Tag Archives: diversity council

Stealth Inclusion Explained

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

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Stealth Inclusion

By Any Other Name

It has become increasingly clear to me that there is a growing resistance to diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace as incidents of blatant racism, sexism and really all ‘isms’ seem to be on the rise.  I cannot definitively assert that there is a direct correlation between these two trends, but I believe that there is.  So, I have developed a concept called “Stealth Inclusion.”  Stealth Inclusion is a way to create inclusion in organizations by helping executives who may not necessarily acknowledge that they need help, to solve organizational problems.  This is particularly necessary where ‘exclusive’ cultures result in negative conditions, such as: employee turnover, disengagement, sabotage, diminished market share, poor or damaged public image, etc.

In Act II, Scene II of “Romeo and Juliet,” Juliet says the following to Romeo, in response to his concerns over their belonging to feuding families:

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose   yellow rose
By any other name would smell as sweet
;”

So, what if we don’t call diversity and inclusion initiatives by their name, but use other names? What if we call our strategies, strategies for success, instead of inclusion strategies and our assessments, corporate assessments, instead of cultural assessments?  What if we use different or diverse words to describe what it is that we do and why it is that we do it?

By Any Means Necessary

In 1963 Jean-Paul Sartre wrote the words “by any means necessary” regarding class struggle, in his play Dirty Hands. The phrase was made famous by Malcolm X a year later and became a metaphor for justifying violence to overcome oppression. (Which I certainly am not advocating!)  What I am encouraging is that we find different ways to accomplish our missions. Is your organization behaving in a healthy way?  (See my 2007 article, “The Evolution of Inclusion,” where I discuss organizations as organisms (Posted in my blog in January 2014)).  Do the members of your organization:

a.) Know what your organizational mission is?
b.) Feel invited to contribute to the success of that mission?

If people are being excluded at your organization because of where or when they were born, how they worship, what they look like, how they identify, or any other distinction, you have a problem that needs a solution – a real, sustainable solution.  You do not need buzz words, or pot luck luncheons, or awards programs – you need effective strategies that can help you to cross the complex chasms that separate you from achieving your goals and getting that mission accomplished!

Mission + Strategy = Success Great_cormorant_flock

What motivates the people around you?  What really gets people excited enough to jump out of bed when it is still dark out and stay at the office past sunset?  Being part of a mission matters to you and to everyone else!  Being INCLUDED is what excites all of us!  Being invited to help, create, innovate, achieve, and win!  Not everyone can invite themselves to the party, many people need to be asked, many people come from places where there are different rules and customs about participation.

Excellent leaders learn about those different customs and learn how to invite and organize participation. Even when people have a common mission and are as motivated as the people were who filled Tahrir Square in Cairo in 2011, an effective, sustainable strategy must be implemented in order for success to occur.  That requires experienced and competent leadership: leaders who are flexible and open to learning and finding new ways to achieve their goals when old ways fail. So, if we do not call it ‘Diversity Training’, but ‘Effective Communication’ and ‘Successful Leadership, does it really matter?  [Note:  This does not mean that I am changing the name of the company!] The most effective leaders know what they don’t know and bring in subject matter experts to provide the knowledge and competencies that they lack.  Hence, part of a great strategy is having the right team members.

Mission Accomplished!

What is your goal?  What is your personal mission?  I have shared mine with you before: To make manifest the value of all people. Sounds simple, no? Well, it is not simple, it is complicated and takes real knowledge and competency and care and skill and passion and yes, sometimes, it takes Stealth Inclusion!

If you are not overcoming the barriers to inclusion at your organization, isn’t it about time that you do?

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 II]

Why do you need a D&I expert in the first place?

Before beginning a search for a D&I / EEO expert to join or support your organization you should ask the following questions:

  1. What are our D&I / EEO goals?
  2. What resulted from our previous D&I efforts?
  3. Do we think that we need a full time staff person to take on our D&I/EEO Goals or can an outside consultant sufficiently support our needs?
  4. Do we know the difference between D&I and HR?

