Discrimination: A Common Theme

October 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Often, as Americans, we tend to have a relatively narrow scope of the issues that our society faces.  One example of this tendency is discrimination.  We somehow forget that this facet of society is not unique to our nation, but plagues peoples throughout the world.  In fact, many of the same populations and cultures are the victim of discrimination in various parts of the world.  In a recent article from Eurozine, the current situation in Europe is evaluated, revealing many of the same issues that we face in America.  Disenfranchised groups, namely minorities, face intolerant political and social movements that belittle their culture and devalue their contributions.  Read Living With Diversity: For a Politics of Hope Without Fear and see the issues that Europe is facing.  Compare those findings with our current social state and see that discrimination is the same the world over.  Another article supporting these findings and highlighting the daily struggle faced by minorities in Europe is Racism, Discrimination of Minorities Widespread in Europe.  This article highlights the daily impact that unfair treatment has on an entire population.  By researching from afar, we can gain perspective and make change in our own daily routines to curb the effects of discrimination.

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The Truth on Campus Diversity Initiatives

September 30, 2010 Leave a comment

There has been much debate on the issue of collegiate diversity and the admissions processes.  A few recent articles highlight the emotion involved in this societal issue and we feel this is a topic worth discussing.  Regardless of where you stand on this issue, it is important to view the results, or lack there of, from collegiate diversity initiatives.  According to Paul Gorski, the founder of an organization called EdChange, educational institutions rarely dig deep enough to enact real diversity progress.  According to his view, schools must go beyond the surface to change fundamental and structural systems in order to reap the true benefits of a diverse school body.  Visit this article by Newsweek Education titled The Invisible Campus Color Line and then return to suggest ways schools can make diversity an integral part of the university.

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Empathy Proven to Increase Generosity

September 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Be proud of yourself, America.  Your tendency to actually give to others has risen 187% since 1954.  In 2005, over 65 million Americans volunteered to help charities. Many factors have been sited as to the reason for this trend, but 96% percent of volunteers said that one of their motivations was “feeling compassion toward other people”.  Are we actually becoming more empathetic?  A recent study suggests that we are.  On a biological basis, we now know the reason for the “feeling of compassion”: a chemical released in the body known as Oxytocin.  This chemical has been scientifically proven to increase “generous behavior” up to 80% compared to a placebo pill.  What does this tell us?  That we are naturally equipped with mechanisms that spur us to be empathetic.  In further study, scientists found that once empathy was increased in an individual, that individual was now much more likely to move to action, actually helping other people.  This study, provided by Science Daily, highlights the natural inclining in us to help others.  The business world should take note as well.  Creating an environment that produces feelings of compassion and empathy provides the organization with concerned, involved employees that truly care about the well-being of their co-workers.  Does your organization evoke feelings of compassion?  Are employees given the opportunity to act on their natural tendency to help others?  In truth, we all could use a little brushing up on our empathetic tendencies.  Share with us your stories of how helping others resulted in benefit for yourself, the helped person, and the organization.

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September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

A good indication of cultural survival is the continued use of traditional languages and dialects.  People who are unable to readily communicate because of language differences are more likely to maintain cultural differences as well.  Linguists estimate that the world’s peoples speak 5000-6000 languages.  The most common “native” language is Mandarin Chinese.   English is a distant third.  These facts indicate the need for global knowledge and respect in order for companies to get the most out of their efforts.  A small amount of research can go a long way to increase empathy and understanding and can also reshape individual attitudes, making them more globally acceptable.  In this increasingly interconnected world, it is important to remember that Americans are truly a minority in the scheme of things.  Adopting this paradigm will do much in the arena of business and communication.  Further your knowledge regarding some of the basic facts on world population by visiting this article on World Diversity Patterns and then return to share with us your personal experience in international communication.

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Why Paradigms Shape Policy

September 13, 2010 Leave a comment

“In the wake of the new Arizona law allowing the police to detain people they suspect of entering the country illegally, young people are largely displaying vehement opposition.  Meanwhile, baby boomers, despite a youth of “live and let live,” are siding with older Americans and supporting the Arizona law.  This emerging divide has appeared in a handful of surveys taken since the measure was signed into law, including a New York Times/CBS News poll that found that Americans 45 and older were more likely than the young to say the Arizona law was “about right” (as opposed to “going too far” or “not far enough”). Boomers were also more likely to say that “no newcomers” should be allowed to enter the country while more young people favored a “welcome all” approach.”

