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Diversity In Primary Schools Promotes Harmony, Study Finds

September 3, 2009 3 comments

For the first time, children as young as 5 have been shown to understand issues regarding integration and separation. The research confirms that the ethnic composition of primary schools has a direct impact on children’s attitudes towards those in other ethnic groups and on their ability to get on with their peers.

Obviously, starting kids at a young age on how to get along with others that are different can go a long way to making us better together.  Diversity is truly a value-added proposition.

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Categories: diversity, predjudice Tags: , ,

No Such Thing as Ethnic Groups…It is All in Our Head Study Reveals.

September 1, 2009 2 comments

090831212951A recent study from my favorite source the Science Daily reported that ethnic groups are a creation of our minds and not grounded in genetic reality.  What substitutes for what we think are ethnic differences are really the result of social rules and norms we have created to erect barriers between groups.  Probably as a way to promote the status of our own respective ingroup.  Which is wholly grounded in the science of evolutionary psychology.  The study also  stated that there is more genetic difference between the same members of an ingroup then there are between different groups.  In other words two European Americans may have less genetic material in common than a European and African American respectively.

What this means: This research suggests that our whole paradigm or perspective must change to meet the reality of the real world.  Just like our basic understanding of the world had to change when it was determined that the earth was flat.  So to is the need for a mindshift of our current mindset which promotes that skin color is a real source of genetic difference between people.   Leaders who get their followers to understand there is much more that connects us together than there are differences that tear us apart.  However, it is the differences if levaraged correctly that can provide the extra boost to excel past competitors.

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Categories: diversity, predjudice Tags: ,

Disrespect is tough to Forgive and to Forget…

August 31, 2009 4 comments

A new report just came out outlining the impact of unfair treatment in the workplace.  This report makes it clear that disrespect in the workplace degrades employee performance significantly and is something that is hard to overcome for the respective employee. 

The key from a Diversity2.0 standpoint is to focus on creating a culture of connectedness where employees feel connected to each other, their leaders, and their organizational mission and values. 

Done right, diversity is first about creating a basic level of respect, fairness, and opportunity in the workplace.  For leaders to establish respect treat everyone like they could be your boss next year.  To be fair know the strengths and weaknesses of your workforce and treat them accordingly.  And to create opportunity for everyone understand that your job is to help them reach their potential.

Read the article here

Categories: diversity Tags: ,

The Unconscious and Success Linked to Initials of One’s Name…

August 28, 2009 1 comment

A fascinating article is posted in science daily about the power of the unconscious and it’s link to success and the initials of one’s name.  In the article researchers were able to connect the success of students with the initials of their name.  For instance,  if students had initials that contained the letters A or B they were more likely to get an A or B in the class.  Likewise, if their initials contained the letters C or D they were more likely to get a C or D in the class.  Furthermore, the researchers found a correlation between names and initials and where people decided to live and even who they decided to marry.  As an example, Phillip was more prone to move to Philadelphia and marry Pamela.

From a diversity standpoint this further illustrates the power of the unconscious to shape what most of us consider to be rational and consciously considered decisions.  What we now know instead is that even the most arcane decisions we make are not only orginated in our unconscious but in essence controlled by our unconscious.  How many organizational systems in the workplace that we consciously and logically consider to be fair, but are instead in herently unfair due to the power of our unconscious.  A good example is the hiring practices in many workplaces.  Most of these practices include a face to face interview, some sort of test, and in some intances a performance demonstration.  I wonder how many of these “fair” hiring systems are really subconsciously unfair and lead us to hire people like us.

