We are going to Puerto Rico for the International Society of Diversity and Inclusion Professionals first annual conference April 23-27, 2012. Sara Taylor will be presenting the session, From Best to Better Practice: Moving beyond Inclusion to Create Higher Performance. Will you be there?
I think we deserve some credit. We in the Diversity and Inclusion profession have taken an unknown, unidentified practice and shaped it into a discipline that adds incredible value to our organizations and we’ve done that in just a few decades! Yet, as a young profession, I think we have a long way to go to reach our full potential. There is much that is yet to be solidified, researched, discovered or invented, which creates an exciting environment for us.
So, how do we get there? We take full advantage of the few opportunities to network, learn and question together with our D&I peers, particularly at conferences like the Multicultural Forum happening this week in Minneapolis, MN. We need to squeeze events like this dry and come away satiated with new information and perspectives. deepSEE has been involved in this particular conference for over a decade and I can’t speak highly enough of it. If you plan to attend, join us at our booth in the resource fair or at our session, “From Best to Better: New Practices for Organizational Success across Difference” on Thursday afternoon.
Way to go JCPenney! I just saw the CNN interview with Ronald Johnson, JCP’s CEO. He speaks of his response to the group “One Million Moms” and their campaign against Ellen DeGeneres and JCP for choosing her as their spokesperson. Johnson is an example of the kind of courageous leader we need at the helm in today’s organizations. He did a values check and it was simple. He said JCP values integrity and DeGeneres is “probably the highest integrity person that is in America these days.” Simple. She continues to be their spokesperson. It really can be that easy!
Most CEOs still buckle when a controversy involving Diversity hits them. What we need is more bravery and sincere support at the helm. So I praise you for that, Mr. Johnson. But I also have to say that I humbly have a critique for you. You also mention that JCP still operates from the perspective of the founding name of the company from 110 years ago, “The Golden Rule,” and also believes in that philosophy to treat others as you would like to be treated. I respectfully suggest that this may in fact be an ineffective approach. Please consider this: you have different perspectives, needs, values, etc. from those around you and therefore, what may be respectful to you may not be respectful to them. They may actually prefer that you not treat them as you would like to be treated. Consider instead, the Platinum Rule and treat others the way they want to be treated. That approach, matched with your courage to stand behind Diversity will make you even more effective as a leader!!
What would happen if we approached Diversity or anti-racism work with the goal of being effective versus being “right?” I asked myself that question again today as I read the Minneapolis StarTribune headline about the anti-racism campaign initiated by a community group in the small city of Duluth, MN. They are initiating critical conversations with their billboards about white privilege, but they are also stirring up quite a bit of hate and defensiveness. Does the community group have good intentions? No doubt. Are they drawing attention to the issue of racism? Of course. But, are they being effective? I would say definitely yes with a certain sliver of the population and definitely not with another sliver of the population. So, if I were grading them, I’d give them an “A” for courage, another “A” for initiating conversation, but a “C” for effectiveness.
When we put out messages or do Diversity work that makes a percentage of the group even more defensive, we have only been successful at further polarizing the issue. If we instead approach people where they are in a no-blame, no-shame way and push them to a deeper level of understanding then we have been not only courageous, but also effective.
deepSEE is looking forward to taking part in Linkage's Leading Diversity and Inclusion Conference in Atlanta, April 30 - May 2, 2012. We'll have a booth in the exhibit hall, and we will be involved in learning sessions. Are you planning to go? Let us know so we can connect!