How can an organization effectively manage diversity? How does this apply to an organization you know well? Consider the various concepts discussed within the chapter when developing this response. Also, I am looking for unique solutions for the difficult problems encountered.
I think at one point or another we’ve all felt discriminated against, to young, too old, not well dressed enough, what’s with the facial hair, etc… These prejudices maybe are not as caustic or polarizing as discriminatory issues associated with race, color, creed, national origin, ancestry, gender or sexual orientation but in my experience, there is no shortage of stereotyping in humanity and as the text states it’s these predispositions that fuel workplace discrimination.
My company mandates training for diversity and other associated topics. Just yesterday I received my annual invite to “Preventing Workplace Harassment Training” hosted by emtrain (https://emtrain.com/about). I love this training, complete with a warning system that resembles the color-coded terrorism threat advisory system devised by the Homeland Security Agency, and the vignettes that seem so preposterous. Then, of course, we hear stories about people like Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose and we realize that the vignettes are actually pretty pedestrian in comparison to reality. Training is one way that my organization and other organizations work to manage diversity. My company and the HR department is also big on Emotional Intelligence, developing Emotional Intelligence can help us to be more aware, understand how what we say and do might be perceived, how our position within an organization can impact perceived intent, etc… Sure there are clear areas of discrimination which are binary, but often intent plays a big role where things aren’t so binary, self-awareness can help us better understand how our intent might be perceived. Tools like 360-degree assessments (aka reviews) can help us better understand our behaviors and how we are perceived, this candid feedback can help us become better leaders and people.
I tend to be a very direct person, but not everyone responds well to my direct approach. I am lucky to work in an environment which is very diverse, I enjoy differing perspectives, but I have a low tolerance for workplace politics. For years I had a general refusal to help subordinate peers work through their issues with each other, I would provide wise words like “you two need to work this $%#^ out because it has no place in the workplace”, yeah, that never really worked out all that well. 🙂 About four years ago we hired a new VP or HR who became active in the day to day operations; this was really helpful for me, I was now able to talk through issues with this person, and they would provide sound objective advice on how to best handle the situation. As an engineer, and not someone who sees focuses on the difference between people, instead focusing on what they have to offer, I did realize that I wasn’t taking the time to understand others and as a leader, this could be perceived as discriminatory.
When I read about things like wage inequality based on sexual orientation (Ozeren, 2014, p. 5) or flat out disqualifying someone based on sexual orientation (Ozeren, 2014, p. 6) it seems mind-boggling to me personally, but we are culturally polarized on this topic like so many other topics, so objectively speaking the facts are not all that surprising.
One thing I started doing a couple of years ago was using an online tool called text.io to write my job descriptions to improve the diversity of applicants and to ensure that I am using words, phrases, and tone that allows me to recruit the best and brightest candidates. text.io leverages big data, machine learning, and natural language processing to analyze and compare job listings with other companies competing for same diverse and talented individuals.
The World Is Flat (great book by Thomas L. Friedman by the way, I highly recommend it), and we live in a global economy; in my opinion diversity should no longer a have to be driven by mandates (e.g – EOE and AAP), because it’s the fuel by which companies will grow in the future. Sadly we still need programs like EOE and AA, but I am hopeful that one-day humanity will transcend race, creed, color, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, etc… and allow us to realize Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream fully.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Much progress has been made since Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail written on April 16, 1963, and the “I Have A Dream” address he delivered in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963, but there is more work to be done. The more diverse our subcultures become, the more diverse our culture becomes.
Boyatzis, D. G. (2017, December 05). Emotional Intelligence Has 12 Elements. Which Do You Need to Work On? Retrieved March 09, 2018, from https://hbr.org/2017/02/emotional-intelligence-has-12-elements-which-do-you-need-to-work-on
Ozeren, E. (2014). Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Workplace: A Systematic Review of Literature. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 109, 1203-1215. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.12.613
Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. (2018). Essentials of organizational behavior. New York, NY: Pearson.
Scott, love the reference to “Full Metal Jacket”. I’ll admit I’ve known a few people over the years who may have benefitted from a bar of soap and sock. In all seriousness what happen to Private Leonard Lawrence better known as “Private Pyle” in the film shows the danger of groupthink in a caustic culture. Was everyone with a bar of soap in a sock a bad person? Did Pfc. Louden Downey and Lance Cpl. Harold Dawson wants to carry out the code red on Pfc. William Santiago? See how I switched films on you there but stayed with the theme. 🙂 While I think that training is critical, leadership is probably the most glaring problem in both of these cases and in most cases where discrimination and harassment are pervasive. Sure we could say the leaders weren’t properly trained, but they should be the trainers, and of course, the trainers need to be trained but they are in leadership positions personally I expect more. Then again I find myself let down often by my expectations.
Tsai, Y. (2011). Relationship between Organizational Culture, Leadership Behavior and Job Satisfaction. BMC Health Services Research, 11(1). doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-98
Steve, I agree with Scott regarding training, but my question is when does the training begin. I propose it starts much earlier than when an individual enters the workforce and is subjected to organizational diversity training. The muscle memory created when I minds are most malleable will likely persist for a long, long time and while these predispositions can be masked the judging and stereotyping that lies beneath the social facade continues to fuel discriminatory behavior.
I read these two articles recently:
- Sheryl Sandberg has a plan for the 50% of male managers afraid to mentor women
- Since #MeToo, the Number of Men Who Are Uncomfortable Mentoring Women Has Tripled
The situations Sheryl Sandberg outline is very real, dangerous and disturbing. We have to start aggressively training humanity, these are problems that end up in organizations, but I don’t believe they originate there, nor do I believe they can be rectified there.