Posts tagged with democracy

Diversity Equals …

Posted on January 28, 2017 by Leave a comment

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Diversity Equals …

The first time that I saw a billboard with the message, “Diversity = White Genocide” I was honestly a bit confused.  After all, what most people call diversity (the inclusion of diverse people), is the opposite of genocide. Groups subjected to genocide historically include: Armenians, Jews, Cambodians, Rwandans, and Bosnians. Yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day. This matters because once we forget what happens when we exclude any group of people, we are destined to repeat the horrors of the holocaust and other shameful episodes of human history. “Genocide” is a combination of the Greek word génos (“race, people”) and the Latin suffix -cide (“act of killing”). The United Nations Genocide Convention defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”. Genocide conjures up the most horrific images and acts that humans perpetrate against ‘others,’ members of groups other than their own idea of their specific sub-set, whether race, religion, or tribe.

I have since learned that there is an entire movement, a growing movement, of people who claim that Anti-Racists are ‘Anti-White’.  Yes, that is an oxymoronic concept. In my blog post “What’s in a Word,” (December, 2013), http://www.inclusionstrategy.com/blog/?p=11 I wrote about the importance of vocabulary, the power of words to harm and to exclude. I will continue to posit that words and how they are used is a critical element of advancing equity and social justice. I must continue to use words to try to persuade those who are threatened by diversity and inclusion that we are really not so bad, those of us who work to bring humanity together, to find our common ‘touch points’ and share some love. Words are actions and our words can be loud and clear and true.

Truth

I must also continue to use words to state the truth. Racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, and Islamophobia all rely on distortions of the truth. Racists have embraced the false premise that they, based on a concept of what race is, are superior to others, hence the term ‘White-Supremacists’. Obviously, there is no single group or sub-set of human beings that is superior to any other sub-set, yet all we need to do is look at a chronological list of genocidal epochs to know that the lie of superiority over, or the fear of, others has resulted in the murder, rape, mutilation, imprisonment, and ‘bans on’ or exclusion of people for millennia. How do you ban an entire group of people? This is not only a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Charter of the United Nations, it violates several U.S. treaties, most notably the Treaty of Tripoli ratified unanimously in 1797 by the US Senate:

“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen (Muslims); and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan (Mohammedan) nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” (Art. 11.)

The truth can be distorted, ignored, and hidden. If it is raining, my saying that it is not raining is meaningless, as the apparent and obvious evidence of the falling rain dismisses my statement.  So, if someone or some group states that ‘diversity equals white genocide’, the absurdity of that statement is blatantly obvious. However, the groups promoting this concept are growing and the current President of the United States has re-tweeted messages by these groups. A search on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) website for ‘white genocide’ brought up 179 results. There have been many billboards since the first one appeared in Harrison, Arkansas in 2014.  These signs are not limited to the American south, but have also been put up in numerous locations from Washington State to Great Britain. People have come to Black Lives Matter rallies with ‘white genocide’ banners and they continue to appear at various events across the country.

Hate

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The Hate Index created by City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism‘s NYCity News Service has documented 318 hate crimes in the United States since January 10, 2017.   https://hateindex.com/  January 10 was only 18 days ago! In other words, we are averaging 17.6 hate crimes per day in the United States. That number includes only crimes that can be confirmed as hate crimes, not those where hatred based on the victims’ protected class status (race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or national origin, etc.), is the suspected motive for the act. The SPLC identifies 892 hate groups on its Hate Map: https://www.splcenter.org/hate-map. These numbers are staggering in comparison to 10 years ago.

The Uniform Crime Reporting program (1930), the Hate Crimes Statistics Act (1990), and the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, 2009 require data be collected on all crimes motivated by hate based on race, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and physical and mental disabilities.  The total crimes classified as Hate Crimes in 2009 was 688.3 (including murder, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, and vehicle theft) or 1.88 crimes per day.

Words are actions and words that are hateful incite actions that are dangerous and deadly.  Words matter. It is also vitally important to remember that not only are those who are from certain countries, or members of certain religions being targeted by those who hate, those who appear to be foreign or gay or Muslim or Jewish or different are also being targeted.

Call to Action

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So, why am I sharing this negative information?  My intention is not to add to the already overwhelmingly negative news updates that seem to come at an amazingly rapid rate. Nor is it my intention to provide a political commentary. My arena is inclusion, the inclusion of diverse people in organizations, such as our entire civilization, the quintessential organization of people. When the daily news updates increasingly include decisions, actions, words, and thoughts that exclude, divide, defame, or discriminate against human beings, it is my business.  Literally.

