Category Archives: ADR Advisors

American Diversity Report Team: ADR Advisors

Social Media Insanity – by Deborah Levine 

(Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press)

I was transfixed when Elon Musk first took over as Twitter’s CEO. It was like watching a massive highway car pile up as folks headed for the hills as Musk cried, “No, we’re not dead!”. I was tempted to exit, but was persuaded to stay and fight the good fight. So when the GOP first tweeted their intent to tear apart Hunter Biden, I responded, “How about the $2 billion Kushner got from the Saudis… Are you going to investigate that?” The support was beyond anything I’d experienced from Twitterers. 

Continue reading Social Media Insanity – by Deborah Levine 

Diversity and Speech Part 34: Revisiting Privilege – by Carlos E. Cortés

Diversity language seems to wander through a series of predictable phases.  First, someone comes up with a new term like micro-aggressions, or retrofits an old dictionary word like violence.  A few terms catch on and become diversity specialist standard fare, then enter public lingo, sometimes celebrated, sometimes mocked.  Finally, after the heat dies down and new verbal fads replace them, those formerly-hot terms settle in for the long (or short) haul, during which people tend to mouth them in a relatively mindless, sometimes authoritarian fashion.  

Unfortunately, such has been the trajectory of the term privilege.  Beginning with its entrance into diversity world in the 1980’s, privilege has passed through several stages, ultimately becoming corrupted into little more than a simplistic, polarizing accusation.  This is a real loss, because as formulated by Peggy McIntosh, privilege provides a valuable lens for examining the world around us.  It does so by calling upon people to recognize and reflect on the unearned advantages that have been handed to them.    

Continue reading Diversity and Speech Part 34: Revisiting Privilege – by Carlos E. Cortés

Bridging the Choice Chasm – by Dr. Shalini Nag and Surya Guduru

A path to a sustainable future

As we get look ahead to 2023, sustainability takes center stage, yet again. Can we really achieve a sustainable future? Today, we posit that we can, if we are able to apply the equity and inclusion lens to the problem and bridge the Choice Chasm – the seemingly unbridgeable gap between the haves and the have-nots, between developed and developing nations, between incumbent practices and emerging norms.

Aftershocks from the Covid19 pandemic exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, combined with climate chaos made 2022 a chronicle of global challenges. These include the intermittent resurgence of Covid variants, the mental health epidemic, continued supply chain disruptions, internal displacement in Ukraine, worsening food crisis in the world’s most vulnerable regions, and a global energy crisis. By October 2022, weather disasters alone cost nearly 20,000 lives and 30 billion dollars, refocusing governments and organizations alike on sustainability. 

Continue reading Bridging the Choice Chasm – by Dr. Shalini Nag and Surya Guduru

Embracing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – Dr. Nagwan Zahary

A Business Perspective

Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) becomes a business necessity rather than a choice. Organizations – including businesses, non-profit organizations, colleges and universities  have to reconsider that U.S. is projected to become a majority-minority nation for the first time in 2043 and by 2060, 57 percent of the U.S. population will consist of racially ethnic minorities.1 This change towards a more diverse population will have substantial impact on the workforce and how organizations rethink its processes to manage opportunities and challenges related to DE&I. 

In fact, there is no shortage of suggestions to create inclusive environments. However, it is crucial to think about the role and positioning of DE&I within an organization’s structure. The question here is whether organizations consider DE&I a HR policy, a management-led initiative, an objective, a trend—or a mixture of all four? Some organizations still struggle to properly define DE&I, which impact the development of appropriate DE&I initiatives to empower and engage underrepresented groups. Making progress on that front requires a deep understanding of the concerns, experiences, and perspectives of people with different ethnicities, nationalities, educational backgrounds, sexual orientation, religion, and gender.

To cultivate a more diverse and inclusive workplace, organizations should focus on DE&I as a  strategic business goal rather than a separate initiative or a HR policy. For example, it is not enough that organizations hire employees from different genders, generations, geographies and ethnicities and wait for the magic of DE&I to happen. Considering DE&I as strategic business goals requires specific and measurable actions to engage underrepresented employees within specific timelines. This should be followed by soliciting diverse employees’ inputs in planning and implementing DE&I programs, measuring and reporting outcomes, discussing failures and challenges, and providing solutions to sustain improvements in DE&I programs. Thus, DE&I as a business goal should be embedded in every department, operation, and orchestrated at the organizational levels. In so doing, organizations can achieve meaningful success in promoting, broadening, and maintaining culture of belonging and equitable structures that fully leverage the potential benefits of a diverse workforce and inclusive workplace. 

