On Wednesday 9/9/15, Steve Levy and I kicked off the first of three webcasts hosted by College Recruiter called: Honest Diversity Conversations. The aim of these webcasts is to step outside of the realm of the typical diversity conversations. We wanted to open the eyes of business owners and HR practitioners alike to the issues and missed opportunities that exist when we don’t consider the impact of what’s going on in society, their homes and most importantly the impact of our policies and procedures.
Last week we concluded our Honest Diversity Conversations webinars. Our final discussion was about: Bias Leadership. There are so many ways that bias leadership can manifest itself in organizations. What was clear by the end of our discussion, was that race relations, bias in the workplace among other nuisance variables improve when you take care to put the right people into leadership positions. When you do your due diligence to choose the right leaders, they ultimately do what is right. This brings me to another important point- have we loss our moral compass in the workplace? In many cases, I believe we have. There is so much emphasis on impacting the bottom-line that we forget the impact we have on our employees. This omission of thought is very often unintentional. However, employees don’t want to hear what you didn’t intend. All they know is there are instances and situations where their progress and well-being are not being examined or treated consistently and equitably.
Did you know?
2014 was a record year for retaliation claims filed with the EEOC. According to a February 2015 article by SHRM, 2 in 5 (42.8%) of the charges the EEOC received in 2014 alleged retaliation against an employee pursuing discrimination claims. If your leadership is tuned into the workforce for both good and bad cues – how does something like retaliation reach the numbers the EEOC is reporting? It essentially means that HR departments and leaders are not practicing what they preach, In HR, it is quite customary to have a non-retaliation policy. The piece that many employers don’t get is you can draft and implement any policy you want. The issues arise when you are inconsistent in how you apply said rules and more importantly when the “rule book” mysteriously changes depending on your race, creed, gender etc.
These discussions were not your typical diversity discussions. It was created to discuss and enlighten the masses to what really goes on in practice, with intention, and many times in ignorance. We sincerely hope that you will feel empowered to continue these conversations in your own organizations.
For links to the first two recaps and extra teasers see below:
One of the things that has troubled me throughout my career is the inability for many people to be truthful in business situations. I’m not naive to the art and power of a carefully crafted message versus being blatantly honest; but I still think we could use more truth and integrity than not in business. HR in particular, has always been an area where I never understood the place for deceit. Fundamentally, people want and expect an increased level of both integrity and truth in HR because of the nature of what we do in an organization. Yet, in so many instances we disappoint when we don’t have the courage to be honest with the C-Suite about apparent organizational opportunities or concerns and equally so – when we aren’t honest with our employees. According to a 2014 American Psychological Association: Work and Well-Being Survey, 1 in 4 workers stated that they don’t trust their employers. The question is why do they feel this way and what can we change to turn this around.
When truth is a business imperative, trust is earned.
If we look at the racial events and rhetoric of the day, it is safe to say very few companies – let alone HR departments feel truthfully comfortable addressing what’s going on in society. Somehow, employers have decided it is a conversation for the water cooler, but not necessarily something for them to address. Just take a look at what happened when Starbucks kicked off their #RaceTogether initiative. Good, bad or indifferent, I still believe that Starbucks was well-intended and extremely brave for trying to tackle this very sensitive topic at an organizational level. The unfortunate thing is Starbucks is just one company. Most companies are generally conflicted as to whether or not they should allow dialogue around racism.
For sustainable change to happen on and off the job, we need many more companies and HR departments to stop and think about how you can constructively discuss race, discrimination and other social injustices in the workplace without being scared straight about the legal ramifications.
Every attempt to tackle racism, prejudice or bias in the workplace is generally seen as a liability. As such, we HR practitioners carefully craft trainings and communications to address things like diversity and inclusion, because it is safe, it’s avant-garde for HR and it fills a compliance need. Meanwhile, the burning questions among your employees about your position on social injustices are looming and your neutrality or lack of a straight answer is perceived as concurrence in the negative.
I am not the neutral kind when it comes to racial injustice. The past few years of senseless killings and racial rhetoric in the U.S. have pushed my colleague/friend Steve Levy and I to write about how HR should be handling Race Relations in a rather blunt exposéof current events. Now, we are happy to share that we will be presenting three consecutive webcasts in September sponsored by our friends at College Recruiter to address the need for “truth in HR”. In fact, the hashtag for our series is: #truthinhr. The series is called: Honest Diversity Conversations. We will let you decide if you think we are “honest” enough. The three part series will address: Race Relations & HR, Discrimination and The Hiring Process, and Bias Leadership.
Please consider joining us. I am listing the webcast topics and dates below. We are aspiring to shift the way HR, jobseekers, and leaders approach these incendiary topics.
In addition, I am finally breaking my silence about some of the more recent events regarding race relations. I am providing an honest synopsis of how I feel. You can watch my latest “Ask Czarina” episode here to see what I have to say.
I hope to see you all next month. Let’s keep talking and thinking about how we can do this better. This is about social responsibility. When you’re in business, it should be a consistent consideration.