I have always specialized in hostile or militant audiences but from time to time even I have to step back and pause for a second.Current events are always “fair game” in my workshops; it is what makes my sessions current, electric and never boring.Recent moments of truth in my sessions lead me to pen and update to the original article I wrote many years ago.The recent rash of horrible racial injustices (some say pattern) of Ahmaud Arbery to Breonna Taylor to George Floyd to Amy Cooper has erupted into a national conversation about racial injustice, white privilege, inequity, diversity, inclusion, and more.
Comments like – “I don’t care about BLM – Black Lives Matter, I am trying to run a business” or “White Lives Matter” or worse “White Lives Matter More (WLMM)” when people mention “Black Lives Matter” has led many to the politicization and polarization of these horrible atrocities and we these acts continue a horrible pattern of racial injustice.You have to go back to “Rodney King had it coming!” and “Tayvon Martin, who cares.”Today, you must be a “liberal” or a “conservative” – ouch!
When people talk about “Diversity and Inclusion Best Practices in the legal profession” we hear a lot of the same things over and over again.Well, I have come across a first, a truly innovative Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion leading best practice.You heard it from me first, right here, right now.
Harrity is the nation’s leading patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas, and is considered a Go-To firm for the Patent 300. Harrity recently launched its first Minority Firm Incubator program to help train, develop, and launch minority-owned patent law firms. This paid program is an integral part of the firm’s ongoing diversity initiative to recruit, retain, and advance attorneys who will contribute to the increasing diversity of the patent field.
This fundamental concept is one of the core principles of my work and integral to DTG’s approach to dealing with diversity issues in the workplace and marketplace.Diversity issues or employee relation issues (among people who are different) typically involve two people.The perpetrator or the initiator of the behavior is one party and the target or the receiver of the behavior is the second party.
The diversity issue or incident (sometimes it is one “moment of truth”) is defined as a behavior, an action, or a series of behaviors (a pathology or trend) that one party (the target) feels or concludes based on the behavior(s) was wrong, inappropriate, disrespectful, discriminatory or illegal.
First – We Don’t Know the Intentions of Others
We all mean well.I never question the intent of any person’s actions.We actually don’t know the intentions of the other person but we assume their intentions based on the behavior we see, how we react (our feelings) or the kind of relationship we have with the perpetrator.This is the first mistake. We should look at the behavior(s) in question and only the behavior(s).Looking just at the face value of the behavior is a good start.
I tend to focus on the actual behavior and how that behavior might affect or influence other people.In other words, I focus on the impact said behavior(s) has on other people.The consequences of any action, how the behavior might be received or perceived or experienced is what I tend to scrutinize.
Second – “I didn’t Mean It”
I find too many people will get defensive when the target confronts the perpetrator about the behavior(s).The perpetrator typically responds with, “I didn’t mean it the way you took it.”Often, in my travels, people don’t want to be held accountable for their actions.Unfortunately, this does not take the “sting” out of the behavior(s).What matters is what you said, not what you meant.
What Is Appropriate
Don’t take it personally – apologize for your comment.Don’t try to avoid your responsibility – step up to the plate.Don’t focus on your intentions – no one knows your intentions.Try to put yourself in the target’s shoes and understand their feelings.Put your feelings aside.This is not about you – the perpetrator – this is about the target.Try to empathize with the target.Apologize and ask the target to always come and share with this person their feelings whenever they feel wronged.You want to be perceived as humble, approachable and “bigger” than any one incident.What you don’t want to do is seem defensive, stubborn, or stubborn.Reach out!This is a wake up call that you need to improve this relationship.Misunderstandings are more likely to arise among strangers or people who have strained or weak relationships.
Most Common Mistakes
“You people!What do your people think?You are so articulate for a (blank); I don’t see you as a (blank).Men/women, you can’t….” These are some of the most common mistakes people make. Stay away from these behaviors.Never see people as members of a group but rather focus on the person, the individual.If you do go here, apologize immediately and reach out and ask for help and coaching from the other person.