Furthermore, organizations’ decision-making processes to enhance DE&I as a strategic business goal should be driven by many questions including what DE&I means to internal and external stakeholders, what is the target audience of DE&I programs, what programs can best serve the target groups, and how to measure the impact of DE&I programs on the short and long terms. To answer these questions, organizations should focus on strategic tactics and less anecdotal evidence. Specifically, participatory approach and communication are two strategic tactics—over and above the impact of workplace environment as a whole—shape the degree of impact that DE&I programs exert on marginalized employees. Let’s discuss why these tactics can help organizational efforts transit from diversity towards equity and inclusion, with the ultimate goal to build better work environments instilled by human differences. 

The first tactic is participatory approach that focuses on reaching out and involving marginalized groups in decisions that affect their lives and communities. Crucially, participatory approaches are needed to help employees feel they belong to an inclusive environment where differences are welcomed and valued. Empowerment is a central concept in, and foundation principle of participatory approaches. It underscores the importance of providing a voice to those who have been overlooked for too long and enabling marginalized, diverse people to advance their concerns about DE&I without fear, and provide them opportunities to develop diverse, inclusive, and equitable initiatives. At the core of the concept of empowerment are concerted efforts to (a) improve the competencies of historically marginalized groups by providing them education and mentorship programs to advance their careers, accordingly, increase diversity in leadership positions, and (b) provide marginalized groups with the resources, support, and environment needed to be fully included in the decision-making processes that shape DE&I initiatives. 

The second tactic is effective communication driven by transparency and accountability to bridge the gap between leaders’ and employees’ perspectives about DE&I initiatives. The catch is a two-way communication to ensure that marginalized employees’ concerns and managerial priorities are in alignment. On one hand, managers should clearly communicate DE&I as an integral part of organizational planning linked to organizations’ successes in the marketplace. This requires managers to make a public commitment to enhance DE&I, and be held accountable for desired results. One important aspect of management led-communication is to report about DE&I initiatives by discussing with employees challenges in implementing DE&I programs. Reporting should be based transparency to ensure a thorough communication with underrepresented employees about ways to improve existing and future DE&I initiatives. At the organizational level, a diverse communication team can help increase marginalized employees’ engagement with DE&I through overcoming language and cultural barriers and representing different voices and experiences. On the other hand, employees should commit time and efforts to enhance DE&I by volunteering in diversity committee, participating in surveys to express their concerns, and providing suggestions to improve DE&I initiatives. 

 Needless to say, there are numerous DE&I initiatives to cultivate a diverse and inclusive workplaces. What requires special attention, however, is to set specific metrics to measure the outcomes of DE&I programs to identify what needs improvement and celebrate best practices. Most importantly, organizations should provide training and education for both managers and employees to become more diversity competent and be cognizant of cultural sensitivity. For example, cultural sensitivity trainings can help managers and employees to be more self-aware of their own conscious and unconscious biases. Thus, organizations can require employees at all levels to take regular and mandatory sensitivity trainings to better understand how to coexist in a diverse environment.

The biggest takeaway is that organizations should not consider DE&I as initiatives to comply with government regulations. Organizations should ensure ongoing, open dialogues between managers and marginalized employees to establish a strong foundation for DE&I efforts.  Participatory approaches and effective communication should shape the conversation about DE&I. For leaders, the key message is that DE&I is an evolving journey rather than a static plan. It requires holistic strategies and continual commitment to ensure sustained progress to create inclusive workplaces. 

Reference

 https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/population/cb12-243.html

Technology Trends and Diversity – by Sridhar Rangaswamy

Technology is a dynamic and an ever-changing arena. There are always changes taking place in the field of technology due to new inventions and discoveries and to keep up with the expanding demands of the consumers.

In the earlier days we just had the landlines.  The first cellular was discovered in April, 1973 by Martin Cooper, a Motorola Engineer, while walking and thinking about contacting someone on the streets of New York.

Continue reading Technology Trends and Diversity – by Sridhar Rangaswamy

EHLI: Inclusive or Elitism – by Dr. Deborah Ashton

 Stanford University’s Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative (EHLI)

Stanford University in December of 2022 issued the Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative (EHLI) to eliminate potentially harmful terms used in the United States within the technology community. Most of the recommendations are trying to avoid trivializing people’s experiences and avoid devaluing others. Other recommendations, from this reader’s experience, are a stretch and assume that we are not able to distinguish the context in which a word or phrase is used. 