How do you know when someone is a qualified D&I professional?

Great at self-promotion!

Some people are great at telling you how great they are.  As I noted in Part I, some people are happy to ‘fake it ‘til they make it’, so you need to find out how great they are in others ways.

  1. Checking references is a good way to begin.  Verifying someone’s track record may seem obvious or simple, but references are rarely checked.  Often the recipient thinks, “They gave me the references, so they must be good!”  Recently, I checked someone’s references and two of the telephone numbers were disconnected and no one answered the third.  Obviously, I did not go with that person. 
  2. Ask for examples of how they have  personally and specifically:
    1. Increased diversity and inclusion at an organization;
    2.  Diminished discriminatory behavior;
    3. Supported the mission and vision of an organization through D&I strategies
    4. Measured the results of their efforts

Individuals who have been doing D&I/EEO work successfully for any period of time should be able to share multiple examples of their successful endeavors.  You should also ask them about failures.  If someone is hesitant to provide you with examples on the spot, beware. 

A Multidisciplinary Field

Since D&I is multi-disciplinary, practitioners may have bachelor’s degrees in various fields of study, including: Human Resources Management, Business Management, Public Administration, Organizational Development, or as in my case, American Studies, an interdisciplinary degree. Also, graduate degrees such as in Law (Juris Doctor), and a wide range of human relations fields are appropriate. Many practitioners, who have not gone to graduate school, have been grandmothered-in by engaging in ongoing professional development and obtaining certifications at institutions such as, Cornell University. I recommend that you be prepared to examine the skills and competencies that individuals have developed and how they have applied those skills and competencies in the past.  Facilitating a 60 minute webinar is not the same as developing and facilitating a 5 day workshop on inclusive leadership. So, a resume or bio with “Training” as a bulleted item does not provide sufficient information.  Ask for details.

When Passion Meets Purpose

Passion alone does not qualify anyone to as a D&I practitioner, but being very passionate about it is one of the requisites for success.  Ask potential consultants or employees why they are in this field.  Did their response excite you about D&I? If not, they most likely will not excite your executive leadership, stakeholders or employees.  If they do not excite people about D&I, it is doubtful that they will be able to create or sustain inclusion. 

If you do not have someone who you can trust to lead your organization on a successful D&I mission, isn’t it about time that you do?

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]

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…

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

 

Learning to be Inclusive

“I’m Done”

Several years ago I was in California’s central valley to facilitate training sessions for a large organization with many locations. It was well over 110 degrees and despite the low humidity, it felt very hot. I had spoken with my contact the day before to make sure that all of the details for the sessions were taken care of, but when I arrived at the training location the laptop that was needed to convey the information that I was there to share via Power Point was not in the training room. My contact did not recall confirming that she would provide said laptop during our conversation the day before and after emitting a long sigh, said that she would go and find one. The room was inside of a large trailer as the client’s office building was under construction, so my contact did not have to go very far to find a laptop. In fact, she just stepped outside of the door of the training room and returned a moment later with a plastic supermarket bag. The bag contained a laptop which she proceeded to look at along with its corresponding power cord as if unsure how the two objects were related. I offered assistance and asked her if she knew how to use the laptop and projector which needed to be connected within the next few minutes if I was going to be able to use them for the upcoming session. She responded as follows: “I’m an omelet.” I was not sure if I had heard her correctly, so I asked her if she said ‘omelet’. She responded, very slowly: “Yes, I’m an omelet. I’m done. I am tired of learning things just so that other people can use them.” I asked if she had any use for the computer and she said that she was retiring in a few months and did not see any reason to learn anything new. “I am here just to set up the training room.” She shared that she had almost completed her bachelor’s degree, with only one course to go, but did not see the point in finishing. I suggested that since she was retiring that she might use some of her new found free-time to take that one last class, to which she snorted, “Why?” What a profoundly sad woman! How could anyone not want to learn something new every day?
 