Many people have reached out to me in recent weeks and asked what I plan to do to help people and organizations to cope with so much divisiveness. Yesterday, someone reminded me that I need to be blogging every week and sharing a call to action. So, I will continue to do what it is that I do: to facilitate conversations intended to bring people together across their differences of opinion, to remind people that we all have a responsibility to advance inclusion, that we all have a great deal to lose if we isolate from others, that we all have SO much to gain when we are part of a diverse group of people – people from all parts of the globe, of all faiths, of all races, of all tribes. Diversity does not result in any type of –cide!  Inclusive diversity results in creativity, intellectual growth, innovation, and better health. Lewis Mumford referred to cities as utopias because of their diversity which encourages curiosity! “Urban life in Greece began as an animated conversation and degenerated into a crude agon or physical struggle.” (1961)

So, let’s talk. Let’s talk about fears of the other. Let’s talk about anger resulting from conflicting views and opinions.  Let’s talk about fear of change. Let’s have an animated conversation about our diversity. When we stop talking we resort to our primal or lizard-brained selves. When we stop talking, we lose our sense of connection and belonging to a tribe. We all belong to one tribe – the human tribe. There are hundreds of sub-sets; how can we decide which is better or worse?  All that we can hope to do is learn and grow as a result of our connections. The concept of divide and rule (or conquer) goes back to the Roman invasion of Macedonia. We are not the masters of ourselves if we give in to hate. Hate does not participate or converse or receive or learn – hate blocks information about ‘the other’. Enemies are regularly de-humanized to enable their haters to kill, maim and attack them. Hatred cannot coexist with appreciation of another person’s beauty, brilliance, talent, or generosity. Hatred can only scream “NO”!

To me, you – my fellow human beings – are beautiful and complicated and brilliant and diverse, and that makes life, not death, possible and wonderful.

Onward!

~ Wendy

P.S. If you are in the greater NYC area, let’s meet for a conversation. If not, let’s Skype or talk on the telephone, or at least email.

P.P.S. Next week I will share some other positive steps that we can take to protect human rights and each other from hate.

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I am Latino in America

Posted on June 8, 2016 by 1 Comment

“I Am Latino In America”

On Monday evening I had the great pleasure to attend “I Am Latino in America” at El Museo del Barrio here in NYC hosted by Soledad O’Brien. The event is part of an ongoing national tour with performances and conversations about being Latino in America with celebrities, national and local advocates, business leaders, and academics.

Learn More: http://www.iamlatinoinamerica.com/

Monday evening’s panelists included: Rosie Perez, Actor and Activist, Jose Calderon, President of the Hispanic Federation, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, President, National Education Association, Carmen Fariña, Chancellor, New York City Department of Education, Anna Maria Chavez, CEO of the Girls Scouts of America, and others.

Ms. O’Brien shared statistics on Latino-Americans ranging from voting trends to educational accomplishments. The presentations and conversations illustrated how diverse Latinos in America are and how rapidly we are changing as a constituency. Most of the speakers agreed that there is a general lack of representation of Latino interests even by Latino politicians.  Immigration was #5 on the list of political priorities among Latinos polled, but is the #1 issue discussed regarding Latinos on news/media programs. There seemed to be a general consensus among the speakers that without increased participation in the political process by Latinos, there would not be a change in this trend.

The value of this event is that there is an open dialogue from multiple perspectives and those perspectives, whether agreed with or not, are respected. Ms. Perez made a powerful point when referencing Latinos who, although in a qualified way, agreed to some extent with negative statements made about Mexicans. She cautioned those ready to endorse negative stereotypes that they could be the next target of slurs and insults.

I hope that Ms. O’Brien and Starfish Media Group continue and expand these events as it is vital to have a forum for open, honest dialogue among those who share an identity as complex as Latino in America. I propose that future events include examinations of the impact of the intersectionality of most Latinos. Many of us are Afro-Latino (Blatino), Hispanic-Asian, and White-Hispanic. Then, of course, there are differences with sexual orientation, gender identification, national origin, regional location, generation, class, education, etc.  In other words, our diversity is multi-dimensional, a concept that has been explored and discussed for decades, but can get lost among headlines and trends.

You Don’t Look Puerto Rican!

I certainly fit the title of intersectional as the daughter of a tri-racial Puerto Rican father and a mostly Irish-American mother. A native New Yorker who grew up in a public housing project, I am also a woman in my 50s with a graduate school education who has traveled the world, including spending a summer studying at Cambridge University in England.  So, what peg to fit me in?

Most of my life people respond uniformly when they learn of my ethnic background with: “You don’t look Puerto Rican!” To which I usually respond, “What does a Puerto Rican look like?”  As a descendant of a Caribbean Island populated by Tainos, (an Arawak tribal group) and the Caribs who invaded periodically for more than 800 years before the Spanish arrived; who were followed by other Europeans as well as the African slaves who those Europeans abducted to the Caribbean, I reflect my ancestral history. Based upon that history, what does a Puerto Rican look like?

I share my personal experience and a bit of Puerto Rican history with you because the conversation that is being facilitated by Soledad O’Brien, another half-Latina-Americana, and one who embodies intersectionality, is critical for all who have yet to understand that it is precisely the lack of communication that generates exclusion and reinforces discrimination and hate.

A Multi-Dimensional Conversation

I am in the people business.  My job is to engage people who are resistant to change and difference in conversations about those very subjects.  The most rewarding and affirming work that I do happens during training sessions when participants come up to me during breaks and tell me that they are pleasantly surprised that they are enjoying the experience – having fun, even!  Being able to share that ‘aha’ moment with people of all races and backgrounds when they realize that we all are diverse and can all benefit from inclusion, it is amazing! This is what inspires me to keep doing what I am doing, even on the most challenging of days.

