Community Engagement Drives Business Results

(Excerpts from TRAILBLAZERS: How Top Business Leaders are Accelerating Results through Inclusion and Diversity)

volunteersCompanies have known for years that supporting community efforts can reflect positively on the organization. Our Trailblazers deemed this relationship critical to the success of diversity and inclusion within their businesses, as this involvement drives results in several ways.

Being involved with the community leads to having a better representation of employees that reflect the community. When employees see that their organizations care about the communities in which they live, they are in turn more committed to the organization and more likely to be ambassadors for the company as they interact with their friends, family, and colleagues.

Some businesses have very specific community goals, while others support community projects as they surface because they generally see it as the “right thing to do.” Trailblazers help their organizations develop and clarify community involvement goals, and then guide their leaders as they support the community agencies and projects that are in alignment with the company’s mission and values. Instead of using the scattered, “here today, gone tomorrow” approach, leaders help their organizations focus their efforts and resources—which creates the ability to measure outcomes and make adjustments where needed. The more an organization can concentrate on its community involvement, the better its results will be.

Dr. Tiffany Franks, president of Averett University explained it this way. “Whether it’s conducting research, providing service to nonprofits, working to help those in need and/or serving an internship, it is our community engagement that makes Averett successful in its mission of developing graduates who become catalysts for positive change.”

Dell contributes in the communities where their employees live and work by developing community programs that promote digital inclusion and close the gap on the digital divide. Having built a global business on improving the effectiveness of written communication, Pitney Bowes has a vital interest in literacy and education. Their leadership believes that, by supporting literacy and education programs, the company can improve countless lives and strengthen the fabric of communities everywhere they are involved.

Note that nowhere in these focus statements is there a mention of diversity and inclusion. There is no need, because these are overall business statements where diversity and inclusion is implicit.

The Community Model illustrates the critical components of an effective community community modelinvolvement process. First, the organization must become clear about their brand and their marketplace. This then allows collaboration among business group leaders, and corporate community relations in the goal-setting process. Once goals are set, communication, recognition, and rewards for involvement can be disseminated throughout the organization.

When an organization has clear diversity and inclusion goals related to community involvement, its leaders’ and employees’ actions as community volunteers are more likely to elicit tangible results. When people know why they are serving their community—beyond it simply being the “right thing to do”—they’re able to increase their awareness of how they might address community challenges. Several of our Trailblazer companies require senior executives to serve the community, and this accountability is reflected in their salaries and bonuses. This deeper understanding of all of the people who comprise the community allows executives to make more informed decisions regarding how their business impacts the community.

Progressive leaders see the payoff that comes with supporting the external community and are clear about the diversity connection. Former American Airlines’ CDO Mike Collins declared, “Because we serve people all over the world, it is imperative that we not only understand differences but also ensure our constituents know that [we’re aware of] their needs. Kirsten Robinson, VP of Human Resources of Ford Motor Company, explained, “Our corporate reputation has been enhanced as a long-time supporter of diversity and the role we play—not only in the communities where we operate, but also the broader global community. It reaffirms Ford’s strong commitment to a better world.”

When business, education and not-for-profit service organizations work together everyone wins. Make it easy for your staff to become involved with the community, not just during holiday season, but year round.

 

Tulsa “Riots” of 1921: What you probably did not learn in school

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
— George Santayana (1863-1952)

humiliation_smallI was deeply saddened, angry and proud all at once as I learned of yet another incident of man’s inhumanity to man. I was proud because I saw the pictures of many survivors. They were African Americans who persevered through Jim Crow laws and other humiliations yet still managed to build a community that thrived economically while other communities around them were failing. This was the community of Greenwood in Tulsa Oklahoma, 1921. It was also known as the Black Wall Street.

As I experienced my private walking tour of Greenwood of today, I was angry that I had never heard of this historical event. (There was not much Black history taught when I was in school. Back then there was only Black History Week, and my teachers asked me, a 15 year old, to bring something to class and teach “my” history.) History is written by the victors and the “victors” did not want people to know about Greenwood. In fact, I was told by a daughter of a survivor that neither Black people nor White people spoke about Greenwood until decades later. African Americans said nothing for fear of retribution; Caucasians were silent due to embarrassment or shame. It was not until 2001 or so that conversations began in earnest in an effort to determine what actually happened.

I felt sadness as I walked the streets, and read the memory plaques of what once was. So hostility 1_smallmany untold stories were lost. So many people died. And all because of hate, fear, and prejudice.