Learning as a key to Inclusion

 

Last week I facilitated a panel titled, “Driving Innovation for Greater Business Results” at NALC NY (DiversityBest Practices Network and Affinity Leadership Congress). When one is presenting at a conference the conference fee is usually waived, encouraging speakers to attend the entire event including other speakers’ sessions. NALC is organized with three tiers of sessions: Emerging ERG Leaders, ERG Program Managers, and Experienced ERG Leaders. Employee Resource Groups are groups that facilitate the development and engagement of employees and are usually centered on a common interest or affinity shared by its members such as a women’s group, LGBT group, etc. As I have been in the field of diversity and inclusion for many, many years I find that it is rare that I learn something new at conferences. I was pleasantly surprised and happy that I attended all of the sessions at NALC that I could since I did learn new things. I learned from the seasoned presenters, from the panelists at my session and other sessions and from the other conference participants while practicing what I preach about listening and learning as critical elements of inclusion. One has to be open to listening – really listening or actively listening – to someone regardless of whether they have less experience in one’s field or are a competitor if one wants to really learn something new.

 

Reach & Teach

 

My dear friends Craig Wiesner & Derrick Kikuchi give all of us who are hungry for new information lots to fill up on with their company Reach & Teach! Reach And Teach, the peace and social justice learning company, is helping to transform the world through teachable moments. We offer books, games, puzzles, toys, curriculum, music, posters, DVDs, maps, and other products for people of all ages.” Reach & Teachhas been an online business since 2004 and they are about to move into their new location @ 144 West 25th Avenue, San Mateo, CA. (In case you are fortunate enough to be in the area!) Going into Craig & Derrick’s shop is an amazing experience! Craig & Derrick’s love of learning is contagious and the two of them come at you with an array of books, games, origami, and some of the best puzzles around. It is always difficult for me to tear myself away from the wonderland of inclusive learning that they have created!


Learn from Everyone!

I recommend that we try to be open to learning from everyone, not just the ‘expert’ at the front of the room, but from everyone in the room and those who are not in the room, too. We even have the opportunity to learn from those who may not be inspired or curious, those who are “here just to set up the training room.” We have the opportunity to learn from the person squished in next to us on the subway, and on line in front of us at the supermarket, and from the marginalized in all places in society. Who have you learned from today?

 

 

 

Do One Thing!

The Invitation
Many of you live what would be considered multicultural  or intercultural lives as people who love to travel the world; eating foods of all types; soaking in the wonders of cultural institutions providing bridges to other worlds, often within our own neighborhoods; and of course, having relationships with many people from many cultures.  So, your responses to my invitation to “Do One Thing” in celebration of World Day for Cultural Diversity and Dialogue Development, which is today, May 21st have been very interesting.

A few of you thanked me for the reminder to be mindful and intentional in your quest to do one thing for diversity and inclusion today; a few of you committed to doing one thing today or this week and letting me know what that thing is after it is done; and a few of you shared recent experiences:

Some Responses
“I have been meaning to pick up Chaim Potok’s The Chosen  forever, and started last night.”

“I have a letter that I will scan to you when I get a chance.  Our Muslim neighbor sent it to  their neighbors, very well written, explaining who they are (in detail), about their religion and their attitude about the Boston bombings, etc., and their concern about what our attitude might be.  I haven’t responded yet, but intend to do so.”

” … a Chinese artist visiting and we struck up a conversation. His English was far better than my Mandarin. We talked about a Chinese artist I had seen in Washington, D.C. at a Hershorn exhibit, about a Korean artist I had seen in Seattle, about the differences between how English and Chinese poetry is conceptualized, about the proper way to prepare a Chicago hot dog. I was reading a book on the history of Chicago and he compared it with the history of Shanghai. A large unknowable world became smaller and grew handles. The skin around my uniqueness began to breathe.”