Often, when examining the impact of our perceptions on our relationships at work and elsewhere, we discover that someone may have a Hispanic name, but not be Hispanic, (such as my sister-in-law, Julia Garcia or several of my Filipina friends).  Furthermore, someone might have a name like Wendy Willow Amengual Wark and be culturally more Puerto Rican than she is Irish.

So, what does it mean to be a Latino in America?  For me, it means belonging to a group, like other immigrant groups who were treated with disdain, hatred and abuse in the past and have reached a tipping point where we cannot necessarily be identified by our names or appearance as native born or immigrant, as legal or illegal, as a member of any particular racial group – in other words as very American!

Is your organization looking beyond appearance and listening for more than surnames in your search for inclusion?  If not, isn’t this a great time to begin a multi-dimensional conversation?

Please share your story and opinion on this subject as this blog post is part of that conversation.

Onward!

~ Wendy

Wendy in NOLA 10 2014

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Comfortable Diversity

Posted on January 19, 2015 by Leave a comment

Comfortable Diversity

I was once asked (directed) by a boss of mine not to use the words “race” or “gender” while facilitating diversity and inclusion education for the organization’s employees. The main reasons I was given for this approach were:

1. There are all types of diversity:  job title, geographic location, marital status, parental status, we don’t have to focus on the obvious differences.

2. According to Dr. R. Roosevelt Thomas (the late diversity scholar and author of Beyond Race and Gender: Unleashing the Power of Your Total Work Force by Managing Diversity; AMACOM, NY, NY. 1991.), “Employees differ not just on the basis of race, gender, and ethnicity, but also on a variety of other dimensions such as age, functional and educational backgrounds, tenure with the organization, lifestyles, and geographic origins, just to name a few.”  Dr. Thomas was absolutely right, but that does not mean that any dimension of diversity should be avoided when trying to create an inclusive environment.

3.  If the training focuses on race and gender, it might make our people uncomfortable.

I was also told, in other terms, that we were living in a post-racial society and that there was no reason to dredge-up the past and make people feel guilty about things that they could not control.

Today, as we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and contemplate his legacy and the history of race in our nation, it is impossible for me to understand the claim that we live in a post-racial society when there are so many racially based challenges that we face every single day.

No Pain No Gain

Many people have begun the New Year by trying to live healthier lives. They have started to exercise, possibly after a long period without doing so. If this is the case, underused muscles will be aching in response to the pressure to participate in this healthy activity. If one is out of shape and overdoes it, then it can become too painful to continue and make progress toward better health. (I will confess that as I write these words, more than a few of my neglected muscles are groaning in response to my recent attempts to include all of my interdependent parts in goal oriented exercising.)

To continue with the exercise metaphor, much of the diversity training of a few decades ago was also a bit painful because of neglect, particularly when trainers would overdo it. So, the tendency might be to cringe at the thought of working out when lingering pain from the last effort reminds us how uncomfortable exercise can be. This certainly makes sense. That is why it is wise to begin a regimen of exercising carefully, mindful of old injuries, weaknesses, and risks. While there is going to be some inevitable discomfort, it does not need to be debilitating.

Beyond Trends and Fads

Just as with zumba, and other forms of exercising, fads and trends come and go, but three basic methods remain at the core of a healthy physiological program: reaching a targeted heart rate for your age and condition (cardio or aerobics), stretching, and strength. Similarly, effective methods for reaching sustainable inclusion goals require energy, stretching one’s ability to communicate and connect, and improving an organization’s cultural strength, or interdependence. These may initially cause participants some discomfort, but with time they will grow and expand their capacity to be truly inclusive. Just as anyone beginning an exercise regimen is advised to see their doctor to make sure that they are not causing themselves any harm and if they can afford it, they should hire a professional trainer to guide them. Likewise, it is recommended that your organization reach out to an experienced guide before embarking on an inclusion campaign.

One Step at a Time

Just as we are advised to begin an exercise plan by walking – simply walking before we start running – I recommend that we begin by talking. Conversations that have the goal of creating empathy in spite of diversity can help us to acknowledge our common history and distinct positions. In other words, let’s not be polite; let’s have genuine conversations that result in real relationships. Conversations that are grounded in mutual respect and the understanding that every one of us has a unique perspective – a unique set of experiences – can result in sustainably inclusive relationships. Conversations that are facilitated in a safe environment where respect is the primary requirement can be the first steps that move our homes, our schools, our workplaces, our cities, and our nation in a direction of healing and sustainable or manageable health.

Setting Realistic Goals

Just as exercising and dieting goals need to be realistic and practical, inclusion goals, if they are to be sustainable, must also reflect our current state and condition regarding diversity and inclusion. That requires an honest assessment and a well thought out plan. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did not just show up in Selma, Alabama and expect racism or the denial of civil rights to end. He worked with others and developed a well-thought out plan and still met with incredible resistance before he and all of those who fought for our civil rights advanced that goal. That success enables and encourages all of us to continue to walk, to continue to strive to achieve our goals of inclusion, of equity, of humanity.

