Cigna to employees: Make sure to check your "religious privilege" -- and tell us your sexual orientation

Is religion an immutable characteristic? According to this stunning report from the Washington Examiner on Friday, “religious privilege” is one of several issues of extreme importance to Cigna in its “anti-racism” initiatives. The insurer has adopted critical race theory wholesale, and has begun to enforce a diversity program on its basis.

That includes proscriptions against hiring white males, a point which might put Cigna in danger of legal liability for discriminatory conduct:

Employees at one of the nation’s largest health insurance providers are routinely subjected to far-left critical race theory lessons and asked not to consider white men in hiring decisions, according to leaked documents and chat logs obtained by the Washington Examiner.

Those who work at Cigna told the Washington Examiner that they are expected to undergo sensitivity training they consider racist and discriminatory. Lessons include reviews of concepts such as ” white privilege,” “gender privilege,” and something called “religious privilege,” which is described as “a set of advantages that benefits believers of a certain religion but not people who practice other religions or no religions at all.”

That’s not just a casual aside, either. According to the employees who spoke with the Examiner, the company includes the kind of Cultural Revolution-ish forced confessions of identity, which includes religion and sexual orientation:

Microaggressions listed include questions such as “Do you even know what Facebook is?” and “Are you a nurse?” Employees are also asked to go through a “Societal Norms checklist” and tick off boxes if they are “White,” “Christian,” or “Heterosexual.”

Er, what? Since when do employers get to demand that employees disclose their religious affiliation and sexual orientation? Asking those questions in interviews is a good way to transfer a good chunk of wealth to applicants, usually at the expense of the hiring manager. As someone who worked in middle management in corporate life for quite a while, you’d better believe we were repeatedly warned about even discussing personal issues like religion, orientation, marital status, and so on in the workplace, lest we violate any number of equal-opportunity regulations. This is Corporate Legal’s worst HR nightmare on steroids, or should be.

Power Line’s John Hinderaker marvels at the chutzpah and wonders when the lawsuits will begin. He worries, however, about the impunity Cigna appears to have in pushing these forced-confession practices on their employees:

It has been shown, I believe, that during the Jim Crow era, racial discrimination was most acute in government and in less-competitive industries like regulated utilities. Absent other imperatives, competitive pressures lead companies to hire and promote the best people they can. They do this not out of altruism, but in self-defense. Chalk it up as one of many benefits of free enterprise.

If Cigna feels free to discriminate against whites, especially white men, it means one of two things: either it does not see itself as functioning in a competitive environment, perhaps because its nominal competitors can be trusted to do the same thing, or it thinks that going “woke” will curry enough favor with government, and perhaps others, to outweigh the inefficiency of hiring and promoting less-qualified employees. Either alternative is depressing.

By the way, this comes complete with the usual hyperbolic prohibitions on phrases of speech, most of which are completely innocuous:

Some of these terms have been HR-discouraged in the corporate world for a while, especially phrases like “lovely lady,” which might get a sexual-harassment complaint. Likewise, terms like “man-hours” and “blacklist” have fallen out of favor for fairly obvious reasons, even though they aren’t in and of themselves offensive. An objection to “off the reservation” isn’t irrational either. The rest of these phrases, however, would only offend the most outrageously sensitive members of the workforce, ie, the kind of employees who want to cause trouble and just want excuses to stir the pot. What exactly is offensive and non-inclusive about “Hip hip hooray” or “Long time no see”?

Who has time to put this stuff together, anyway? Shouldn’t Cigna’s stockholders ask about that?

At some level, one has to wonder what Cigna’s actual purpose is. Is it to insure people, or is it a social-action advocacy firm? None of this relates to Cigna’s business functions, and to the extent it addresses internal and external human relations, it exacerbates conflict rather than mitigates it. Whose business is it of anyone else’s in Cigna whether a particular employee is a “CIS-Male” or a Christian, or identifies as “upper class”? Why are “societal norms” even an issue in an insurance company, other than as a way to intrude on the private lives of employees?

Let the lawsuits begin. Soon.