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In Professor’s Model Diversity = Productivity

August 26, 2009 3 comments

cover-of-the-differenceBelow is a link to the New York Times and an interview with Scott E. Page who is a Professor at the University of Michigan.  Mr. Page published a book last year called,”The Difference” which made a compelling and researched based case on why diversity is so important.  His use of Complex Adaptive Systems thinking and other “21st century sciences” is the underlying premise of my Diversity 2.0 book.  The interview is fascinating and the book is pretty good to but might be a bit hard to read in some parts for those of us without a science background.

read the article

Watch Professor Page’s Talk here

How our segregated neighborhoods reflect our segregated workplaces

August 20, 2009 4 comments

PBS produced a documentary with a corresponding website titiled,”Race: The Power of an Illusion”.  This documentarywhere race lives details all the major issues surrounding race, it’s legacy, it’s origination, and the discrimination and predjudice that still exists today as a result of racial bigotry.

The current atmosphere in today’s business world is that the isms (racism, sexism, etc., ) are not the problem that they used to be.  Today, diversity practitioners (myself included) seem to moving toward unconscious biases as the basis for diversity discussions. ( In my opinion this is a good thing.)  However, it needs to be understood that the discussion of unconscious biases is a strategy to get to the much harder discussion of race, class, sexual orientation, and gender.

This is where the PBS website and documentary on Race can become a powerful tool.  Of particular interest is how the government through small  institutional discrimination set up a system which snowballed into significant advantages for the majority.  Unfortunately, because most don’t realize this history or dynamic they attribute minority poverty to a lack of group motivation and a disconnected culture.

This same dynamic can be applied to the workplace.  Historically company promotion, hiring, and development systems were set up to favor the majority group over minority groups.  In some instances these discriminatory processes were minor in their application but significant in their impact.  This relates back to my discussions of complexity science and it’s underlying architecture social network theory.  From the complexity science perspective simple rules originating from initial conditions can create long term and significant outcome differences.

In the case of the housing market most americans get a majority of their wealth from the ownership of their home.  This gives them an advantage against other groups who don’t have the same type of access to capital due to their lack of home ownership.  Subsequently, it is much more difficult to send their kids to college, pay for medical expenses, or live in neighborhods with a high level of social capital.

In addition,our organizations reflect this same “spiraling” dynamic as our neighborhoods .  Small initial advantages have mushroomed into deeply embedded systems that were built to give one group an advantage over another group.  These seemingly subtle advantages are hard to change because the continued repetition of the process has shaped the mental models and consequently the behaviors of those within the system.  As a result, a program like Affirmative Action that was devised to ensure every member was given a fair chance to succeed in the organization is alternatively viewed as an unfair advantage given to minority groups by those with little knowledge of the unfair advantage they enjoy by just being in the system. 

The ability of us to change society is I believe predicated on our ability to change the workplace.  Read the PBS link below and let me know what you think…

Where Race Lives

Beyond Diversity: Becoming a Culturally Competent Organization

August 11, 2009 1 comment

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There is an interesting article in the 2007 IVEY Business Journal. It is called, “Diversity: Becomig a Culturally Competent Organization”.   The article details the diversity initiative of BMO, one of Canada’s largest financial firms.  What is interesting is how the firm utilized a focus on Equal Opportunity and then built it’s diversity initative around the four core diversity components that I have discussed in prior presentations.  Those four are mind-set, team, system, and leadership.  To have a successful diversity initiative each one of these areas have to be addressed in a specific and context-driven manner.

Of course, as I have stated numerous times unless a company first emphasizes the Equal Opportunity function first there is almost no chance of the respective company achieving diversity success.  EO is the foundation and driving force of a successful diversity initiative.  The EO perspective should be focused on instilling respect, opportunity, and fairness within the framework of the organization.  Once these perspectives are accomplished it is easier for employees to become engaged in the “higher level” motivational pushes that most companies apply to improve their diversity posture.

Take Away:

  • Successful diversity initiatives first emphasize the importance of Equal Opportunity.  They do this by focusing on respect, fairness, and opportunity
  • There are four core diversity components that must be addressed and involved to ensure success. They are leadership, mind-set, team-work, and systems
  • The three goals of diversity should be to combat bias, establish accountability, and create motivated networks that are energized to achieve organizational goals.

read article here