Racism, Bias, Hatred, Divisiveness – Sadly Never a Surprise, Yet Somehow Still Shocking
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If you know me, you know I tend to avoid political discussions and commentary. As a result, some of the people closest to me don’t know whether I am a Republican or Democrat or how I feel about former President Trump or now current President Biden. If you also know me, you know I am a big advocate for helping people expand their own awareness around unconscious bias. Professionally, I even focus my practice on issues of sexual harassment, discrimination, and unconscious bias in the workplace.
In 2020, I had the privilege of leading discussions around race, racism, bias, and understanding with a group of people over several different meetings. My co-hosts and I called this The Big Awkward – Real Conversations and Straight Answers about Race, Color, and Equity, with the idea of talking about some of the very hard issues in this complex discussion. One of my new friends from this discussion recently shared with me a post about Mike Pompeo and his perspective around multiculturalism, which oozes divisiveness, racial and discriminatory bias, and a perspective that I felt compelled to share. You can see that here Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s departing message to the US is that multiculturalism is ‘not who America is’ (yahoo.com).
I generally do not believe in absolute statements and preach about many possibilities. That said, if Mr. Pompeo’s view is, as illustrated by Yahoo, is multiculturalism is not who America is, he is wrong, inappropriate, and an example of what is amiss with some of those in power in our country.
To be even more clear, If …
- … by saying I agree with multiculturalism;
- … by saying I agree with moving towards increased equity for all people, including areas like racial, ethnic, and gender equity;
- … by saying I agree with the goal of eliminating racism, sexism, discrimination, harassment, and other presumptions made by people based on the color of their skin, or where their ancestry is from, or their sexual identity …
… this means you will not hire me, my company, or anyone on my team; I am making my stand publicly on the world wide web that this is okay with me!
America Is a Nation Built on Values of Different Culture
I do not expect everyone to be on the same page or even agree with one individual’s point of view. That said, blind hatred of people that you do not even know is not acceptable. I think back to my early education in America. Part of that education has taught me that America has been built successfully as a melting pot of people from different backgrounds: ethnically, religiously, racially, etc. I believe in this concept being part of the bedrock of our success as a country and equally believe how we all address issues of race, gender, bias, etc., will be one of the hallmarks of how we measure our success in the future.
The often-rhetorical joke I hear people make is, “Why can’t we all just get along.” But, unfortunately, Mr. Pompeo, you are part of the reason we have strife in the world.
Why Diversity Matters?
There is a tremendous amount of research suggesting diversity helps businesses be more successful. In addition, there is massive statistical support suggesting that if you can elevate your self-awareness, create inclusive environments, and mitigate sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, your business WILL be more successful. But, regardless of how successful your business has been, how do you know you have fully maximized how much more successful it can be? Just Google the topic, and you will find all the support you need. Here is one example from McKinsey.
When you complain about inappropriate treatment around the EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) type of matter, do you try to understand if inappropriate behavior is happening rationally? Do you train your employees on what is and is not sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace? Do you help your employees understand how to handle situations if they believe they are being subjected to discrimination or being harassed? Do you even understand what unconscious bias is?
Consider this, when you are hiring someone, are you basing organizational fit based on how you personally connected with some (e.g., you both know the same person) or based on whether the candidate’s mindset is consistent with the organizational culture you are aiming for (e.g., independent working v collaborative and work-sharing style)? Are you letting any unconscious bias impact who you are interviewing? The studies say people do. If you do not believe me, does Harvard research sound more credible? See a Harvard Business School article Minorities Who ‘Whiten’ Job Resumes Get More Interviews – Harvard Business School Working Knowledge (hbs.edu) talking about how job applicants with racially or ethnic associated names on a resume are less likely to receive an interview.
While there are many reasons to train your workforce on issues like harassment and discrimination (e.g., productivity, recruitment, retention, cost reduction, and many more), many organizations want to understand their risk. Federal case law in the United States tells us that employers who do not have training on harassment and discrimination lose the possibility of an affirmative defense when responding to a legal complaint (see Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth, 524 U.S. 742 (1998) and Faragher v. Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775 (1998)). Further, an increasing number of State jurisdictions around the nation pass new laws mandating such training. In some cases, if your company ignores compliance with these laws, there may be financial fines, not to mention again if you have a legal issue, you are further exposing your organization to risk.
If you believe you or your organization could benefit from anti-harassment, anti-discrimination, or unconscious bias training, please call Strategy People Culture at (833) ROCK- SPC or email email@example.com.
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