If you have not begun to advance your goals of inclusion, isn’t today a great time to begin?

Onward!

~ Wendy

Please let me know what you think!  wendy@inclusionstrategy.com

 

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Divided We Fall

Posted on December 2, 2014 by Leave a comment

Divided We Fall

As we watched the protesters make their way up Columbus Avenue, past our building on 95th Street, we realized that they had walked all the way from 14th Street and Union Square and were going to join those already gathered at 125th Street in Harlem. My heart both leaped and sank. My heart sank because the decision by the Grand Jury of Ferguson, MO not to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson of any wrong-doing in the matter of his shooting Michael Brown to death on August 9, 2014 had been announced earlier that evening. [For a timeline of events, see the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/11/09/us/10ferguson-michael-brown-shooting-grand-jury-darren-wilson.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=b-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news] You will be also able to find a great deal of legal analysis of this matter through a quick internet search.

So, why did my heart leap? My heart leapt because we have the freedom to protest an act that many people have determined to be an example of injustice based upon the circumstances of Michael Brown’s race. Petitions were distributed within minutes of the announcement and many individuals and organizations have expressed their commitment to continue to work toward improving our systems of justice and law enforcement.  This nation has been founded on the principal that we have certain inalienable rights, and since the passage of the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 19th Constitutional Amendments, http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_amendments_11-27.html  those rights have belonged to all U.S. Citizens. We have a legacy, in fact a responsibility to defend our rights and the rights of others, which is why we have a jury system, a jury of our peers, who hear arguments from both the prosecutor and defense attorney, is supposed  protect our rights under the law.

Barriers

When the decision was announced at approximately 9:30 EST on Monday, November 24, the internet lit up with millions of comments. People wrote of despair, heartbreak, rage, disappointment, disgust, and sadness. Others wrote hateful things, racists things, dividing things about those who grieved and mourned. Then, images began appearing of violence in Ferguson, MO. Images also appeared of peaceful protests in Ferguson and across the country; however, the predominant images posted by the media were of looting, burning, and violence. Let’s be very clear: violence solves nothing. Looting, burning of shops and destruction of property is worse than an exercise in futility – these actions result in raising barriers to inclusion and reinforcing the stereotypes held by many who do not understand the reasons for riots or even protests.

Individuals who believe that they are not represented by the justice system or their government may stop voting and if their frustration over their inability to effect change or achieve social justice reaches an extreme level, they will react not in a rational, ‘cool-headed’ way, but as a mob, pushed to mindless rage. There is not a specific cause and effect to riots. In other words, rioters or looters do not necessarily attack shops owned by people who treated them rudely or those with contents of the greatest value, there is just a need to vent. I experienced several riots in the 1960s first-hand and will never forget the enormity of the despair that consumed my community. The events of this past week have brought back those memories and feelings.

Haters ‘Gonna Hate

Since last Monday evening the twitter-sphere has been deluged by a steady stream of hate speech. I will not quote any of the comments here. I will state that although I have spent my life fighting hatred and have heard and read more racist comments than I care to count throughout my career and life, the sheer quantity and vitriolic intensity of many of the comments posted during the past eight days has shaken me. We do NOT live in a post-racial society. Racism is as prevalent today as it was in 1865. Yet, most people are fairly polite when they meet other people, in person, who are different from themselves. But if the numbers of comments on the internet in response to the events in Ferguson are any indication, we need to pay close attention to the reality that many people who are not discussing ‘the Ferguson matter’ at work, have very strong thoughts and feelings about this matter, which they are expressing elsewhere.

Some insight is offered by “The Whiteness Project,” being produced by PBS Video. This is “an interactive investigation into how Americans who identify as “white” experience their ethnicity.” http://video.pbs.org/video/2365320408/  The comments made by several of the participants indicate a profound lack of connection with or empathy for African Americans or their experiences. They also exemplify our nation’s deep polarity along racial lines which appears to be increasing rather than diminishing.  [This project certainly warrants an entire blog post, but as it is relevant to this topic it is included here.]

Can We Talk?

We need to address the responses to the reactions to the announcement in Ferguson, MO by creating a forum for productive dialogue. This dialogue needs to be based on the desire to experience empathy. It is only through empathy that we can begin to understand behavior or feelings that seem foreign or unacceptable to us.

It is with this in mind that I am making the following request:  How do you think you would feel if you were an 18 year old African American man living in the United States of America right now, observing all of the news, media and internet commentary regarding the events in Ferguson, MO?

Please, think this through very carefully before responding. As you try to walk in this person’s shoes, remember that the exercise is not based upon fashion or wardrobe choices, vocation, educational status, profession, religion, political affiliation, class, region, whether one was raised in a home with two loving, supporting parents or by a single parent, this has only to do with the circumstances of one’s birth – to be born as an African American male in the United States of America in 1996.  Can you imagine how you might feel during this past week reading all of the headlines on “the Ferguson matter”? [If you are, or ever have been, an 18 year old African American man, please share your comments as well!]

Please send me your comments and – for the love of our country – let’s not be polite! Let’s start to talk about race honestly, openly, respectfully, and with the intent to work on healing a nation that has been poisoned by racism since long before it was a nation.

