Men As Full Diversity Partners has been involved in a controversial training program. Last year, I reported on the company’s white male training program for employees at the Sandia National Laboratories, which began a series of reports leading to President Trump’s Executive Order 13950, banning racial stereotyping, scapegoating, and discrimination in federal diversity programs. The Trump ban, however, was temporary; President Biden rescinded the order on his first day in office.
Today, it’s back to business as usual. Consultants such as White Men As Full Diversity Partners peddle fashionable racial theories and attach themselves to bloated government contractors such as Lockheed Martin. Presidents change, but for now the woke-industrial complex has no term limit.
Photo by Jason Connolly/AFP via Getty Images