I hope you will be compelled to make the time to explore some of the links provided here, to learn about this part of American history. Yes, it is sad, but the good news is there are many people striving to uncover and preserve the facts, and work toward a stronger more inclusive future.

By the way, you may be wondering why I placed quotes around “riots.” When references were made to this massacre, the word riot was used intentionally, even though it was not technically a riot. The legal records indicate that the homes destroyed did not have riot insurance, but a massacre could have required insurance companies to pay for losses.

hope 3I am grateful to Mana Tahaie, Director of Racial Justice at the Tulsa YWCA for the amazing tour of Greenwood. It was not a tour of despair as it left me with feelings of hope and determination. Hope for the future as Tulsa works toward inclusion in all senses of the word. Their ROI Summit (Return on Inclusion) had the largest attendance ever, including CEOs of major businesses, attendees from multiple states, and leaders from dozens of not-for-profit organizations. All were there to learn how to build a stronger, more united community. Thank you, Justice Waider-Smith, Ph.D. for your efforts to bring me to Tulsa to speak to this amazing group of leaders.

I invite you to share your comments on this blog and join me in efforts to stop man’s inhumanity to man.

Colorism – A Silent Bias in the World of Diversity

colorismColorism, what is it? The word “diversity” when used in the workplace conjures up many meanings, often determined by where in the world you are. In the United States and especially in the southern states most people immediately think- race. In some parts of the US and within most other countries, people will think- race and gender. Within organizations that have launched diversity and inclusion initiatives the meaning of “diversity” broadens to include LGBTQ, age,  abilities and many of the other differences among us that when respected creates a healthy and productive diversity of thought. Rarely, however do people think of colorism as an aspect of diversity and bias.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Although the word ‘color’ is included as one of the many factors protected against discrimination, my work nationally and internationally continually surfaces an unconscious bias related to skin color regardless of ethnicity. In the US, until the 60’s and 70’s, the darker an African American person’s complexion the less likely that person would reach a high status in the workplace; the lighter the complexion and straighter the hair the more likely teachers Black and White would favor that child. Although thankfully this bias is fading as it relates to job advancement, research still indicates that little girls prefer to have fair skin and believe dark skin is bad and/or ugly. In the 80’s and still present today, various media depict lighter skin tones as more attractive, and darker skin tone scary or dangerous.

My global work reveals the same bias. Often I am told, ‘we just need to focus on gender equity because race is not an issue here, our culture is open and accepting.’ I am told, ‘we are all French, or English, or Mexican no race or ethnic bias exists here.’ Yet, when I observe the community at large and the workplaces in particular, bias regarding tone of skin is evident. The lighter the skin the higher the position held.  Immigrants and their descendants in countries around the world with darker skin hold the less prestigious jobs. Globally, skin lightening creams are sold and used even when the people, usually women, using them know of the potential health dangers.

The root of this bias runs deep. Perhaps that is why the acts of discrimination are so unconscious. Many communities and organizations celebrate diversity during the month of October. As you do so, I invite you to take a real look at color.

Stop! It’s Time to Talk

With dialogue can come understanding. Without it comes assumptions, presumptions and misdirected behavior. We all see events through our own life experience lenses. The more we are willing to examine an opposing point of view, the more likely we are to hold judgment until we have more facts. Within the last three weeks, I have had the privilege of delivering diversity and inclusion workshops to two different municipalities where the participants included police officers. This month I will speak at two different federal prisons. Is everyone open to the message of inclusion and respect? Of course not, but more people are open to learning than some might think.

The following article by Salon, is one that generates strong feelings and views. I share it with you here to invite you to join the dialogue and share your perspective. There is no presumption of right or wrong. Please click the link and read through the article and then share your comments on my blog at www.globaldiversitytalk.com Let’s all find our own ways to STOP and TALK for understanding.

http://www.salon.com/2014/08/23/white_privilege_an_insidious_virus_thats_eating_america_from_within/

Multicultural Musings August 2014 Features

Tips, Techniques, & Ideas
(an excerpt from The Diversity Advantage)

Form a small group of colleagues to explore the effects of stereotyp­ical thinking. Have each member share the follow­ing information:

·    Describe a time in your childhood when you didn’t fit in. What was the situation; how did you feel; how did you react?

·    Identify a group of which you are a member (e.g. Millenial; Christian, African American male), share what you never want to see, hear or experience as it relates to your group.

