If there was one thing that you could point to for all of your accomplishments, what would it be? Likewise, where would you point the finger for all of your mistakes and failures? Right now there should be two fingers pointing at you. Why? Because who you are and what you become is completely up to you.
The modern workplace brims with activity as people dart from meeting to meeting. Sometimes our communication is too brief. At times our messages are not well thought out. Even when the communication is crystal clear, the message can get lost in a wave of workload. But because our organizations tend to rely on best practices, people have a common frame-of-reference when there are misunderstandings. Best practices are a common denominator that allow us to understand and predict behavior, and serve as “true north” as we navigate the complexity of modern organizational life.
As organizations expand internationally and multi-cultural communications between employees, vendors, suppliers, and customers become more frequent, we are finding that the common denominator of best practices begins to unravel. And once we can no longer fall back on best practices, our inner compass can go haywire.
During my highly visible role as diversity and inclusion director at two Fortune 500 companies, I wrote internal articles read by people across the globe. I also had to make difficult decisions, sometimes with potentially significant financial consequences, for the organization. Following is a major decision I made and the national fallout in one company. That’s followed by a few responses I received in response to internal articles I wrote. Note that topics of sexual orientation or Islam/Muslims seemed to generate these messages to me:
Chart your own professional future. Because where you work can make all the difference in the world in your job satisfaction. Why not? Now is the right time. Unemployment is low and there is a labor shortage, so you have choices in jobs!
This means that you should act with purpose in choosing where you work. Figure out what is important to you and then, while interviewing, ask questions that help you learn about the company and if it is a place where your needs and values will be met. If diversity is a critical value for you, it should be as well for the organization at which you work. How can you determine how important diversity is to an organization just from an interview? You will want a sense of this before deciding whether or not to accept an offer of employment. You can acquire this information during an interview by asking questions like the following, observing, and listening.
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.
More than just sexual harassment…
When most people hear about harassment at work it’s likely to be sexual harassment, especially in today’s #MeToo era. But sexual harassment is just one of multiple unlawful bases of harassment in the employment context.
Other forms of job harassment usually don’t get the same amount of national media attention, unless the case is particularly egregious — such as racial harassment involving a hangman’s noose, KKK graffiti or the N-word.
NOTE: Article originally appeared in The Chattanooga Times Free Press
Who doesn’t know about the cops being called on two black men at Starbucks? Don’t we all know that Starbucks closed its stores around the country to do unconscious bias training? But what would you answer if asked for a description of “Unconscious Bias”? Most folks will ramble, hem and haw, or just say, “I have no idea.” When asked to describe training to prevent unconscious bias from becoming outright prejudice and discrimination, the response may be a profound, dumbfounded silence.
The Un-Bias Guide for Leaders is based on Levine’s Matrix Model Management System which involves the storytelling principles of cultural anthropology, the planning methodology of urban planning, and the team leadership of facilitation. The Un-Bias Guide is combination text / workbook customized for the workplace. The guide is an innovative tool for addressing unconscious bias and conscious choices.
UN-BIAS GUIDE FOR LEADERS
Designed for team training in the workplace: business leaders, nonprofit administrators, and innovative entrepreneurs. CLICK at the bottom of the following short video to hear Deborah Levine share why the Un-Bias Guide is what today’s workplace needs.
“When Ms. Levine introduced her story methods and the Matrix Model Management system, light bulbs went off. Tell our stories breaks down barriers and let us react on a different level.”
~ Online Wall Street Journal
“Deborah Levine leads Un-Bias trainees through a discovery process that promotes awareness of the unconscious, deeply held cultural views that we all carry. When those views are examined and shared, a new paradigm of equity and insight begins to evolve. Ms. Levine’s revelatory training, smattered with humor and even a bit of Yiddish, challenge existing notions of diversity and unleash opportunities for leaders and change-makers to shape a more inclusive and representative future.”
~ Rebecca Whelchel, Executive Director of Metropolitan Ministries/Chattanooga Social Services
“Deborah Levine is one on the nation’s leading experts, speakers, authors, trainers and communicators on sensitive and complex issues of cultural diversity. She takes you below the surface and gets at the heart of what works in bringing diverse people together in a mutually beneficial way in which everyone wins. Her latest workbook is a ‘must read’ for employers, managers and labor across all industries. Unlawful discrimination can cost companies big bucks, bad publicity, damage the brand and alienate the consumer base. This exemplary educational guide is a small but wise investment in better understanding and leveraging diversity from the corporate boardroom to the classroom, from Wall Street to Main Street USA. This is an especially important issue to comprehend as America’s population becomes increasingly more diverse in all walks of life. This trend is projected by the U.S. Census Bureau to continue well into the foreseeable future — and the future is now.”
~ David Grinberg, former national media spokesman for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
“In my role as a Human Resources Manger, the training and cultural awareness of the Matrix Model Management System will allow me to relate to others as they would like without assuming what they want or need.”
~ Valoria Armstrong, TN American Water/President,
NAACP Chattanooga/Former President
Purchase your Signed copies:
UN-BIAS GUIDE for LEADERS
(originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press)
Thought Leader has become a popular term in 2018. It sounds impressive and timely, even if we’re not sure what it means. At one level, the term is meaningless. If you aspire to be a thought leader, does that mean you’re currently a thoughtless leader? Joking aside, Thought Leader has come to refer to an expert in a given field who’s been able to monetizing that expertise. Some look at the reference as the result of inflated ego, but also as a useful marketing tool for increasing visibility and recognition.