One of the most difficult conversations for the leader of a diverse workforce to have is anything related to perceived mistreatment by an individual or group based on discrimination.
Many leaders shy away from the topic out of fear or lack of understanding much to the frustration of the person expressing the concern. This occurs most often in leaders who don't feel equipped to deal with such sensitive matters. The outcome is usually a disgruntled employee who feels ignored, devalued, and unsupported.
When left unaddressed, these matters can end up hostile with the employee lodging a formal complaint that can easily become a lawsuit. Oftentimes, company leaders feel that the best way to address the bad behavior of one is to force the entire company through diversity and inclusion training. This knee-jerk response usually angers the majority of staff since they feel they weren’t personally responsible for other people's bad behaviors.
It also devalues the significance of diversity training. Moreover, a lack of skill in managing prejudicial complaints and conduct can weaken the reputation of the leader. Knowledge in this area is a critical part of leading a diverse workforce. Allowing painful affronts to an employee to go on without intervening damages relationships, productivity, and the company's reputation.
Matters like this can escalate from hard feelings between two employees all the way to an investigation by the EEOC-especially if one of the employees happens to be in management. Unconscious bias and blatant discrimination are matters that should be handled expediently from the first complaint. But many leaders don't have the confidence to speak on matters of social injustices minorities may feel at work. That’s why this topic, "Leading a Diverse Workforce" is important.
Participants will learn how to create an environment where people can talk openly about their concerns without fear of judgment or retaliation. Leaders will learn how to broach subjects regarding unconscious bias, prejudice, and exclusion with confidence. Alternatively, culture, class, gender, race, religion, age, and so many other attributes are positioned as assets within the organization.
The goal is to create safe spaces for discourse on diversity matters. Avoidance, denial, and resistance only result in a lack of preparation by leaders when the issue arises. This topic is a great start in educating leaders in how to create a workplace that is fair and tolerant.
Leaders who are averse to addressing matters that have proven to be controversial in our society tend to shy away from them. Therefore, this session is a good one for those who need to have more courageous conversations. One area of special resistance is diversity, equity and inclusion. Talking about diversity matters-especially race and racism-for a lot of people is like bringing up a dirty family secret at the annual reunion.
It's uncomfortable and painful. Most people would rather avoid it or tiptoe around the toughest parts. Every person has an opinion about race, culture, religion, gender, and sexual orientation, yet many feel awkward expressing it around people outside of their normal circle of friends and family. Having an open dialogue is the most important effort a leader can make in building knowledge, promoting healing, and increasing respect for cultural differences.
Participants in this session will be challenged to think about the way they think (metacognition) when it comes to living near, socializing with or working in an environment where everybody's not the same. Individuals will be encouraged to examine their behaviors, communications, and mindsets to uncover any unconscious bias that they may be harboring and exhibiting. In so doing, they will learn to ask for accountability from themselves and their staff, offer solutions, and promote bold action against unfairness and prejudice. It all starts with open and meaningful dialogue.
In the end, leaders should be able to ask their direct reports to accept each person on their own merits and not because of faulty stereotypes and cultural ignorance. This kind of discovery comes only through honest and frank discussions.