Example: European American/White/Caucasian
I never want to hear…

— …”your problems are my fault.”
—     “You just don’t get it.”
—      “All Whites are bigots.”

·    Share what the results and insights of this exercise are with me at www.globaldiversitytalk.com

 
Ponder This …
“So listening, carefully, is what I was taught all my life. I’m just saying that when people don’t listen, it’s not that they don’t learn, they just deny themselves tremendous opportunities and glorious choices.”

—Steven Spielberg

SOURCE: My BeyondthePlatform webinar partner, Chris Clarke-Epstein, CSP, Thinking for a Change weekly message. To subscribe to her weekly messages click:http://www.change101.com/thinking-for-a-change.html

 
A World of Inclusion: News of Interest

With the school year now in full operation in most parts of the country, I thought you may wish to read the following articles and pass them on to educators you know. Since HATE is very carefully taught, let’s support teachers who are teaching acceptance and understanding.

Three Years Old, Black and Suspended
What is Mix It Up at Lunch Day?
Looking Closely at Ourselves

Ubuntu Global launches!

This summer has proven to be a very busy one with work, travel, new appointments and business developments. One of results of our busy time is the launching of my new website, http://www.ubuntuglobal.com/. This is something that has been in the works for awhile and I knew that when I made this website change that I wanted the name of my website to reflect what my business focus is all about.

Ubuntu is a South African proverb that sums up my philosophy regarding diversity and inclusion concepts, strategies and actions perfectly. Ubuntu means, “I am because we are. We are because I am.” And of course, “global” emphasizes the scope of my work, as well as meaning that diversity impacts every corner of the world. You can learn more about Ubuntu by watching me on this video: http://vimeo.com/86530367

As I strive to expand www.UbuntuGlobal.com  worldwide, I ask that you join me in this movement by simply taking the Ubuntu Pledge. A few months ago, a colleague of mine was so inspired to make himself accountable for his own actions regarding racism, sexism, and all types of bigotry, he wrote a pledge that inspired this Ubuntu Pledge. He granted me permission to adapt it and use, as long as I did not share his name. (You know who you are; thank you so much!)

For now, just print the pledge and make a personal commitment.  By joining together in the smallest of actions, we can make an impact in the community around us. In the coming months, look for more information about ways to use the pledge and how to sign up as a supporter of the concept.

Your thoughts and insights are very much appreciated so please take a moment to share them on my blog www.GlobalDiversityTalk.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Linking Corporate Diversity Efforts to Community Engagement for Measurable Results

Most leaders discover they must first travel their own diversity journey before they can develop anything beyond a superficial understanding of people different from themselves. While it’s easy to donate money, that’s just corporate philanthropy. It’s needed, but it doesn’t allow for much engagement with the community on a personal level, and donations can be perceived as an obligation or an attempt to garner good public relations instead of true commitment. Diversity and inclusion at all levels works when those involved develop trust; to do so, direct engagement is mandatory.

Where, then, is the link between corporate diversity and community efforts? Chief Diversity Officers who are Trailblazers see many connections. According to Steve Bucherati, Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) at The Coca Cola Company, community involvement is an integral component of strengthening the brand. He explains, “Our brands are for everyone; it doesn’t matter whether you’re the President of the United States or the average Jane or Joe on the street. . . . You can’t buy ‘better’ Coke, no matter how rich. . . or who you are. The brand is truly inclusive. . . so we extrapolate from that and say, well that’s what we ought to be about as an organization. We ought to be as inclusive as our brands. We ought to be a company for everybody no matter who you are, what your background is, and what your experiences are. Then we take that mentality and try to drive that down into our marketplace, workplace, and community strategies.”

Michael Collins , former CDO at American Airlines expressed it this way: “… We talk about diversity as a continuum rather than an ending destination. It is something for which everyone is responsible, especially our leaders. In order to be a good leader, you need to be able to lead diversity and create inclusive environments.”

Some organizations have very specific community goals, while others support community projects as they surface because they generally see it as the “right thing to do.” Chief Diversity Officers who are Trailblazers  (CDO) help their organizations develop and clarify community involvement goals, and then they guide their leaders as they support the community agencies and projects that are in alignment with the company’s mission and values. Instead of using the scattered, “here today, gone tomorrow” approach, Trailblazers help their companies focus their efforts and resources—which creates the ability to measure outcomes and make adjustments where needed.  The more the organization can concentrate on its community involvement, the better its results will be.