An Interview with John Harrity, Managing Partner, Harrity & Harrity, LLP
At a recent Association of Legal Administrators, Washington, DC Chapter meeting – John Harrity, Managing Partner and Diversity Partner of Harrity & Harrity was on a panel and presenting his firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Journey. Harrity and Harrity, LLP is an Intellectual Property Firm boutique based in Fairfax, VA, experiencing high growth. He explained their commitment to Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) and said, “We believe that the ‘practice of law’ is advanced by a more diverse legal team – with diversity of background, upbringing, education, and perspective comes quality legal innovation. At Harrity & Harrity, we are committed to The Harrity Rule, a supercharged version of the Rooney Rule that shows our firm’s commitment to D&I is not window dressing or smoke and mirrors.”
Many years ago I authored an article entitled “Gender Quake” and it was all about the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings – the first time sexual harassment and gender equity issues entered our living rooms (through TV) and never left. Before these hearings – these issues did not garner attention or coverage, they did not make the newspaper or even local news – not even a blip or a mention. The current political climate and our President is a major contributing factor – a backdrop for this conversation. Now, national, international news and hours of coverage (educating public) on the nightly news and cable is the norm, our new normal.
I have been in the diversity-training field for nearly 20 years and everybody talks about “Diversity Best Practices” today. Well, I think it is time, overdue really, for more conversation and deliberation about Diversity Worst Practices. I suggested this at a recent ASAE (American Society of Association Executives) Diversity Conference and it was very well received and they encouraged me so here goes. I am surprised to find very little in print about this so I am just going to “add to the conversation.” At DTG we tend to be contrarian; we tend to look at issues from many different and often “nontraditional” angles and perspectives. That is really what the diversity field is all about –right? What value do our differences add or bring to the organization. Editor’s Note: Click for Mauricio’s podcast
I have been in the diversity training field for nearly 20 years and everybody talks about best practices but I feel too many of my colleagues really make it more complicated than it really needs to be and here at DTG we have always tried to make diversity issues and the related training more easy to comprehend and embrace. The prerequisite reading for this article is an article I recently wrote entitled – “Diversity Worst Practices.” Another article that would be helpful to read is our article on our website diversitydtg.com about ineffective or bad diversity training – what I like to call “Blame and Shame” diversity training and please find the related article on what exactly is the definition of a diversity issue. Continue reading Diversity Best Practices – By Mauricio Velásquez→
As a Diversity Consultant and Trainer to law firms I am often asked by our clients “help us stop the bleeding.” Firms invest so much in sourcing, recruiting and developing their talented associates and to see them leave prematurely can be disastrous. One of my clients had lost nearly a dozen partners and associates (too many were women, minorities, not all) in a particular practice area in a several week span and they called DTG for help.
Observations and Tips from recent training in the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) trenches (especially hostile or militant audiences)
CURRENT EVENTS – Current events are just “upping the volume, the passion, the conversation in the workshop.” Do not shy away from current events. I do not answer “what do you think about…” questions at first, I deflect to rest of room to get them talking. Do your homework, stay up to date on current events – be ready! Address vacuum, hearsay and gossip with facts. You might have to revisit ground rules more than once. Between Trump, Confederate Flag, Terrorism (domestic and international), Law Enforcement News, shootings, etc., – who can keep up? Well, you have to. I read multiple newspapers and watch multiple news hours every night (I watch all sides, all perspectives). You have to be a historian to do this work correctly.
As a professional who has worked in the D&I field for 25 years, I am seeing some significant emerging trends in the workplace. As a result of an improving economy, previously slashed HR budgets are finally being revitalized with attention being paid to training and development – especially for diversity and inclusion. In addition, as the labor market continues to improve, more employers are talking about becoming an “employer of choice” and strengthening their programs and employee relationships. The days of employers feeling their staff should “just be happy to have a job” are increasingly behind us as the market shifts in favor of employees. Savvy employers who value diversity, widen their recruiting net and retain talent by implementing inclusive programs will win the war for new talent. The newest generation entering the workforce is more diverse than ever and the generation behind it will produce an even more diverse “wave” of new hires. Status quo is no longer applicable.