2020 turned into a momentous year for diversity training. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many diversity trainers, myself included, to re-invent themselves by adapting their workshops into an online format. The Memorial Day killing of George Floyd thrust anti-racism into the center of diversity training, challenging those presenters who had generally soft-pedaled the issue. President Donald Trump’s September 22 executive order, “Race and Sex Stereotyping,” caused government agencies and contractors, including some higher education institutions, to suspend or mute their diversity training.
In the aftermath of tragic police violence and subsequent street protests, many US corporations and other organizations have issued ritualistic and formulaic statements declaring their support for Black Lives Matter and decrying racism. What does this mean, and what will they do to follow through? Many of these companies already have diversity programs and are already required to comply with state and federal nondiscrimination laws and regulations. A number of states, cities, and counties have broader non-discrimination prohibitions than the federal government, for example, to include LGBTQ status.
The larger companies employ Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs) or someone with a different title but similar responsibilities. The vast majority of people in these positions are African-American females. Some are male, and some are Hispanic. A few are white females. Almost none of the CDOs are members of the executive teams of these companies. Diversity does not occupy a place similar to core missions, such as production, operations, marketing/sales/ advertising/branding, finance, legal, logistics, supply chain, health and safety, etc. Only a relatively small percent of companies report their diversity demographics publicly, and almost none disaggregate the figures by level of employment, pay grade, responsibility, etc.
Many of us begin new jobs with hope, enthusiasm, commitment and drive. And then something happens. We come up across obstacles we struggle to navigate. Bosses we thought were champions go silent and become unavailable. Colleagues who should be supportive thought partners seem to be hoarding information and have no time for us.
It’s easy to blame ourselves, and even easier to blame someone else. But the truth is, it’s bigger than that. When people are brought together, they inevitably compete for limited resources. The problem is that resources are always limited whether it’s additional headcount, a promotion, a manager’s attention, or a runway for your new idea. And that competition is the definition of office politics.
I often hear that leadership is greatly needed in these challenging times. But what does leadership mean? Is it a matter of personality? Is leadership defined by mission and goals? Are leaders inspirational figures who leave the nuts and bolts to others? The more we try to define leadership, the more the concept undefinable. “There are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the concept,” said Ralph Stogdill, a Professor of Management Science and Psychology known for his research and publications on the Personal Factors Associated with Leadership.
We are still in the midst of a disruptive crisis no matter how “positive thinking police” try to spin it. As the Covid-19 quarantine continues with people working from home, with little or no social interaction, some of your team members may start experiencing a deeper level of anxiety. No one knows when or how it will end or what the “new normal” will look like. That anxiety due to seemingly uncertain futures and not knowing how or when the crisis will end, can cause some people to panic, lose focus about their work and disengage from the team.
With the right strategies you have the power to help yourself, your family and people in your organization to not panic and instead find joy and stay engaged. The actions you take now to increase and sustain connection, community, and inclusion will make the difference between a long re-entry or the shortest one possible. If you want to know five actions you can take immediately, read on.
How Leaders & Employees
Go from Fear to Optimism:
One TEAM again
The new norm of work is a challenge for businesses and the workforce. No one is exempt from the challenges we face during this period of isolation. Even those who are used to working virtually will have new demands placed on them. Teams will be forced to communicate differently and accommodate home-based needs. Team leaders must find ways to collaborate and move forward despite unprecedented uncertainty. Business owners can find themselves in a fight for survival while not only maintaining the ability to restart operations, but implementing creative ways to make that transition. How are we going to manage all this? Continue reading From Virus-Suppression to Workplace Return – by Deborah Levine and Cathy Light
One of the hardest things you may have to do over the next few days, weeks and months is to BE the Leader that holds the light and strength for everyone around you.
You have all learned by now that certain people have special spirits, and people are drawn to you for your leadership, your courage and your inner strength. This will happen even more right now, when there are so many searching for answers. In order for you to do that, you need to understand that these experiences will cause you to blossom into the leaders you are meant to become!
This is the second of three columns in which I make fifty-year projections concerning the following question: as a nation, where will we stand in 2070 when it comes to the contested interplay of diversity and speech? These three columns are based on a public presentation on diversity and speech that I gave at the December, 2019, Speculative Futures in Education Conference at the University of California, Riverside.
In my previous column I argued that the internet has dramatically altered the diversity-speech discussion, particularly when it comes to hate speech. As an easily-accessible mechanism for spreading hate, including through troll storms and doxing, the internet has developed into a true weapon of terror.
Technological revolutions always transform the workplace, especially the job skills and talents required to perform.
By 2025, about 40% of today’s skills will at least change, if not be made obsolete and replaced by new skills. On average, in some 60% of jobs, at least a 30% of their activities can be automated.
Hence, most jobs will change or be replaced, and more people will need to work alongside technology. Digital technology also changes how and where work takes place.
This is the eighth in a series of columns based on my research as a former fellow of the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement. In these columns I have discussed what I call the diversity movement — the composite of individual, group, and organizational efforts to reduce societal inequities that penalize people because of their actual or perceived membership in certain social groups. In particular I have focused on the intersection of diversity and speech.
After analyzing the past half century of the diversity movement, I concluded that the movement actually consists of four separate but intersecting diversity strands: intercultural; equity and inclusion; critical theory; and managing diversity. My past columns have sketched the parameters of the first three strands. In this column I will focus on the fourth strand, managing diversity.