Figure 9.1This graphic  illustrates the critical components of an effective community involvement process. First, the organization must become clear about their brand and their marketplace. This then allows collaboration of the CDO, business group leaders, and the community relations department in the goal-setting process. Once goals are set, communication, recognition, and rewards for involvement can be disseminated throughout the organization.

For example, Dell contributes in the communities where their employees live and work by developing community programs that promote digital inclusion and close the gap on the digital divide.

“We are committed to the belief that people around the world should have access to technology to learn critical skills and enhance their lives,” says former CDO Gil Casellas. Similarly, having built a global business on improving the effectiveness of written communication, Pitney Bowes has a vital interest in literacy and education. Their leadership believes that, by supporting literacy and education programs, the company can improve countless lives and strengthen the fabric of communities everywhere they are involved. Note that nowhere in these focus statements is there a mention of diversity and inclusion. There is no need, because these are overall business statements where diversity and inclusion is implicit.

When an organization has clear diversity and inclusion goals related to community involvement, its leaders’ and employees’ actions as community volunteers are more likely to elicit tangible results. When people know why they are serving their community—beyond it simply being the “right thing to do”—they’re able to increase their awareness of how they might address community challenges. Several of our Trailblazer companies require senior executives to serve the community, and this accountability is reflected in their salaries and bonuses.

Executives of Trailblazer companies see the payoff that comes with supporting the external community and are clear about the diversity connection.These leaders are willing to be a little vulnerable in order to understand that perspectives different from their own are not wrong—just different. Most leaders are accustomed to having people see things their way. By personally supporting community organizations that serve diverse constituents, executives are able to broaden their perspectives.

Our Trailblazers have found that becoming involved in global communities while supporting company goals is rewarding for employees, leaders, and the communities they impact. More often than not, “community” includes groups of people within certain locales, as well as groups with common characteristics. Deb Dagit CDO (retired) of Merck & Company proudly shared the following example of how community and employee teams are able to innovate:

“We have a CEO diversity and inclusion award  that we give on a global basis. It has given us a platform for employees at all levels of the organization not only to be recognized for individual efforts but team efforts as well, while articulating the business outcome.

“One of the teams that received recognition  put together the approach to getting a vaccine to prevent certain types of human papillomavirus [HPV]) into the marketplace. They went about gathering voices of the customer, and designing the campaign The approach was very multicultural. . . and respectful of different faiths, generations, and the role that mothers play in health care decisions. It was also respectful of young women themselves. They designed an extraordinarily effective campaign that led to remarkable uptake of the product and, at the same time, demonstrated in very subtle ways how you can do this in a way that is multiculturally sensitive.”

Guiding your company’s involvement in the communities it serves helps the business, engages leaders and employees while deepening their understanding of diversity and inclusion, contributes to the success of organizations served and ultimately provides all with focus and purpose.

 


To Be or Not to Be PC: Creating Inclusive Language in Today’s World of Diversity

Please don’t say I’m ‘wheelchair-bound’ or even worse, ‘confined to a wheelchair.’  — Rolf Hotchkiss

 Are you tired of political correctness and wonder why it is suggested that language should become more sensitive? As our society and workplaces continue to expand their diversity, more and more people want to be referred to by terms they have chosen rather than the labels selected by others. Sometimes the power of words is underestimated.

Thus, one ill-chosen word can create friction, loss of jobs, and even millions of dollars- evidence Don Sterling of the Clippers, and Paula Dean.

There are times when ill-chosen words in fact reflect the racism, sexism, homophobia and other isms of the person speaking the words. Many times however, the offender just did not know any better, due to influences of their inner circle and culture.

So why are some people so offended by certain terms? There are many reasons, and most are imbedded in the history of power and disenfranchisement. Many people with Latino heritage, for example, do not like the term Hispanic because it was a term formulated by the United States Census Bureau in 1970. When it was realized that many U.S. households consisted of families who spoke Spanish, there had not previously been a way to record this dynamic. Rather than attempt to identify every country from which these residents’ ancestors might have come, the Census Bureau created the word Hispanic. Hispanic is not really an ethnic group. It is a generalized term used to describe a diverse group of people whose primary language is often Spanish. On the other hand, some people of Latino heritage prefer the term Hispanic because they believe it carries less bias than the words Mexican or Puerto Rican, for example.