If you have not asked yourself questions like this before, isn’t this the time to begin?

Onward!

~ Wendy

wendy@inclusionstrategy.com

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Can Plug and Play Diversity Work?

Posted on November 11, 2014 by Leave a comment

Today NPR posted an interview with Tristan Walker, Founder and CEO of Walker and Company Brands and the non-profit, CODE2040 and J.J. McCorvey, author and Associate Editor for Fast Company, on how Mr. Walker is working to increase diversity, specifically representation of Blacks and Latinos in Silicon Valley and high tech.   http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/11/11/363012130/tech-star-wants-to-make-diversity-plug-and-play-for-silicon-valley  Mr. Walker has earned kudos for investing in efforts aimed at resolving the demographic gap (based on race and ethnicity), in high tech through his non-profit organization.  CODE2040 addresses the issues of effective recruitment, access and networking, and the preparedness of graduates to successfully interview and get hired.  Through his substantial influence as a highly visible and powerful CEO in Silicon Valley, Mr. Walker has been able to encourage large high tech companies to both donate to his non-profit and participate in CODE2040’s fellowship program and other initiatives.  http://code2040.org/  These efforts should create a noticeable shift in both demographics and the success of people of color working in Silicon Valley if they are sustained.

Is Silicon Valley Ready for Diversity?

While Mr. Walker and others prepare potential employees to successfully enter and navigate the high tech world, I propose that we need an equally concerted effort to prepare the current leaders of the high tech world to successfully evolve into inclusive leaders.  I have seen well-intentioned and deeply resourced efforts to ‘diversify’ an organization’s workforce fail miserably because the focus was on numbers, not relationships.  I posit that most of the new job candidates who are fortunate enough to be participants in programs such as CODE2040’s will be quite adept at making the cultural observations that are a necessary element of a successful career.  Those of us who have occupied the role of ‘the other’ in society learn at an early age to observe and understand the nuances of the dominant (white, heterosexual, male, Christian), culture as a survival tool.  Those in dominant roles rarely pay serious attention to the subtle social cues of the ‘minority’ cultures around them.  I have conducted hundreds of interviews with individuals whose intent was never to discriminate, but whose actions (yes, words count as actions), had the impact of discriminating against others. In the incredibly speedy world of high tech, people want a quick fix for problems. My programming friends might be called upon to develop a ‘patch’ to keep things going while a long-term or permanent solution to a problem is developed.  The impact of thousands of years of discrimination, which is hardly limited to Silicon Valley or high tech fields, will not be resolved with a patch, however. Solutions need to be implemented that are strategic, practical, and sustainable.
[See my blog post from September 2013 “There is NOT an App for That!” http://www.inclusionstrategy.com/blog/?p=15 ]

What to Do?

While the future leaders of Silicon Valley are still in their first and second year as undergraduates, the leaders of Silicon Valley need to prepare themselves for the cultural changes that they organizations will need to go through when those students graduate and enter the workforce. Highly developed cultural competency will become a survival tool for all leaders, regardless of industry, sector or mission.  (Think of butterflies.) The leaders of Silicon Valley may be brilliant in their respective fields, but how many of them have an expertise in diversity and inclusion?  Just as a company might outsource specific technical needs, I recommend that experts in this complex field of diversity and inclusion be brought in to help you to increase an organization’s collective cultural competency.

If you are not ready to have real, interdependent, productive relationships with a diverse range of people, isn’t this a great time to prepare?

Onward!

~ Wendy

Please let me know what you think in the comment section below or email me: wendy@inclusionstrategy.com

Please follow us on Twitter for more frequent observations and information. twitter-bird-blue-on-white

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Representation At All Tables ~ Webcast ~ 22 October

Posted on October 20, 2014 by Leave a comment

Join us this Women’s Equality Wednesday

22 October 2014 @1:00-1:30 pm est

For Our Free Live Webcast ~ “REPRESENTATION AT ALL TABLES”

Watch: http://bit.ly/RepLIVE

NYS PowerHER List Wendy 2014

DESCRIPTION: At the current rate, parity in women’s leadership will be reached in the United States in 2085! Whether it’s politics, finance, entertainment, or the military, few women have a seat at
the decision making table. NYS PowHER’s panel will explore why and how to change the playing field, culture and ourselves.

PANELISTS:

Wendy Amengual Wark – Founder, Inclusion Strategy

Tiffany Dufu – Chief Leadership Officer, Levo League & Launch Team member, Lean In
Levo League @levoleague

Mecca Santana – New York State Chief Diversity Officer
Chief Diversity Officer, New York State @MeccaSantanaCDO

Serena Fong – Vice President, Government Affairs, Catalyst
Catalyst @CatalystInc

THE FACTS

Benchmarking Women’s Leadership Report compares fourteen job sectors. Bottom line, although outperforming men, women still do not have parity in salaries and leadership positions. Some examples:

Academia. Women win more than 55% of the most prestigious awards despite only holding 29% of tenured positions.

Law. Women were 47% of the graduates, yet only 15% of equity partners and 5% of managing partners in 2012.

