New Year’s Eve had been a big event in my family. Every year we’d pack up and travel to Long Island spending the holiday at my aunt and uncle’s home with a house full of loved ones. Although I lived in Staten Island, New York at the time, and my cousin Christy lived in Long Island, New York, we were nonetheless close. We looked forward to New Year’s and when it was over, we’d count down the days until the next New Year.
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.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the abundant amount of food we eat on Thanksgiving. In fact, I look forward to it every year. It’s one of my favorite holidays. But it’s more than just the food.
There are two reasons why Thanksgiving matters to me. The first reason begins when I was a child, we spent every Thanksgiving at my grandparents house in Brooklyn. My Sicilian grandmother barely spoke English and my grandfather had always been a quiet man; however, once the whole family with cousins, Aunts and Uncles were in the room, it had been a festive event of chortling and great food in a tiny apartment with one bathroom and approximately twenty-five of us.
It was the hug felt and seen around the world. Depending upon their outlook on the situation at hand, different individuals responded differently to the gesture. I am referring to the hug that was delivered to murderer Amber Guyger by Brandt Jean, the brother of slain victim, Botham Jean. As most people who closely followed the case were aware of, Guyger, a Dallas police officer was found guilty by a multi-racial jury and sentenced to a decade in prison.
The fact that she even found guilt sent shock waves throughout much of the Black community and likely the larger society as well, if we are being honest about it. Generally speaking, police, in particular White police officers who shoot and murder Black people, even those Black men and women that are unarmed and pose no direct threat to the officer in question , are often given the benefit of the doubt and exonerated by many juries and the legal system at large. Thus, surprisingly and justifiably, there was a kernel of justice in the verdict that was rendered. The reason I state that some small degree of fairness occurred is due to the fact that in spite of being convicted Guyger’s sentence was considerably lenient given the crime. Moreover, she will be eligible for parole in 2024. A minute modicum of justice indeed.
When innovative thinking is at the helm, you can be sure that at its core is inspirational leaders. Real leaders have our back, and stand up for doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do. At a time when we are surrounded by the forces of darkness and authoritarian strong men, we owe to ourselves, our communities, our countries and the world to stand shoulder to shoulder in the fight to preserve the freedoms many of us have come to take for granted. Make your voices heard. Democracy dies in silence.
Innovative leaders shape positive behavior, communitarianism as well as business practices. Under this form of stewardship, optimism and gratitude prevail.
For Breast Cancer Month
A dear friend of mine passed away from breast cancer and I’d like to write about her experience and how we became friends.
My husband and I met Maggie and her husband Ray at a neighbor’s barbecue in 2005. We immediately clicked. I don’t know what it was about Maggie, but I found myself confiding in her. Concerned about my horrible experience on September 11, 2001, she understood my fear of driving and not mingling much with people. Twenty-four-years older than me and she offered to do my grocery shopping. Of course, I couldn’t accept. This was truly a kindhearted person. I’m sorry after that barbecue we didn’t speak again until 2011.
Nearly unreadable now, paper wrinkled
as her hands, veins of ink blurred by tears.
But she had the words imprinted in her
mind to recall when memories surged.
She need not know that a fellow soldier
likely persuaded him, loaned him paper
to write an apology of sorts—I wish
I’d not enlisted,
Small talk delights and confounds us, and it is worth asking why. In this short humorous piece I will confine myself to American small talk, as there appear to be different variations on this tune, as Mark Twain might also have pointed out if he had written more about American English and less about the German language.
On the one hand, it can feel overly factual and too easy, (are they making fun of me?) on the other hand, it is full of ambiguity and hidden meaning. But do you KNOW what that meaning is? It is also a way of getting to know you quickly, whatever the circumstances, sharing information, getting the real information fast or just having some fun in a bored moment.
Hence I share with you a “Small Talk Vignette” from one of my trips in the US. Although I am American, I have felt like a foreigner in the US at various times, and this was one of them:
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.
When I provided an introductory session for highly skilled Toastmaster Ant Blair, my goal was to earn the privilege of providing him a program that blends training on how to effect change in one, brief conversation with coaching. Ant was quite engaged during his training. I was feeling optimistic about the outcome. Then at the end of his session, something totally unexpected happened. Ant was the one to effect change in one, brief conversation.