My African American family came from a small community in Eastern North Carolina. We were, and still are, a very close knit group. My overall inspiration comes from my mother, a strong woman, who supported me on my way to self development and discovery. With respect to STEM-related fields, I was inspired by my high school chemistry teacher, who did an excellent job of engaging her students. Additionally, my aunt, my Mom’s sister, taught Biology at my high school. Both my Chemistry teacher and my aunt pushed me to join extracurricular science activities because they saw that I had a natural affinity for science and math. Eventually, I was introduced to Chemical Engineering by a representative from the local DuPont Chemical plant who spoke to our HS physics class about his work as a Chemical Engineer during a Career Fair event.
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 Status quo is no longer applicable.
At work, time isn’t always on our side—especially in this new era where advanced technology, changing office environments, and differing attitudes about the way we do business has dramatically altered the landscape of the workplace. The days of sequestering yourself behind closed doors and telling your secretary to “hold all calls” are long gone, as is the ability to be “off the clock.” Today, technology has made everyone reachable at all times. Even if you’re not answering calls, you’re expected to be reading your texts and checking your email on a regular basis.
Do you recall the last time you heard a casual remark about the stereotype of one particular racial/ethnic group? These are not blatant racist jokes, but stereotypical comments such as:
“White men can’t jump.”
“Latinos are lazy.”
“Blacks are better runners.”
“Natives are drunks.”
“Asians can’t drive.”
Toxic employees are trying to “take over” and create toxic workplaces. As a diversity trainer, sexual harassment prevention trainer, consultant, executive coach, and expert witness, for twenty five years now, so much of my work points to one emerging phenomenon – toxic employees, toxic workplaces, are on the rise!
Close your eyes. Imagine that you are the average white American in the early 21st Century. You can visualize yourself as president of your country (or country club). You can see yourself as the object of widespread adulation for winning an Oscar or Olympic gold. You have no difficulty picturing yourself as a graduate of Stanford or Harvard or Duke, as an inventor, as a diplomat or a thousand and one other achievements. But when you focus your mind on your fellow Americans of African or Asian or Native or Latin heritage, what do you imagine then? What images spring to mind?
“I am a Generation Y. ” This statement seems harmless enough, until you find yourself planted in a room full of baby boomers fed up with the millennials, the whiney, egocentric, group of fickle youngsters filing into the newly unstructured world of work. We are the facebookers, the job-hoppers, the demanders and questioners who want a raise NOW with a company car and a key to the executive washroom. Never mind that we’ve only been working for two months. True, the Y generation may be a bit spoiled and tend to expect rewards somewhat prematurely, but we do have a few good traits that could encourage you to work with generation differences.
As its First Breath allotted at birth
Was woe to the wretched on Earth
‘Twas left behind as a silent whisper
As welfare to a warm heart’s painful prayer
Grasping for air; ’twas deaf to all but one ear
And toil to prodigy’s lovely heirs
Noble Man of Manhood years,
Shame Upon you,
If your heart’s bloom for a maiden,
Turns cold your stare to the blood that bore you
The school of time preaches the art of remembering
But souls I’ve crossed crave the art of forgetting
And though they say time fades memories
‘Tis not an absolute truth
For time reinforces, remembers ever so much more
For that which you own, not time nor fate can rob it