Over the past few years, it’s become commonplace (and sometimes even required) for organizations to have a statement on diversity, equity, and inclusion. I strongly regret this trend. So when the ICF requested such a statement from CAM as part of our application to be approved as a Level 2 training program, my first thought was to ignore it.
My second thought was to write a bland statement that would go with the grain just enough to not ruffle too many feathers from the DEI crowd but also not stray too far from what we (and I, specifically) actually believe and practice.
My third thought was to be as honest as I could be while also being polite. I attempted this direction. Since you’re a reader of the CAM blog, and therefore an interested party, I thought I’d share the statement here.
Before I share, let me say two things.
First, the CAM community is incredibly diverse. While 99% of those we train are self-proclaimed Christians, there is still a wide variety represented among those we train and those we trust to do the training. From Anglican to Baptist to Catholic. And from Pentecostal to progressive to evangelical to fundamentalist. We have pretty much every tribe, tradition, and tendency within our movement. Some within the broader CAM community will not fully agree with the below statement. That’s okay. I would ask for no more tolerance from someone else than the degree of tolerance I and other CAM leaders exhibit when welcoming different perspectives into the fold. We don’t have to agree or even affirm, but I think we should be willing to work together despite differences. I disagree with the ICF’s stance and approach to these matters, yet I can tolerate the difference and I choose to continue working with them. I hope coaches and trainers will do the same if they disagree with our statement.
Second, my discomfort with the DEI movement stems from my commitment to my faith and my commitment to coaching as a way of living and approaching the world. I am what one might call an MLK Christian in that I believe deeply that all people are of high worth before their creator and should be treated with equal respect and love, regardless of race or other group identity and distinctions. Also, I have been drawn to coaching over the past 20+ years in no small part because of the philosophical underpinnings of the profession, namely, that each person is unique and has distinct knowledge, values, sins, and struggles that can only be drawn out and discovered. The best coach treats each person as a fresh, noble mystery to be served, not as a representative of some group that has intrinsic evil or intrinsic virtue. I fear the DEI movement is an idea pathogen that is distorting the ways we see other people, and I feel it my duty to say something. The philosophies and forces behind the DEI movement lead to Animal Farm, and I don’t want to wait for the pigs to be in charge before I say something. As quiet as my voice may be, I raise it now in opposition to this growing wave.
Here is our DEI statement, in full:
Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Statement for Coach Approach Ministries
Often in today’s world, organizations are asked to provide a statement on the organization’s approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion. To help potential coaching students, partners, and team members better understand the vision and values of Coach Approach Ministries, we have prepared such a statement.
Bottom line, neither diversity, nor equity, nor inclusion are of absolute value, therefore we do not seek or pursue any of these for their own sake. Nor do they serve as criteria for us in evaluating our organization or other organizations.
When diversity of convictions or characteristics occurs as the consequence of free persons exercising choice, we welcome it. When diversity of opinion, perspective, or ability is beneficial to the pursuit of our mission, we leverage it.
We welcome and tolerate anyone who wishes to participate in our training, and in this way, we are inclusive. However, we do not automatically affirm a person’s choices, beliefs, or self-perceptions, nor is it our place to do so. In fact, we train coaches to invite their clients to test, challenge, and sometimes consider changing deeply held beliefs, including those some may consider aspects of a person’s “identity.”
We strive to treat people fairly and equally, but we do not consider equity to be an inherent good per se – it is of neither intrinsic nor instrumental value. We hold that each person has equal dignity and worth before God. We do not hold that each person has equal ability, merit, or competence. We want trainers and staff who are good at what they do, no matter their immutable characteristics. We want to equip our students to be highly competent coaches, and we do our best to be totally inconsiderate of race, ethnicity, or sex when it comes to enrolling, training, or assessing those who trust us to train them to become coaches who merit the certifications we confer upon them. We do not assume that unequal outcomes (inequity) indicate an inequality of opportunity or a lack of justice.
We realize our stance on these matters contrasts with that of others who see the world through the lens of group identity, approach life from an oppressed/oppressor narrative, and who strive to tip the scales in favor of persons from groups deemed to be underrepresented or historically excluded. We do not believe old prejudices can be relieved through new prejudices. And we do not trust those who believe they are wise and just enough to know how to tip the scales fairly. If we are inadvertently tipping the scales (and since we are sinners, we are quite certain we are in ways unknown and unintentional), we seek God’s forgiveness and long for the day when our sanctification through Christ remedies us of bias and blind spots.
In sum, our sole loyalty is to God as revealed in Jesus Christ and in scripture. Out of this loyalty, we strive to serve God and to fulfill our calling to express and expand God’s kingdom through coaching.