Fair-minded folks the world over need to take a victory lap. After digging in for over 850 days, ASQ has finally issued a public statement against racism, formally declaring, “There is no place for hatred here.”
This comes only days after I tweeted ASQ’s Board Chair Austin Lin asking him if the George Floyd death and protests were finally enough to force ASQ to address racism. I followed that up with the June 3 op-ed you can read here.
On June 5th, Lin and ASQ issued their formal statement, which you can read in its entirety here (click to enlarge):
You have to realize what a struggle it was to get ASQ to take this move. Years ago, we uncovered huge troves of racist publications and sexist posts made by multiple ASQ members, including Senior Members, Fellows and even Section leaders. It wasn’t limited to just one bad actor, either, but the evidence kept coming in from multiple sources.
Oxebridge pushed ASQ to take action, and we demanded they update their Code of Ethics to address the problem. They pushed back, but eventually did just that. The new ASQ Code of Ethics included explicit statements prohibiting prejudice and discrimination, and promised action against any member who violated the Code.
But it was empty words, and ASQ quickly went back into hiding. When faced with formal complaints against members for violating the Code, ASQ’s “Ethics” chief, Scott Laman, refused to take action. Former Board Chair Eric Hayler went silent. When asked to reject white supremacists in the ASQ ranks, former CEO William Troy refused, and instead issued a statement welcoming members of all political stripes, essentially inviting racists to join.
ASQ, meanwhile, launched into vicious attacks against Oxebridge. Laman — who is white — angrily protested the use of editorial graphics published by us, worrying more about the reporting of racism than the actual racism. Former “ethics” expert and ASQ Fellow Paul Palmes tried to get ASQ to sue Oxebridge, and when that failed, he ran to Daryl Guberman and colluded with ASQ Secretary Jennifer Admussen to have me banned from all ASQ events. They had the support of ASQ members and senior TAG 176 leaders Alka Jarvis and Lorri Hunt, among others.
Then, ignoring that they had refused to invoke the Code of Ethics to purge racists in their ranks, Lin and the Board used the Code as a bludgeon to reject the nomination of Dan Burrows to the Board, in order to rig the election and get their own people in. (It’s not clear they even had an election, in fact, and merely handed the slots to rubber-stampers.)
All the while, we kept reporting on their antics. All the while, we ran the ASQ Racism Clock, counting the days that ASQ took to mull over making a statement against racism.
Finally, it’s here. 851 days later, after agonizing interactions, harassment, threats, litigation and a huge amount of money spent — ASQ has come to its senses.
This is huge. A massive victory. Every decent person should applaud.
As for Lin and his gang, it’s too soon to see if they deserve praise just yet, seeing that they openly resisted for so long. This could go nowhere. But at the very least, we can shut down the ASQ Racism Clock.
Now, it’s up to ASQ to put its money where its mouth is. Whether these are empty platitudes in the age of Black Liuves Matters and coming on the press driven from the George Floyd murder, or if this is a real push for change led by Lin and the Board,… we will see.
What ASQ can do next is go back and review those ethics complaints, and take action. The horrible things that were revealed haven’t gone away with time. Those are huge scars that still need to be healed. ASQ can take concrete steps to show it means what it says. If those members are still members in another year, we will know that Lin was faking at a time when all eyes were on him.
Fingers crossed he is better than that.
About Christopher Paris
Christopher Paris is the founder and VP Operations of Oxebridge. He has over 30 years' experience implementing ISO 9001 and AS9100 systems, and is a vocal advocate for the development and use of standards from the point of view of actual users. He is the author of Surviving ISO 9001 and Surviving AS9100. He reviews wines for the irreverent wine blog, Winepisser.