Multicultural
I am always thinking about how our cultures rub off on each other, how we cannot undo the impact that others have on us, how indelibly we are marked by the sound of unfamiliar music, the taste of unusual cuisine, the colors of unexplored terrains, the scent of new places, the challenge of speaking a foreign language, the feeling of exotic fabric on our skin.  That is what makes this day so wonderful!  This invitation to do something that for me, at least, is so much fun.  I must admit, it is a challenge to do one thing today as I usually do multiple things for diversity and inclusion.  So, I thought, ‘how can I convey my message of being multicultural to you?’
 
I have decided to share one of my favorite poems.  This poem is one that I have shared with some of you before as it is an excellent expression of what many people like me experience being members of multiple cultures.  Please let me know what you think and what you have done on this special day!

 
Child of the Americas
I am a child of the Americas,
a light-skinned mestiza of the Caribbean,
a child of many diaspora, born into this continent at a crossroads.
I am a U.S. Puerto Rican Jew,
a product of the ghettos of New York I have never known.
An immigrant and the daughter and granddaughter of immigrants.
I speak English with passion: it’s the tongue of my consciousness,
a flashing knife blade of cristal, my tool, my craft.
I am Caribeña, island grown. Spanish is my flesh,
Ripples from my tongue, lodges in my hips:
the language of garlic and mangoes,
the singing of poetry, the flying gestures of my hands.
I am of Latinoamerica, rooted in the history of my continent:
I speak from that body.
I am not African. Africa is in me, but I cannot return.
I am not taína. Taíno is in me, but there is no way back.
I am not European. Europe lives in me, but I have no home there.
I am new. History made me. My first language was Spanglish.
I was born at the crossroads
and I am whole.
Taino
Cemi del Mar
Indigenous Puerto Rican People
Deity of the Sea

  
Aurora Levins Morales
1986


 
 

[Please enter your comments below so that others can benefit by them, not just me. ;-)] 

 

An Invitation

When people ask me what the difference is between the words diversity and inclusion I explain that diversity is a statement of fact, (think of the diverse group of objects on your desk.), while inclusion is an action (placing the objects on the desk is necessary if they are to be included). We may be included in a group without being invited, but the most successful groups are those that are comprised of people who have been invited to participate because of what they potentially offer the group and who accepted the invitation because of what the group potentially offers them. (See my May 2nd blog entry, “Interdependence”) Think of the value an “A List” guest speaker brings to a conference or event.
We all want to be invited to the party, to the table, to the adventure! Once the invitation or job offer is accepted however, many organizational leaders fail to invite employees to make the most of their group membership. Think of the thousands of gym memberships that have gone virtually unused because the owners of the gyms failed to motivate their members to attend the gym regularly. The most successful leaders invite employees to contribute to their organization’s success on a continual basis and acknowledge those contributions publicly. This does not mean that every idea dropped in the ‘employee suggestion box’ has to be implemented. Those ideas need to be acknowledged, however, and if they are implemented, rewarded. When employees are invited to contribute to an organization’s innovation and success both the individual and the group can reach their full potential.
 
There have been many invitations asking us to contribute to one cause or another. Uncle Sam, for example, was first used as a recruitment tool for World War I in 1916. This image is still quite familiar to most Americans. The message is personal, pointing directly at YOU. A different call to action was when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Dr. King invited us to participate in the greatest non-violent revolution in our nation’s history. His was not an exclusive invitation. He did not invite only the oppressed to stand up for their rights, as they had the most to directly gain by acquiring historically denied civil rights, but he invited all of us to contribute to creating a healthier, more productive, more peaceful nation regardless of the color of our skin or our abilities. What other invitations have inspired you to act?
 
An Invitation to ‘Do One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion’
Tuesday, May 21stis the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development and we are all invited to ‘Do One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion!
 
The 2013 campaign, by encouraging people and organizations from around the world to take concrete action to support diversity, aims:

 

  • To raise awareness worldwide about the importance of intercultural dialogue, diversity and inclusion.
  • To build a world community of individuals committed to support diversity with real and every day-life gestures.
  • To combat polarization and stereotypes to improve understanding and cooperation among people from different cultures.
 