The EHLI is a courageous and noble endeavor. I would also argue it is US-centric, Anglophilia, and elitist! And may or may not be transferrable to the larger society.

The following is a sampling of the terms/phrases in the EHLI’s thirteen pages of terms and my reaction to them. 

Continue reading EHLI: Inclusive or Elitism – by Dr. Deborah Ashton

UNTOLD Stories of a World War II Liberator

American Diversity ReportAward-winning Documentary

 

CHATTANOOGA, TN: (scroll down for link) As antisemitism and Holocaust denial grow world-wide, it’s vital to hear these first-hand stories of WW II and the Holocaust. Deborah Levine, daughter of a World War II military intelligence officer, has created this documentary as a tool for counteracting hate and for Holocaust education. Her father, Aaron Levine was a ” Ritchie Boy” trained at Fort Ritchie, the U.S. secret military intelligence camp focused on training men, often Jewish immigrants who spoke German, to interrogate Nazi prisoners of war.

Hear the wartime perspective of Aaron Levine as he liberated death camps, served as a spy, and wrote letters about his experience. Be inspired by the love letters of Estelle Swig Malloy, a Special Education pioneer whom Aaron married after they graduated from Harvard. Then hear the memoirs of Polish Holocaust Survivor, Leon Weisband who documented the Nazi invasion of his hometown.

“No student of history can come away from this without a deeper understanding of the sacrifices that were made to end the Holocaust and of the power of storytelling to heal the human heart.”
~ Dylan Kussman, Hollywood actor/producer

From her roots in the only Jewish family to have lived in Bermuda for 4 generations, to her role as a Forbes Diversity & Inclusion Trailblazer, Deborah has been dedicated to “Tikkun olam”, Hebrew for “repair of the world”. This latest project is decades in the making, has won awards in 7 film festivals and will be broadcast by Jewish Life TV on ROKU in 2023. Take advantage of this link to see the documentary today and make plans to share it widely.

CLICK for UNTOLD, Stories  of a WW II LIBERATOR

Director:  Dennis Parker.
Narrator: Deborah Levine, author.
Actors/Readers:
Aaron Levine is played by actor/director/producer Dylan Kussman
Estelle Levine by Charlene Hong White
Aunt Polly by Trish Ross
Leon Weisband by Joel Scribner
Secretary of State Cordell Hull by Greg Glover
Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter by George Hoctor
Reporter by Chase Parker (no relation)
Music by Aaron’s nephew, Hollywood composer Michael Levine

CLICK for the memoir series: The Liberator’s Daughter

Threats to Affirmative Action and DEIA – by Marc Brenman

There is much confusion today between affirmative action, which is under threat by lawsuits in the U.S. Supreme Court, and Diversity, Equity Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA), which is under no such threat, as long as practitioners stay away from race-based quotas and preferences. How can we educate the field about this?

The Supreme Court cases involve allegations by some Asian-American groups that their applicants should be admitted to prestigious colleges like Harvard at a higher rate because other applicants like African-Americans are given a preference. One should bear in mind that Asian-American students are already enrolled in such colleges at a rate far exceeding their presence in the American population, so these cases are not about proportional representation, or a “student body that looks like America.” In some cases, such as the University of California at Berkeley, the undergraduate enrollment is about 48% Asian-American. So these cases involve an extreme form of a desire for merit-based judgments by gate holders.

Continue reading Threats to Affirmative Action and DEIA – by Marc Brenman

Hey Nancy, got a sec? – by Terry Howard

Here’s my question to the men who are about to read this piece: 

Based on what you know for sure, or have been fed by the media about her, if you were to find yourself seated next to Nancy Pelosi on a five-hour cross country plane ride and initiated the conversation, what would you talk about, avoid talking about and why?

So how about I give you, say, one minute to absorb and craft your answer to that question. Go ahead. No, wait, on second thought hold off on your answer until the end of this narrative.

Continue reading Hey Nancy, got a sec? – by Terry Howard

Hate enablers should not prevail – by Deborah Levine

Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

Have you heard that Kanye West might buy the self-styled free speech platform called Parler? Supposedly “conservative”, the app was used to organize and recruit for the Capitol siege. Parler continually enables hate with accounts that use swastikas as their profile pictures along with posts with Holocaust denial, antisemitism, and racism. Proud Boys, QAnon conspiracy theorists, anti-government extremists and white supremacists have all promoted their views on Parler.

Continue reading Hate enablers should not prevail – by Deborah Levine