Many Blacks prefer African American because the word black is rarely capitalized, even when it is specifically referring to that ethnic group (except within books written by African Americans, magazines targeting the African American culture or publications that focus on diversity), whereas African American does have the honor of capital letters just as other ethnicities and nationalities do. Some people believe the small case “b” is another example of subtle, institutionalized racism, while African American is a term of pride. Unlike European Americans/Caucasians who can choose to recognize their Irish, German, or Italian heritage, African Americans do not easily have the option to recognize their specific heritage. For many African Americans it is impossible to identify their ancestors’ country of origin. On the other hand, some Blacks do not like African American because they see themselves as American and not African since Africa is not a country; it is a continent. Each time I visit South Africa to work with organizations there, I am acutely aware that I am American, even though I am proud of my African heritage.

Another tough category to figure out is gender. Some women like being referred to as “ladies, gals or girls” while others are offended.  Although you will never get that one totally right every time, you can show your gender sensitivity in other ways by using terms like police officer, firefighter, and postal carrier when appropriate. Ask your colleagues for other inclusive gender language.

RVSo what can you do about this confusing dilemma? One person can never know all of the right words to use. When a reference must be made, ask people who are members of that group which term they prefer. The answers will vary. People have individual preferences, but your interest by asking questions will demonstrate your effort to show respect. Too often we assume, or are too afraid we will offend by just asking, thus causing misunderstandings and multicultural mishaps. In other cases, it is easier to tell yourself they should just get over it! No one is being hurt by team names like the Redskins or recreational vehicles called Winnebagos , right?

The use of specific derogatory terms by a group that aren’t acceptable coming from Rapanother group has become a big issue. The use of the “N” word, as used by rap and hip hop artists and now youth in general across the country is one such example. When Black kids call each other this, it’s fine (to some); they say they are reclaiming the word to take away the pain of past use of it. But when a White person says it, they are called racist. This is confusing to those not in the group, and it perpetuates inappropriate behavior.

In some cases, a more effective way of referring to different ethnic groups is to place the word American in front of the ethnicity; for example, Americans of European heritage, Americans with Asian heritage, Americans with Latino heritage, and so on.

Although using words and phrases that show respect and sensitivity require effort, it really is not very difficult or time-consuming. Recognize that you will never make 100% of your colleagues happy. Pick a few words/phrases that you are willing to change, thus showing your desire to connect with and respect others who differ from you.

Since “appropriate” words change all the time, try the following suggestions:

  • Ask several people within the same cultural group which terms they prefer.
  • Omit slang terms when referring to others.
  • Speak up when others in your inner circle use derogatory language, and ask them to speak up if you slip too.
  • Do not use derogatory terms to describe others even if people within the cultural group do. For example, if a Jewish person tells a joke about Jews that is not permission for others not in the group to do the same.
  • Refrain from joking about a person’s bald head, size, or lack of height. Even if they politely laugh, it does not mean they think it is funny.
  • Click here for a list of words that offend and alternatives to them, then work on two or three with your team.

Lighten up, and show respect at the same time. Be willing to say, “I’m sorry,” or “I didn’t mean to offend; help me learn the right terms.” Most people will recognize your sincerity and your intent, if it is truly present. And remember, some people are just looking for a reason to be mad. Ignore those folks and focus on the majority who do want to create a space for understanding.

 

The Kiss…

Not that long ago, people were uncomfortable seeing mixed race couples hold hands or kiss, and wanted them to hide.

Change does not happen until enough people get uncomfortable with the status quo. As it infamous-ole-miss-player-marshall-henderson-says-hes-boycotting-espn-over-the-michael-sam-kiss-in-a-nsfw-tweetrelates to LGBT acceptance, many of people straight and gay have become uncomfortable with the expectation that some people should hide who they are. It is time for people to get over themselves and accept that others do not need to cater to the majority’s needs. I applaud Michael Sam for the kiss, because it is a way of saying, ‘You will need to deal with all of who I am. I will not hide any part of who I am. If you are uncomfortable, deal with it.’ It is not his issue. His issue is to play the best football possible. He will be under much pressure to perform.

In all my diversity work, when it has been safe enough for an LGBT person to speak up, each has said essentially this. I am not seeking your acceptance. I am not seeking your permission. I am not seeking your approval. I am merely seeking your respect as one human being to another.

We as humans will continue to judge others. If we want to grow, we will ask ourselves WHY others behavior or appearance bothers us. Perhaps then we can uncover our own biases and become richer for the experience.