 
The campaign works through a dedicated Facebook page, serving as a platform for people around the world to share their experiences through posts and videos.
Here are some things that you can do in response to this invite:

 

  • Invite people from another culture to share a meal with you & exchange views on life.
  • Visit an art exhibit or a museum dedicated to other cultures.
  • Watch a movie, listen to music or read a book from another country or religion.
  • Read works by the great thinkers of other cultures (e.g. Confucius, Socrates, Avicenna,
    Ibn Khaldun, Aristotle, Ganesh, Rumi, or Frances Wright).
 
So, how will you respond to this invitation?
Share your experiences and learn more about this initiative on the UN’s Facebook page: Do One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion
 
I look forward to learning about your adventures in diversity and inclusion. Please let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below and of course, if you are planning to do one thing we would love to know about it.
 
By the way, I am always open to invitations!
 
Onward!
 
~ Wendy
 

 

 

Interdependence

Independence is highly valued in American culture. Our independence from England, the independence of thought expressed by our right and responsibility to vote, the independence of a capitalist system where consumers choose which products to buy, and the independence to live and work where we choose. Interdependence takes our ability to act and think independently to the next level.
 
In the workplace interdependence is an essential element of success. Success is indicated by productivity, employee engagement, (how happy people are at work), and market share. For many years management and leadership theory articulated interdependence in industrial environments, picture Lucy and Ethel on the assembly line, for example. Employees in white collar positions, those higher up in the organizational ranks, were encouraged to be loyal to the company, but practice ‘healthy competition’ with their co-workers. This is illustrated in a somewhat extreme way in the play, “Glengarry, Glen Ross,” where the employees are made to compete for sales in order to keep their jobs.” This method of managing people to be competitive is often used when there is a commission, but not uniquely. At one of my prior employers, for example our bonuses were based on both our performance and the company’s quarterly profits. The employee evaluation system forced department heads to give only one employee the highest possible rating, thus a higher bonus. This inevitably resulted in a competitive attitude toward co-workers, even though in our department our success was not measured by the number of clients or dollars earned by the organization. This method of managing people discouraged collaboration and interdependence. When I was in graduate school there were several people in my program who were highly competitive. They would not share ideas until they did so with a professor, to assure that they would get credit for thinking brilliant thoughts. I was competing with myself to achieve more intellectually than I had ever done before in my life not my fellow students. The lack of trust by many students and some professors’ inability to encourage a free exchange of ideas among the students resulted in an unhealthy type of competition!
 
People like to be interdependent. I have long been a person who loves helping others. I enjoy being needed and am the ‘go to’ person when out with friends and someone needs a bandage, or an aspirin, or etc. One of the greatest things that I have learned however was not how to help, but to let others help me. Interdependence eliminates feelings of guilt or of owing the other person when they help you as you know that you will be helping them sooner or later. What is even better about interdependence is that what two people come up with when they collaborate is not twice as good as what one person can come up with on their own, it is exponentially better! I know that working interdependently will help me to create something better than I can on my own and so do my colleagues!
 
Strategic planning sessions are interdependent group exercises. Oh, I can come up with a plan on my own, even a pretty good one, but that plan will be created from my perspective, based on my experiences and knowledge and competencies. When I participate in an interdependent strategic planning session, everyone’s perspectives, experiences, knowledge and competencies are included equally in the process and the results are alwaysmuch, much better.
 
I am an idea woman. I have all kinds of creative, fun ideas every day. I love having new ideas and imagining them being put into action. Again, if I operate on my own, what I have may be a good idea or a great idea, possibly even a revolutionary idea, but without the interdependent experience of sharing and examining that idea with others it cannot be as good, great or revolutionary.
 