This quote, obtained from The New York Times writer Damien Cave, highlights the cognitive diversity in our nation regarding immigration.  Ever the “hot topic”, immigration evokes deep emotion, often triggering mechanisms in our brain that have long since been dismissed.  Science tells us the reason for this a formula of one part experience and one part expectation combined with a tendency go with our “gut” feeling.  What’s missing?  Free thought.  Subjective reasoning often leads us to make decisions that we are not consciously aware of, often to the detriment of others.  Regardless of where you stand on the immigration issue, take some time to think about how you perceive the issues in todays world.  Do you research multiple arguments?  Do you empathize with others?  For most of us, the natural answer is no.  We have our mind made up before we even learn of a developing issue.  It is this approach to problem solving that denies nature’s most vital characteristic: CONNECTEDNESS.

As you read the article found by clicking here, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/18/us/18divide.html, take some time to think of the automatic responses that we all fall victim to.  This post is not intended to sway you to one side of the immigration issue or the other.  Rather, it aims to bring conscious thought to the decisions that shape our society.  Please take some time and share with us your decision making process.

Why the Facts About the “Ground Zero Mosque” are Overlooked

August 20, 2010 Leave a comment

The “Ground Zero Mosque” in New York has stirred up quite a debate in our society.  Regardless of where you stand on this issue, it is important to get the facts before making any decision, especially one that serves judgement.  A recent article in The Huffington Post illustrates our tendency to ignore facts and make decisions based on our emotion and previous notions.  As you read, pay attention the information that contradicts your current image of the situation.  Though there is commentary that seems congruent with one side of the argument, the article does a great job of introducing facts to this hot-button issue.

Read the article at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-sledge/just-how-far-is-the-groun_b_660585.html

and post your responses to our Diversity 2.0 Blog.

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I’m Back…Diversity Training Takes Another Hit..But is it Warranted?

March 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Well, I’ve been away for 5 months working hard on the business of diversity.  Times are both good and bad, but I have adjusted and believe I have us moving in the right direction.  Enough of the business nuts and bolts talk…

The Boston Globe had an article that was very critical of the effectiveness of diversity training.  These type of articles seem to come out once every six months proclaiming how recent new findings have determined that diversity training is at best mostly hype and at worst potentially damaging to organizations.

Well, I am not going to defend the diversity industry and the training effectiveness of many diversity consultants.  Because, frankly most of it does stink.  But, what the author and the researchers fail to recognize is that diversity is an inherently difficult subject to measure because of it’s complexity and senstivity to its surrounding environment and context.  Most of the research studies sited in the article reviewed surface level aspects of diversity i.e race, gender, disability etc., and failed to account for some of the more subtle aspects of diversity such as differences in thinking styles, personality, and function.  As a result, I harbor some reservations about the usefulness of such studies.

However, that being said…as I said earlier most diversity training stinks and is highly ineffective in changing attitudes, behaviors, or systemic organizational structures.   But, the researchers are missing the key point.  It is not the training that is the problem, or the way the researchers measure the training.  The problem is with the mental maps the diversity consultants and the researchers use to view diversity.  Most diversity consultants don’t realize that organizational inequalities are the primary result of not surface diversity but instead are the result of the unconscious mind (biases).  So, instead of focusing on how to help people overcome their unconscious biases consultants instead focus their training on the conscious mind.  This method of training is reflected in good vs. bad training scenarios that find their way into current diversity training sessions.

Researchers, on the otherhand have a misguided mental map that views the subtle and dynamic interplay of differences from a mechanistic viewpoint.  Because the organization gave these many diversity training sessions there should be these many minorities and females  hired and promoted.  Unfrotunately, this system of research and measurement is somewhat unreliable in the wake of the vast pools of information that is available and relevant in today’s organizations.

What I suggest is the Diversity 2.0 approach which uses simulations instead of statisitcal analysis to ascertain the effectiveness of any initative, especially diversity training.  Simulations or agent-based modelling is the best method to sue in a world that operates on a dynamic basis.  It allows for subtlties of context and individual qualities while understanding that what emerges from the dynamic interplay of differences found in an organization is often unpredictable and often non intuitive.

Check out the article below but read it with a wary eye and the knowledge that it only presents a small part of the story…



Below is link to NPR where this research is discussed



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