Darrell "Coach D" Andrews Virtual Motivational Consultant, Strategist, Speaker and Coach! at Darrell Andrews Enterprises
Ok, Diversity is not a topic one would think should fall under the category of "Core-Values" but for many of the organizations I work with it is an issue that should fall under this category. The reason why I say this is because anything you value, you will make a priority. In essence, if Diversity is not something we value as a company or organization-it will not be a priority to us, hence we will not do anything about it. Companies and organizations who value this do more than lip service, they put dollars and energy into addressing it. To be honest, in today's world of videos and cameras on phones, I do not know how any company or organization can allow issues with race, color or creed to be ignored. I recently read an article highlighting one of the world's largest tech companies and issues they have with their black employees. I can just about guarantee that if this is not addressed, it will be a Maytag repairman scenario. You can pay a little to address this now, or you will pay a truckload once social media embraces it later. It is a personal choice.
Relating to the topic in the title-here is something many are not thinking about when it comes to diversity and inclusion. This may seem overly simplistic but here we go, Lack of diversity and inclusion, minority employees feeling left out, ethnicity not being considered in the big scheme-started long before the company started. The problem simply manifested when people of like minds come together in a corporate setting and establish organizational norms based upon their own life perceptions. In essence, diversity issues started long before a person started working for a company. It is a mindset that was established by the way people were raised and the societal norms that are a part of that upbringing. Corporate (Or organizational) settings are just another place to perpetuate what many have been used to all of their lives. Once they gather with like minded people in these settings-people begin to establish these norms in the workplace because it is natural and normal. Often, it is subliminal and pervasive. The problem however is people they normally would not associate with-they now have to associate with-but they do not know how to associate with them based upon diversity and inclusion, because my norms have been engrained in my mind for years! I remember sharing this with a group of educators during a staff development and one educator standing up in the middle of the meeting in tears. She said to me "Coach D, I look at my minority youth (Black and Hispanic) like they are all criminals! It is hard for me not to see them this way. I felt her pain for she was being sincere. I really felt this woman's heart. I asked her to tell me about the world she lives in. I asked, "how do the people around you feel about your kids of color?" She said, they are talked about negatively all the time! Before I could provide her with any advice she looked at me and said "I am putting an end to that starting today. I now realize I think this way because this is alway how I thought! None of my kids every did anything to denote criminal so they are not the problem, I am." All I can say in that moment was wow! I did tell her I was proud of her and she will now see her kids from a lens of potential-and that will take her teaching to the next level.
This teacher is not alone. I remember years ago working for a Fortune 500 company as a sales representative. We had one of our national sales meetings and 10 black sales reps (myself included) sat at the same table during a dinner gathering so we could catch up from our days of sales training. One of the senior executives (who was Caucasian) walked up to us and said: "It does not look good for all of you to sit together like that." I responded in a way that probably destroyed any chances of promotion, "There are 1500 people in this room, over 200 or so tables with my Caucasian colleagues sitting together, does it not look good for them to sit at the same table together?" Well, I know I blew promotion opportunities for his look said it all! Please keep in mind this article was written for awareness, to this day I have no disdain for that VP. I realize then and know for a fact now as a consultant-he was only operating in a paradigm that was normal to him based upon the frame he was used to operating in. My anger was not going to change that situation-awareness, company (organization) systems and knowledge are needed to do that! It will not go away by itself! This article is designed to help readers start to understand, this mindset is not only limiting-but it started long before the company or organization started. We often carry our biases to our place of work and if you get a lot of people working there with the same bias, it becomes a part of the culture. Until it becomes a part of the organizational culture to embrace diversity, inclusion, equity, etc as a non-negotiable part of the culture-this will continue to be the norm. The fact that people are hired to head departments to address this is evidence there is a norm embraced by businesses and organizations in this category. Kudos to companies and organizations who have hired someone, now it is necessary to use the department to shape the culture positively and productively for all employees. Again, mindset plays a major role in this and if the mindset is not altered in today's social media sensitive climate-organizations will pay for it. One employee deciding to allow their racial bias to impact a fellow employee or customer becomes the face of the company to the media.
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So, I am not going to give 3 points and a conclusion in this article but the information shared can become a talking point in your diversity and inclusion conversations. What is the underlying mindset as it relates to diversity in your largest employee group? What kind of conversations are taking place relating to minority populations as a whole? What does your organization value? Please keep in mind, healthy employee relations are critical to a healthy company or organization and the topic of diversity and inclusion is rising like cream to the top. Ignoring it or not taking it seriously is unhealthy and even with financial success, it can lead to an uninviting organizational culture and eventually, financial loss.
Nobody wants to work too long in a place like this. In particular, people who are on the receiving end of the bias. With a plan of action and leaders committed to change-it can be done.
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