Business. Women held 51% of professional and managerial positions but only 15% of executive positions and 13% of board of director seats in Fortune 500 companies in 2013.

Politics and government. Women hold 18 percent of seats in the 2013 Congress, cosponsor more bills, and bring in  more federal spending to their districts. Similar to other states, the NYS legislature is only 22% female. More

Catalyst research connects gender diversity and financial performance and builds the business case that Diversity Matters. Yet U.S. businesses are slow to embrace needed change or initiatives like the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles “Equality Means Business.”

 U.S. Women in Business

What is NYS PowHer?

We are a network of individuals and organizations coming together to accelerate economic fairness for New York women. Our backgrounds, jobs, economic status, age, and religions may be different, but we all agree that women deserve and need a level playing field.  Some of us are long-time advocates and others new to the conversation, but we find common cause as a community: learning together, sharing information and actions, and generating PowHer to create a new reality for 10 million New York women and their families.

What is our mission?

NYS PowHer is building a broad, diverse, statewide collective effort to improve the economic outlook for New York women by addressing keys obstacles, promoting winning strategies, and educating and activating the public.

How do we get there? To tackle this, we will activate P-O-W-H-E-R:

Poverty Solutions

Opportunity and Access

Workplace Fairness

Healthy Family Life

Equal Pay

Representation at all Tables

What will NYS PowHer do?

We will amplify the amazing efforts already in full swing around New York State, like the Time to Care campaign and the Women’s Equality Agenda.

We will shake things up by sharing new ideas and approaches, encouraging meaningful action, and energizing the conversation.

We will take the lead on issues where good work needs to be done.

We will inform our community in real time with social media, share the excellent resources out there, and sponsor opportunities to learn together, like conversations with leaders and webinars.

We will include you to participate in any way you can and listen to your ideas and viewpoint.

For More Information:

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Onward!

~ Wendy

Let me know what you think!
Email me:  wendy@inclusionstrategy.com ~ www.inclusionstrategy.com

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Stealth Inclusion Explained

Posted on October 17, 2014 by Leave a comment

Stealth Inclusion Explained

When I developed the concept of ‘stealth inclusion’ it was (and is) intended to help those in the C-suite who resist diversity efforts and whose approval and support every successful diversity and inclusion effort requires, to participate in educational sessions where they can personally experience transformation.  Often, members of the C-suite are white, heterosexual, affluent, educated, and male and so; this methodology particularly pertains to those among their ranks who are uncomfortable around issues of diversity and inclusion.  Through interactive exercises designed to facilitate increased self-awareness and empathy, participants’ resistance to the concept of diversity and inclusion is diminished.  It is as a result of the transformative process that we are able to create change in the workplace and our society as a whole.

Every successful leader needs excellent communication skills and a highly developed self-awareness. These competencies have elements of diversity and inclusion woven through them.  One way that those who resist inclusion have been able to undermine its advancement is by stigmatizing and minimizing diversity and inclusion programs, including the terminology used in those programs.  I posit that we need to have diversity and inclusion education as part of all leadership development initiatives, even if that education goes by a different name. Hence, the content for an educational session on effective leadership would necessarily include interactive exercises on the challenges of overcoming barriers to inclusion.

As I am sure you are aware, these are complex subjects and as such need to be handled with sensitivity and care. The ability to successfully facilitate these educational sessions (I do not refer to them as training as we are not training participants in a skill, such as how-to operate a cell phone), is predicated on highly developed competencies in the areas of adult education, E.E.O., and diversity and inclusion.

I have facilitated hundreds of these sessions with consistent success, often as the result of clients asking me to attempt to repair damage rendered by possibly well-intentioned consultants who did not have the requisite competencies, skills and experience.  Diversity and inclusion practitioners may each have different approaches to the work that we do and certainly should have different perspective, but we all need to insist that the caliber and standard of our work is impeccable.  This is one way that we can overcome some of the resistance to the work that we do. Another is to understand who it is that we critically need to reach if we hope to create sustainable change and how to best do so.  It is in this light that I developed the concept of ‘Stealth Inclusion.’

Onward!

~ Wendy

Please let me know what you think in the comment section below or email me: wendy@inclusionstrategy.com
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You Don’t Always Get What You Pay For! [Part I]

Posted on September 29, 2014 by Leave a comment

HHC Diverse group of people nationalorigingroupRecently, there have been a plethora of scandals concerning domestic violence, discrimination, and sexual harassment in the news.  Each of these disturbing events seem to elicit responses by self-proclaimed ‘experts’ purporting to know how to solve problems of inequity and discrimination. This has led me to ask the question:  If you have a tooth ache, do you tie a string around that tooth and tie the other end to a door knob and slam the door?  NO! Do you go to a chiropractor or a cardiologist to have the tooth removed? NO! You go to someone who you are sure is an expert. You go to a licensed dentist. When it comes to EEO or diversity or inclusion (D&I), knowing who is really an expert is not as simple as going to Healthgrades.com and looking up a dentist’s education and licenses before getting that tooth pulled.

