I am occasionally asked by organizational leaders, “What should I do?” in response to societal issues involving bias and racism. Questions like, “What should I say?” or “How can I help?” come from compassionate well-meaning leaders and colleagues who sincerely want to know what to do.
WITH DEBORAH BIDDLE — A BLOG FOR DIVERSE BUSINESS ENTERPRISES IN AND AROUND MADISON.
You’ve probably heard someone ask, “Why should I care about workplace diversity when the government has already taken care of it with the Equal Employment Opportunity Act?” or “Why do we need diversity when we have affirmative action?”
According to Derald Wing Sue, PhD, of Columbia University, “Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”
For at least 20 years, labor bureaus, demographers, census researchers, and statisticians have predicted the rise in population diversity and its impact on the workplace. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, proactive companies have already begun working toward diversifying their teams.
With the recent news of allegations, convictions, and the continued spotlight or sexual harassment, many companies are closely examining their work cultures, reiterating and reinforcing policy, and requiring organization-wide training.
As leaders, we often say we support diversity and inclusion within our organizations. We create core values espousing these beliefs. So, it is our job to be sure that our actions and our words are in line with these stated values.
The region’s workforce is 15.1% people of color, with 6.4% and 6.3% being Latino and African-American respectively, as well as a gender split of 46.7% female and 53.3% male. Based on this, it would seem that there might be some truth to the notion that it is difficult to find diversity.
I trained a group of leaders last week on improving work relationships and company culture by conquering hidden bias. During the workshop, we had a tangential discussion about generational differences in the workplace.
Fresh off a morning radio appearance where she spoke to listeners about manifesting their destiny and living their purpose, Sabrina Madison explained that she works hard in support of black women because she is “really, really driven by wanting black women to be better. To be more whole. To be more able to accomplish their goals.”
As in many cities throughout our country, conversation and actions have been taken with the goal of increasing diversity in performing arts, particularly in engaging people of color to partake of and participate in events presented within their communities.