People, strategies and ideas are alwaysbetter when we collaborate with others. We cannot successfully collaborate with others unless we understand that we are interdependent. That does not mean that we understand or agree with everything that everyone says, does or thinks. It means that we allow different thoughts, ideas and perspectives to influence us by being open to who is sharing them. This is why I chose the light bulb with the gears as an image for my website. The gears represent our interdependence, the bulb the resultant, amazing idea!

 

 
There is an international movement to make people aware of our global interdependence. The short film, “A Declaration of Interdependence” by The Moxie Institute does so beautifully!
http://letitripple.org/a-declaration-of-interdependence/

 

 
Onward!

 

 
~ Wendy

 

 
 

Introducing Inclusion Strategy

I am finally launching my first blog!  With all of the thought that I give to advancing innovation through increasing inclusion and creating real diversity in the workplace, it has taken me a while to catch up to this innovative means of communication!  😉  Perhaps because writing is an isolated, team-less activity – until I hear from you that is.  Once this becomes a dialogue and is no longer a monologue it will be an inclusive activity for me.

 

I have been in the diversity and inclusion business since 1988 when it was called EEO.  Well, I have actually been involved with diversity and inclusion much longer than that.  As a child of incredibly diverse parents: my father was from Puerto Rico, where he was born in 1902 and my mother was a New Yorker, although born in Canada in 1928 of Irish, English and German descent. There are nine of us, but we have five half-siblings who are much older than I am, being the second youngest of all.  I grew up primarily in a public housing project in Astoria, Queens, NY a neighborhood typical of many port cities in its regular, almost tidal ethnic shift from one dominating group to another.  When I was a young girl, the dominant ethnic group was Italian, but immigrants and migrants arrived daily changing the demographic formula of the community.

 

The riots of the late 1960s left an indelible impression on me of conflict, polarization, marginalization and segregation. Some friends became distant, safe places became dangerous, and school yard fights more frequent.  I moved through different worlds: White, Hispanic and others but never belonged fully to any of them.  I was intent on defending those poor new kids from other countries whose hand-me-downs of green socks, brown plaid skirts and red blouses screamed, “Bully me!”  I was not immune to the attacks of racists however, including the gang of girls who threw a bucket of water mixed with laundry detergent on my sister and me while screaming “You dirty spicks!” My experiences inspired me to help others to navigate the complexities of different cultures. 

 

I established Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC to help organizations to overcome barriers to real innovation & diversity with real-world solutions. What that means is that I use my many years of practical experience, or distance traveled, professional experience and education to help employers hire, retain and grow the best and brightest employees into amazing leaders and innovators who love to come to work!  That can be accomplished through five basic steps:  The 1ststep is to assess your current organization culture; the 2nd step is to create a realistic, measurable and flexible strategic inclusion plan; the 3rd step is to develop clear, concise communication on your commitment to being inclusive; the 4th step is to provide interactive, effective education on diversity, inclusion and culture and measure results to determine your return on your investment; and the 5th step is to establish an Inclusion Support Network© to make your investment sustainable.

 

Future blog entries will include details on the five steps that I have developed to advance inclusion in the workplace; my observations on current events that relate to diversity and inclusion; and excerpts from my upcoming book, Let’s Not Be Polite: 5 Barriers to True Inclusion and How to Overcome Them.  

 

I also want to hear from you.  Remember, this needs to be an inclusive exercise! What concerns you about workplace diversity and inclusion?  What observations have you made regarding fairness in the workplace?  What has your experience been with discrimination or bullying?  What do you think of leaders of organizations that you have dealt with?

 

Back in 1988 when people asked me what my goal was regarding my EEO work I would reply, “To put myself out of business by ending discrimination.”  Twenty-five years later, the issues of diversity and inclusion are as deeply entrenched in controversy and debate as they were back then so I no longer harbor such a naïve goal. I remain as committed to diminishing the fear and ignorance that divides us and keeps us from being our best today as I was when I was a 10 year old girl mediating in the school yard.  I invite everyone to explore the benefits of real diversity in an inclusive society!

Onward!

Wendy Amengual Wark

April 25, 2013
www.inclusionstrategy.com