As we connect with diversity thought leaders and listen to the perspectives of employees at all levels, we’re reminded that the decades-long diversity and inclusion journey has reached a critical point. Important progress has been made, but major gaps remain across communities and workplaces.
Since March is National Women’s History Month, I decided to depart from tradition and offer the reader some other, perhaps different, food for thought, but with this warning: What follows isn’t for the feint-of-heart. It could be hazardous to your health since it may uncork a range of reactions – shock, anger and denial (plus a few choice four-letter words). But by the time you finish this, I will have been whisked off, under heavy guard, to one of my safe houses under a writer’s protection program. So don’t come gunning for my noggin, okay?
With that opener, I pry open an “undiscussable,”privilege, unearned privilege that is.
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 Status quo is no longer applicable.
I often get requests to address particular topics in columns and workshops, some clearly diversity-related, others not. Here are examples: “What’s it like being black in corporate America?” “Why women don’t brag – and why they should,” “Dreadlocks, long braids, weaves and wigs in corporate America,” “How to talk to a transgender person,” “How to recover from rejection at work,” and “Strategies for promoting your professional brand.” And there are others.
Stephen Zack is determined that the American Bar Association (ABA) does not give in to ‘diversity fatigue.’ Zack is the first Hispanic president of the American Bar Association in its 150 years. Not surprisingly, Zack has an ongoing passion for both the law and for the issue of diversity. Recent census numbers underscores Zack’s insistence that the U.S. legal profession to become more diverse. One in six Americans is now of Hispanic heritage; the Asian-American population has more than doubled in the last 10 years. But the increasingly multiracial American population is not yet accurately reflected in the U.S. legal system even though lawyers and judges should represent the community they serve. The ABA formed the first-ever Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities to address the disparity.
One of the positive side effects of the recent, rather dismal, report on Google’s diversity workforce data is the determination to see it as “a double dog dare” challenge. When PBS NewsHour alerted me in advance of the airing of the show, I leaped at the chance to jump into the fray. My thanks to PBS for providing a transcript for “Google’s diversity record shows women and minorities left behind.” Here are highlights from the PBS NewsHour conversation on the diversity of STEM nationally and how Chattanooga is responding to that challenge on a local level.
Most people don’t change, or willingly go along with change, because the change is “the right thing to do.” They do it if there is an important reason to change. Businesses don’t change their corporate cultures so that they retain women because doing so is nice for women. They do it if there is a compelling business reason to do so. The bottom line reasons to achieve gender diversity in leadership are exactly that—compelling.
Providing patient care without regard to race, ethnicity, gender, or religion is a core value of all medical professionals. However, do they extend the same level of tolerance, stand against prejudice, with other members of their profession?
Antonio Velásquez, my immigrant father, who came to this country (legally , you have to say that these days) with nothing, not knowing the language, serving this great country in the military and then eventually, with the GI bill, graduating from college (at age 32) recently passed away. My father lived to see me go to college and graduate, earning a BA and MBA from two great schools, and watched me marry a fabulous woman and have three wonderful children together and start my own firm – The Diversity Training Group. DTG has thrived for nearly 15 years.
Do we have to keep talking about this? Oh, a diversity workshop… why? You are ruining the workplace; we can’t have any fun anymore!” Have you heard these wonderful, welcoming, open, pro-learning comments lately? I had one participant (in front of all of his buddies) recently comment – “This session will probably be about the KKK, right?!” Another participant in the same session said – “This is going to be a total waste of time (in front of HR)!”