Why does Diversity & Inclusion training include so little instruction in religious diversity? The cultural awareness and cultural competence inherent in D&I are increasingly embraced as the major tools of the global market place of the future. Yet, there is a black hole of information on diverse religions. The silence is surely not due to a lack of interest or visibility. Turn on the TV, open a newspaper, or check the internet and religion pops out as a major issue across the planet. Look at the growing number of EEOC complaints based on religious expression. Yet, the vacuum of expertise in religious diversity exists in most relationship-oriented sectors of our society: business, education, government, and human services. As a result, too few professionals understand how to avoid clashes involving belief systems. How can their paralyzing sense of being overwhelmed and under-prepared be managed?
As etnrepreneurs gear up for 2019, let us remember that there are two basic motivations of the entrepreneurial spirit. The first is the business side of the endeavor and its bottom line, otherwise known as ‘show me the money.’ The second motivation is self-fulfillment. Some refer to this element of entrepreneurship as ‘personal satisfaction.’ At the core of the vague term ‘personal satisfaction’ is what is best described as a spiritual sense of purpose. This spirituality is sometimes linked to one’s faith tradition, but is not necessarily so. Rather, there is a commonality in this spiritual sense that translates across the boundaries of specific religions. Most importantly, there is tremendous power where this spirituality and business overlap.
As a country, we observe Memorial Day by honoring those who have served their country and sacrificed so much. My father was only twenty-two years old as a young soldier in World War II during the Holocaust and on the anniversary of his death a decade ago, I wrote this Memorial Day poem in his honor.
For those who put themselves in harm’s way for their families, friends and country,
For those whose lives were taken in war-torn lands far from home
And for all those who carry the wounds of war proudly and with honor,
Let us say a prayer of thanks and remembrance of courage and of valor.
We came to America without a clue
When November rolled around and Thanksgiving, too
Stories of pilgrims sailing in hope
The Mayflower and Plymouth Rock – Who knew!
When the Jewish New Year came in September this year, I got many questions about calendars and holy days from Human Resource departments. They wanted to know why the holiday occurs on a different day each year according to our secular calendar. And they asked about food associated with the holiday. Offering the traditional apples and honey for a sweet New Year was the easy part. Explaining the timing was the real challenge.
What should I write about religion and religious calendars in these contentious times? I know that many organizations and companies would prefer that the issue of religious diversity would disappear. But every year, thousands of religion-based lawsuits claiming a “hostile or offensive work environment” are registered with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).
When I arrived at Chattanooga’s Second Missionary Baptist Church, A true Southern gentleman, The Rev. Paul McDaniel, met me personally met at the door. Born in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Pastor McDaniel has been part of the Southern landscape and its African American community for most of his life. After attending Morehouse College in Atlanta, he received a Masters of Divinity degree from Colgate-Rochester Divinity School and a Masters of Arts degree from the University of Rochester in New York. A Chattanooga resident since 1966, Rev. McDaniel is stepping down from his post at the Second Missionary Baptist Church after almost 50 years of service. A larger-than-life figure in the community, I share our conversation in his honor.
Here’s what teenage global leaders-in-training had to say when asked what a young global leader should know. The words of wisdom come from high school and middle school students participating in the American Diversity Report Youth Global Leadership Class. Enjoy their timeless advice and then read what leadership experts said about preparing the upcoming generation of leaders.
Starbucks’ plan for an afternoon of unconscious bias training is admirable but may not be effective. The fuzzy, vague term of unconscious bias is often applied indiscriminately, but unconscious bias isn’t a one-size-fits-all term amenable to a one afternoon of training. Yes, it can refer to the incident where the police were called to arrest two African-Americans waiting for a meeting at Starbucks. But it can also mean only smiling at customers that look like you, rejecting resumes from diverse applicants, and promoting the employees who resemble the current leadership team. If we want to address unconscious bias effectively, we need to first be aware of how the senses, emotions, and brain interact to create unconscious bias. Second, we must go beyond awareness of our biases to sensitivity to their impact. Lastly, we need to develop a system that internalizes wise decision making with ongoing reinforcement of that competence.
I used to write about terrorism in the U.S. every spring. My articles began with the domestic terrorism of the Oklahoma City bombing more than twenty years ago on April 19. That’s when I became the community/media liaison for Oklahoma’s Tulsa Jewish Federation. It was shortly after the bombing destroyed the Murrah Building and so many lives were affected. I felt compelled to investigate what led to the deadliest bombing, prior to 9/11, on our native soil. The violent hatred that I saw has not only continued, but has expanded globally, and now, it encompasses the entire year.
As the editor of the American Diversity Report, I’ve insisted on including environmental articles, focusing on the economic impact of Going Green on our world, our workplace, and our lives. When I considered doing an article on the iconic Greenpeace movement which started so much of our environmental activism, I thought it would be an intellectual and historical project. But, my 92-year old Aunt Polly informed that my Green-ness runs in the family, that Greenpeace is just a cousin away and that includes one of the movement’s matriarchs.