All posts by Terry Howard

© Terry Howard is an award-winning writer, trainer and story teller. He is a senior associate at Diversity Wealth, a contributing writer with the Chattanooga News Chronicle, The American Diversity Report, The Atlanta Business Journal, The Huffington Post and New York-based Catalyst. He can be reached at wwhoward3@gmail.com.

Advice from the Harassed – by Terry Howard

The “ho hum,” been there/done that remedies for stopping sexual harassment have been sitting in seldom-read policy manuals and preached about in awareness workshops for decades. And yet harassment still raises its ugly head in organizations large and small, public and private. There’s no better validation than the recent “me too” movement and outed perpetrators who have seen their personal lives and careers go up in smoke.

So, what effective personal strategies should potential targets of harassment consider? How do they ward it off in the first place, or respond to it in the moment?

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Sexual Harassment on the Road – by Terry Howard

“Oh, oh…traveling alone on business…with her!”

Another day, another sexual harassment complaint against a high profile man. Will all this result in a chilling effect on the organization in which some men in power will be reluctant to hire or promote women? Will women and men – men in particular – find themselves now reluctant to travel on business with women? With these questions in mind, I decided to repost an article I wrote a while back about questions from  one of my  listening tours:

“Terry, tell me what concerns many men the most when traveling alone with a single woman on company business. How do men of Muslim or Pakistani or Saudi backgrounds deal with this issue from a cultural or religious perspective? What advice would you offer women and men who may have concerns about this?”

I puzzled over her questions then decided to seek answers from a cross section of people in my global network, male and female.

Here’s what they shared:

“Terry, my only concern is that when I travel alone with a woman, which I do often, do I sometimes come across as patronizing or over-protective of her, particularly in some parts of the world where women may be viewed as less equal, or in some cases where safety may be an issue?”

“I recall a situation where I traveled overseas with a male colleague. We were both married. I heard from others that he would avoid having lunch with just a female colleague on a work day, so I knew he would be sensitive about the issue. We both took extra care to avoid any situation that may be misconstrued or misinterpreted by ourselves or by others. I can be a touchy feely person sometimes with friends, but I made sure to keep an extra distance between us to avoid making us both uncomfortable. I believe he did as well. It was a successful trip despite his initial discomfort with traveling with a woman. I think awareness of the issue comes first and taking steps to put the other person at ease is next.”

“With my Pakistani background, I totally understand the dilemma Muslim men might face and do agree that there are measures you can take that will ensure that the integrity of your relationship is maintained. Many Muslim men and women do not shake hands with the opposite sex. I do not hold this too strongly. I respect women who choose not to shake hands with me.”

“Traveling with a woman depends on whether you are a single man and not in a committed relationship. It also depends on the other person and how secure they are. I know we are talking about business, but I have yet to see someone totally separate the business and social when traveling together. We are relational and emotional beings by nature, but experience and maturity helps us manage both. In case some didn’t know, men are just as emotional as women. We were trained from an early age to manage and manifest our emotions differently. Nothing wrong with that.

At some point during the trip the conversation won’t be all just about business. However, most men are not equipped to handle conversations that venture beyond “How about them Cowboys”. Let’s be real. We men like sometimes sharing a cab, breakfast, lunch and dinner with someone. I can say the same for some women as well. Men are stimulated by what we see, touch, feel, taste, etc. That is why most of us like sports and other interactive activities.

I will also share that most men and women in a secure relationship are not as bothered by traveling with a single person of the opposite sex. The relationship you have with the person before the trip can make a difference in comfort level as well. The more you know about each other helps create a more plutonic relationship.

Lastly, from a religious perspective, as in a Christian perspective, men and women are advised to avoid the appearance of mis-conduct. Unfortunately, we live in a time when chaste behavior in not the norm, thus, for most people of faith, your putting yourself in a position that appears to be compromising is a big deal. Many on-lookers assume the worst before the best. “

“A lot of this depends on corporate culture and effectively navigating situations given your own boundaries as well as the expected norms of the corporate culture. For example, at my company we tend to be a very touchy feely culture and hug a lot. If the culture is more congenial, it helps to be absolutely clear on what your boundaries are because women and men are programmed differently.

“One thing not addressed is the “fear of” factors. Today I do believe women are more willing to stand up to an inappropriate comment, gesture or innuendo; however, there may be times in a person’s career (man or women) where they feel pressured from a career standpoint to “go along.” If you don’t feel strong enough to say something we head down the pathway with warning signs. I believe it’s possible that men and women can, with the best of intentions, end up here out of one of two emotions – fear for their career progression or desire to achieve in their career.

As a long time HR practitioner, I’ve seen both. The other issue, especially for men, is the litigious fear factor – fear of something they say or do being misinterpreted or misrepresented in a complaint about their behavior, or of being sued and having their name and reputation destroyed. Most of this comes down to not knowing how to have open and real conversations at work. I am a subscriber to “when in doubt, don’t” as it relates to subjects like these.”

Some tips for consideration:

  • Get to know the person you will travel with prior to the trip.
  • If you are married or have a relationship with another, make sure you tell them who you are traveling with and keep them in the loop during the trip.
  • If you are uncomfortable or have some religious tenants that forbid traveling with someone of the opposite sex, make separate arrangements and let the other person know when you can meet to discuss the business of the trip.
  • Avoid private meals together in your room or in dimly lit restaurants.
  • If you get uncomfortable with the conversation, talk about how much your wife or girlfriend would love to be there with you sharing the sights, or tell them a pleasant story about your relationship.
  • If you really feel uncomfortable, check out alternatives for traveling with another person.