D&I/EEO is a multidisciplinary field with a few distinct points of entry such as employment law, human resources, and organizational psychology. The recent trend, however, is that people with degrees and experience in sales, marketing, communication, etc. are jumping on the D&I band wagon as the demand for diversity training increases. This is a perturbing development. In some cases, people are asked to become an organization’s diversity officer based on their being a member of a protected class: they may be people of color or women or members of the LGBT community or be differently-abled. They may be highly competent in the field in which they have spent their careers, but that does not make them experts in the complex field of diversity and inclusion.

Bona Fides

My professional experience in Equal Employment Opportunity began in 1988. In addition to my undergraduate and graduate education, I received formal training at Cornell’s School of International Labor Relations and in courses provided by the City of New York’s Department of Personnel in:

  • conducting investigations of discrimination
  • compiling and interpreting demographic statistics
  • preparing affirmative action reports
  • conflict resolution and mediation
  • developing strategies to overcome historic perpetuation of discriminatory practices
  • developing and facilitating adult education in EEO, Sexual Harassment Prevention, D&I, etc.

It took years of on-the-job experience augmented by this training before I was qualified to call myself an expert in my field.

Fake it ‘til You Make It!

Unfortunately, there are individuals who are willing to ‘stretch the truth’ and claim to have the requisite competencies and skills to create D&I strategies, education and initiatives.  They may even believe that they have those competencies or that their area of expertise is so similar to D&I that they can ‘fake it ‘til they make it.’ Some of this is due to ‘coaches’ and self-help ‘gurus’ who are telling people that faking it is o-k even admirable, as it will advance their careers.  I vehemently disagree!

When Passion Meets Purpose

I have been passionate about creating inclusion for as long as I can remember.  As both a woman and   person of mixed culture (my father was Puerto Rican and my mother was of Northern European descent), I have personally experienced discrimination and sexual harassment.  I have also been defending those unable to defend themselves since the 1960s in the schoolyard of my elementary school in Astoria, NYC.  Individuals with a true passion to end discrimination and increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace should get the specific education and experience that will qualify them as experts in this field. Those who do not bother to get their credentials can cause real damage to the employees who are in need of help and organizations that strive to become inclusive.  I have been asked to repair some of this damage by more than one of my clients, and it is the most challenging work that I do.

To be continued…

Most people do not know what questions to ask potential consultants or employees for D&I engagements. I will address this in Part II.

Have you been asking what makes a D&I expert an expert? If not, isn’t it a great time to begin doing so?

Onward!

~ Wendy

Please let me know what you think in the comment section below or email me: wendy@inclusionstrategy.com
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Survey Says…

Posted on September 15, 2014 by Leave a comment

Years ago I worked for an employer who would not approve of administering an employee survey because the president was afraid of what the employees would say – especially about discrimination – and did not believe that the organization could commit to responding effectively to employee concerns, criticisms, or recommendations.  Do you know what your employees are thinking and saying about you and your organization?

You may not be asking them what they think, but your employees are sharing their thoughts and experiences on internet sites such as facebook’s Rate My Employer: https://www.facebook.com/RateMyEmployer and Glassdoor http://www.glassdoor.com.

Scrooge and Crachitt credit-Mary-Evans

Scrooge and Crachit
Illustration, Mary Evans

Here is a small sampling of anonymous comments on the internet about employers who allow bullying by supervisors:

“My manager is out of control, employees fear him and no one feels that the company or HR would do anything.”

“HR is not there for the employee, but rather to shelter abusive managers.”

“My supervisor uses intimidation and bullying to try and meet his objectives. I have been subjected to sexism, racism…”

In earlier blog posts I have discussed the importance of asking people about themselves, their cultures and preferences. I also urge employers to conduct surveys.  Surveys are amazing tools that employers can use to determine how engaged and included employees feel, when used effectively! Here are some critical questions that need to be asked and honestly addressed before implementing an employee survey:

  • Are employees assured that their responses are really anonymous?
  • Are employees really protected from repercussions by supervisors?
  • Will the survey results be shared with all employees?
  • Will employee recommendations be considered or implemented? If so, will employees get credit for those recommendations?

Similar to conducting 360-degree feedback of executives, employee surveys sometimes provide information that employers may not think they are ready to deal with.  Frequently this results from not having guidance on how to effectively interpret and respond to the employees comments.

The leadership team of one client was genuinely surprised to learn that the support staff almost unanimously felt that they did not have opportunities for advancement.  This particular group of employees was 90% female, 75% minority, and 40% LGBT. The information that was collected through the survey and interviews enabled my client to address this and other issues and to create an employee development plan.  We also provided leadership and communication training for the support staff as part of the plan. The result:  employee engagement and productivity increased dramatically!

There are many benefits to be gained by conducting employee surveys including determining how effective supervisors are.  Many employers focus on results – the ‘by any means necessary’ approach to supervision.  This is a risky tactic as the short-term results of a bullying supervisor may be impressive, but what is the long-term impact of a supervisor who may be bullying team members to get them to produce?