To Kneel or Not to Kneel? – by Terry Howard

“The Robert E. Lee High School Fighting Leeman!”

There’s a cultural tug of war raging across the nation and it has seeped down into “small town USA,” my little hometown in Virginia notwithstanding. And seemingly there’s no end in sight.

On one side the argument is to remove the name of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general, from the name of the local high school. No new news there. For those on the other the side, this is about heritage, not slavery, so leave things the hell alone. No new news there either. So the finger pointing rages on.

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Missing my little buddy David – by Terry Howard

“The biggest problem with having a disability is that far too often
people see it before they see you!”

I met little David at a local Starbucks a few years ago.

You see, I was hunched over my laptop searching the internet for a new twist for a piece on people with disabilities given that October is National Disability Employment Month. Over a third cup of coffee, I was focused, oblivious to the comings and goings of folks entering and leaving. But in truth, I was in my zone and preferred to keep it that way.

But little David – his Downs Syndrome and all – had other plans for me. And others.

At the top of his lungs, David called out “Hey brother” as he approached a surprised me at my table in the corner. A high five and a hug later, David was off greeting and hugging others in the place. And like me, all were startled and clearly smitten by little David. It was written all over their faces, our faces. Their silence spoke volumes.

“David, David, get back over here. Leave these people alone!” demanded his mom; words she’d no doubt uttered many times before – words obviously to no avail. But that was before she realized how deeply David touched all of us that day.

Three minutes later, and with little David in tow, mom headed to the door and, David being David, waved and bellowed to us, “good bye my friends.” And we all, in unison, in different words, with moisten eyes – patrons and Starbucks employees alike – stood up and returned, “See ya David!”

And for a few seconds we all stood there, in complete silence, absolute strangers no longer, knowing somehow and full well that we’d just been touched – and connected in our humanity – by an angel.

Now I’ve returned to that Starbucks a number of times since then, feeling cheated by the brevity of that meeting with David, wishing and hoping my little buddy would be there.

But no such luck so far. But I’ll keep going back.

Yes, I’ll keep going back…. wishing and hoping!

Mighty is the Mongrel: Diversity – by Terry Howard

Diversity defines the health and wealth of nations in a new century. Mighty is the mongrel. The hybrid is hip. The impure, the mélange, the adulterated, the blemished, the rough, the black-and-blue, and the mix-and-match – these people are inheriting the earth. Mixing is the new norm. Mixing trumps isolation. It spawns creativity, nourishes the human spirit, spurs economic growth and empowers nations.”

As much as I’d like to, I can’t claim that the above quote belongs to yours truly. No. Its actual source is G. Pascal Zachary’s, The Global Me: New Cosmopolitans and the Competitive Edge.

Initial reactions aside, you have to admit that this one’s a classic thought-provoker. Once I ceased quibbling over Zachary’s intriguing choice of words and began really processing this on a much deeper level, it started to hit home.

And here’s why.

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Exorcising the disease of “perfection” – by Terry Howard

How about a show of hands from those of you out there who consider yourselves perfect?

Humm, not a single hand went up. Maybe you didn’t hear me right, so I’ll cuff my ears, kick the volume up, italicize, capitalize and repeat the question; HOW ABOUT A SHOW OF HANDS FROM THOSE OF YOU WHO CONSIDER YOURSELVES PERFECT?

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26 tiny paint brushes- on writing! – by Terry Howard

Okay, I love to write.

Am I good at my craft? Well, only my readers can answer that question. But I’m here today to share a bit about my history as a writer utilizing the Q & A format. Here goes:

Q: Terry, when did you decide to become a writer?

A: Although I love sports, it didn’t take me long to realize that a NBA career was not in my future. And science and math were not my strong points. Singing? Dancing? Since I’m the worst singer and dancer in the history of the world I ruled out those two options. So I figured that since putting pen to paper was something I enjoyed, plus I had great English teachers, I decided to major in English in college.

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Rejecting rejection! – by Terry Howard              

Rejection!

Who the heck needs it? It’s personal, can hurt deeply and can leave an indelible emotional scar. Fact is, just like the air we breathe, we live in a world where rejection is all around us, always has been, always will be.

Rejection is part and parcel to life in general, to systems and eco-systems, to processes, to negotiations, to decisions, to change and reactions to change. Arguably, the worst types of rejection occurs when the body rejects an organ transplant or chemotherapy.

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The Atheism Challenge – by Terry Howard

‘Terry, I’m (gasp) an atheist!’  There was not a hint of anger in her during the entire time “Mary” and I talked that afternoon in the crowded sandwich shop. In fact, it was just the opposite. “Mary” laughed, we laughed, so hard and so much that out of the corner of my eye I could see icy stares from booths nearby “telling us” to pipe down so that they could get back to their business dealings, grandkiddos, tuna sandwiches, chips and lattes. Here’s the email “Mary” sent me the Friday before that prompted that late Monday meeting:

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Consider the Iceberg: Untold Challenges of the Boys in Blue – by Terry Howard

Readers, you’ll need to rely on your imagination to read this narrative.
Let’s start with a few actual “voices from the ranks.”

First Donnie, a middle age white police officer who got out of his hospital bed after recovering from a brutal beating by a drug dealer and returned to street duty, to the profession he still loves.

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