Some results of a bullying culture:

  • Low morale
  • High turn-over
  • Active disengagement
  • Sabotage

I have written about those who find it difficult to speak up and ask questions based on their cultural perspective in earlier blog posts. It is even harder for those individuals to stand up to a supervisor who is a bully.  An anonymous employee survey that is administered correctly: off-site, outside of the employer’s computer network, by an independent consultant (I know that this sounds like a sales pitch, but it is not), and includes a sampling of employee interviews, can save employers tremendous risk and exposure.  Employees who are empowered to contribute their diverse ideas and perspectives to an organization’s success do so in incredible ways!

Are you conducting all-employee surveys on a regular basis?  If not, isn’t this a great time to begin?

Onward!

~ Wendy

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What’s In A Word?

Posted on December 11, 2013 by 5 Comments


“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.”
My mother, like many mothers of children who were ostracized and tormented for being different, used this expression to assuage us – to no avail.  We still got into physical fights with the kids in our building who called us the S-word and other Hate Words because our father was Puerto Rican.
One hundred years earlier, in March of 1862 the phrase was cited in “The Christian Recorder” of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, (Which was first published in New York City in 1852).
“Remember the old adage, ‘Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me’. True courage consists in doing what is right, despite the jeers and sneers of our companions.” [http://www.phrases.org.uk/]
There are too many commonly used Hate-Words:  African Americans are called the N-word, Italian Americans, the W-word, Chinese Americans, the C-word, Vietnamese Americans, the G-word and many more than I care to list in this short blog entry. (If you need me to spell-out or explain any of the phrases listed above please email me.)
In the 1980s, when I first began to develop sexual harassment prevention education, I cautioned participants that words are actions and may lead to an escalation of inappropriate and illegal behavior from verbal to physical if not addressed by someone in authority. Bullying of any kind must be dealt with directly by teachers, supervisors and CEOs.
The R-Word

Cody Blackbird
This sign appeared this morning (12/08/13)
outside a Sonic Drive-In Restaurant in Belton, Missouri.
Read more at  Indian Country Today

I have long been deeply perturbed by the usage of the derogatory R-word as the name of an American football team based in our nation’s capital. The team that was originally the Boston Braves when it was established in 1932, became the Boston Redskins a year later (1933–1936), then moved to Washington D.C. in 1937 where they still go by that same offensive name.
Perhaps not coincidental to the name is the fact that in 1962, Washington was the last American football team to integrate racially and they did so only after the federal government threatened to sue the owners as D.C. stadium, where they played at the time, was U.S. property and so segregation was illegal there. 
I strongly urge everyone to stop using the R-word entirely.
The K-Word:
Etymonline.com  provides the history of another insidious hate word:
“1790, from Arabic kafir “unbeliever, infidel, impious wretch,” with a literal sense of “one who does not admit the blessings of God,” from kafara “to cover up, conceal, deny, blot out.” Technically, “non-Muslim,” but in Ottoman times it came to be used almost exclusively for “Christian.” Early English missionaries used it as an equivalent of “heathen” to refer to Bantus in South Africa (1792), from which use it came generally to mean “South African black” regardless of ethnicity [African or Indian], and to be a term of abuse since at least 1934.” 
How many times did Nelson Mandela hear the K-word used as a weapon against himself and others?  How many times did he have to rise above unimaginable abuse to move from victim to victor, from one of many of the oppressed to a global symbol for freedom and human rights?
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
Nelson Mandela
 

World Human Rights Day

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948 as a result of the atrocities committed during the Second World War.The Commission on Human Rights was made up of 18 members from various political, cultural and religious backgrounds. Eleanor Roosevelt, widow of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, chaired the UDHR drafting committee.
Universal Values
The core principles of human rights first set out in the UDHR are universality, interdependence and indivisibility, equality and non-discrimination.  The Declaration begins:
“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,”
What’s In A Word?
Native American tribal leaders have been appealing to the owners of the football team with the racist and derogatory name in an attempt to get them to change the team’s name by offering alternative names.  Their appeals continue to fall on deaf ears. What words do the owners need to hear to understand how the R-word is an assault not only on Native Americans, but on all of us who value people’s inherent dignity?
Nelson Mandela did not transform South Africa from a nation crippled by Apartheid to a democracy for all of its citizens alone.  He did not employ violence to achieve this lofty goal.  He used words and his incredible capacity to listen – to the oppressed as well as their oppressors.  In order for Nelson Mandela to talk to others in their language he had to learn their language by listening.  Once he mastered that language he was able to use it to effectively dismantle a hateful and criminal system.
To move from hatred to recognizing our shared humanity – to move from Hate-words to a humanitarian language – is a lofty goal.  It is incredibly fortunate for all of us that we have had role models such as former President Nelson Mandela to remind us that, however lofty they may be, our goals are achievable if we are optimistic enough to believe in them.  Words can be transformed from weapons to tools for learning about and loving one another.  This fairly simple concept is at the core of the work to create and sustain inclusive environments, work places, communities, and nations.
It is critical that we engage in conversations that may initially be uncomfortable, but in the long term can help us to understand how we have much more in common with one another than we think.  It is fitting that on World Human Rights Day tens of thousands of people, including leaders from around the world gathered to honor and celebrate the life of one of our greatest humanitarians, Nelson Mandela.  
Onward,
~ Wendy

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