A Call for Interdependence

Today’s business leaders face incredible pressure to anticipate, adapt, and produce. Unfortunately, ongoing uncertainty and increasing demands cause many to fall into the trap of over-management. And it’s not uncommon: when a system crumbles and a new one is not yet fixed in place, we get a lot of chaos and confusion.

Figuring out what’s next is not easy for business and organizational leaders. What are the questions they need to be asking in order to find clarity? How do they find a new vision, when there is ongoing uncertainty about any return to former norms?

What leaders need is a balance of independence and interdependence. They need to focus on economics and management issues, as well as how they respond to social, technological, cultural, political, environmental, and religious issues. Childcare, education, and working remotely have a tremendous impact on how they do business. Meeting after meeting leaves workers with very little time to actually do the work and complete assignments as agreed.

We need to rethink our previous assumptions about how we do business, and where we are going. What we have known about the past and assumed about the present is no longer sufficient to prepare for the future. Effective leadership requires a balance of interdependence and independence.

Interdependence versus Independence

Is your attitude about individualism based on your social class?

According to research published in 2017 by the Harvard Business Review, yes. But, it may also be shaped by your geography.

Colin Woodward, author of American Nations (Penguin Group, 2011), writes that our attitudes about interdependence and independence stem from eleven distinct regional cultures in North America.

Today, most business organizations elevate independence as the corporate culture ideal. Certainly, workplaces that support self-assertion, individual expression, and new ways of thinking/being are to be applauded, but what happens when this is valued greater than collaboration, or worse, greater than the common good?

Consider this: in Descent of Man, Darwin proposed that we humans succeeded because of our empathy and compassion. He wrote, “Those communities which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members would flourish best, and rear the greatest number of offspring.”

While there is a place for independence in every organization, effective interdependence will sustain an organization and allow it to thrive.

Toward Better Interdependence

In the November-December 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review behavioral scientist, professor, and author Francesco Gino pointed to three attitudes for effective interdependence:

  1. Respect for contributions from others
  2. Openness to experiment with ideas from others
  3. Sensitivity and self-awareness of personal actions that affect others, as well as impacts toward goals and objectives.

These three attitudes allow for true collaboration and forward progress, the hallmarks of innovation. However, in business, support is almost always highly conditional:

  • "I’ll support you as long as I know where this idea is going."
  • "I’ll support you as long as success is guaranteed."
  • "I’ll support you as long as there’s something in it for me."

And yet it’s only when we trust enough to allow something to unfold that surprising innovations happen. The goal for leaders is to manage ego, model a growth mindset, and foster trust.

It Begins with Attitude

  1. Manage ego and model effective listening:
    • Practice active listening.
    • Become comfortable with silence.
    • Be curious, without judgment.

  2. Express empathy and curiosity. Right now, expressing empathy can be more challenging for leaders: Studies have found that in an attempt to manage their own stress and anxiety, people will cognitively turn off empathy and compassion when they feel like they can’t help someone.
  3. Practice constructive feedback:
    • Ensure expectations were effectively communicated. (If not, own it.)
    • Engage in a dialog that points out what worked, and what needs improvement.
    • Discuss feedback on feedback; acknowledge natural human tendencies to resist or avoid feedback.

Better Team Interdependence Doesn’t Just Happen

If your team has transitioned to remote work and management (and/or leadership) believes that more interdependence and management is required, but team members believe otherwise, tension will be common. Employees push back when asked to attend meetings, participate in decision making, and do work. They often complain of micro-management.

Conversely, if your team members believe they need to be more interdependent, and management or other team members do not, complaints of lack of support and help are common. Either way, better management is required.

Team Interdependence: One Size Does Not Fit All

Sociologist and organizational theorist James D. Thompson identified three types of interdependence many teams use today: pooled, sequential, and reciprocal. Because team members may be operating from different (and or limited) experiences with each type of interdependence, their expectations may vary.

For example, let’s say your business is to make widgets. You offer standard widgets, as well as customized widgets. Your business is made up of production teams to reach standard widget goals and deliver quality custom widgets.

  • Level 1 interdependence pools standardized independent actions into a team effort. Each person creates a standard widget. This is referred to as pooled interdependence.
  • Level 2 interdependence requires a known sequence of standardized and modified actions into a team effort. Each person completes a portion of the process to produce a widget; an assembly line. This is referred to as sequential interdependence.
  • Level 3 interdependence is based on known and unknown sequences of known and unknown standardized and modified actions into a team effort. This is referred to as reciprocal interdependence.

The level of interdependence is also referred to as the degree of interdependence, and determines the type of management, or amount of coordination, needed.

Shift Your Management for Success

Higher degrees of interdependence reflect greater complexity, and require different types, or degrees, of management:

  • Level 1 management: When all team members are trained on and adhere to standardized processes and actions, standardization management, including reporting and communications, is efficient.
  • Level 2 management: Planning management is required for sequential interdependence. This allows managers to coordinate goals with the actions needed, including process analysis, for successful outcome. Team members may be asked to provide additional information and shift actions as needed.
  • Level 3 management: When any team member introduces new information that affects the reciprocal independence, increased communication, changes, and coordination are required. This calls for mutual adjustment management.

Great leaders help their team members understand and move through different levels of interdependence. They shift their management and coordination relative to the degree of complexity for improved productivity and efficiency. If your team members are complaining about the amount of meetings (or a lack of information), examine your level of management. It may require adjustment.

Coaching Team Interdependence and Peak Performance in a Virtual World

Coaching team interdependence and peak performance in a virtual world has its advantages. It allows you to plan, reflect, prepare, implement, and follow-up your discussions. But it’s not without its challenges. Avoid the risk of meeting burnout with these tips and best practices:

  • Explore what and why. Before you begin the conversation, explore your own expectations and attitudes about the employee. What is the expected outcome of their efforts? If there is a gap, review your communications. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding, extenuating circumstances, or, your employee is privy to information that is not on your radar. Open the conversation with an attitude of curiosity, rather than judgment.
  • Segue in to exploration of their goals: business and personal. Ask about the challenges and obstacles they are facing. Right now, most workers are doing their best to manage increased pressure and stress, and many are hesitant to share this. In some cases, it may be childcare or eldercare. Alternatively, it could be they lack the energy and creativity they found in their previous work environment.
  • Collaborate on next steps. For example, if there was a misunderstanding, identify an effective communication process that works for both of you. This could be something as simple and specific as not interrupting during a virtual meeting, or conversely, asking for clarification. If skill was the issue, identify an effective training process, including mentoring and/or online learning. For those who miss the office environment, explore how employees might be able to connect virtually for water-cooler hangouts. The key is to not jump to solutions, rather, coach them to find insights and solutions they will implement.
  • Follow-up as agreed. Be as specific as possible in your feedback, and link behavior to outcome. Whenever possible, use the 3:1 ratio: for every negative critique, share three positive observations. To reinforce lessons learned, ask how it will help them achieve their own goals. Use open questions to encourage self-discovery, and avoid micromanaging. And remember: level 3 management is reciprocal management. Your feedback should be a dialog, where you are open to ways in which you can improve, as a leader, manager, and interdependent team player.

Confrontations that Create a Win-Win-Win

What has been your experience with confrontations? When did you last initiate one?

Confronting someone for their behavior today is no easy feat, especially when emotions are easily triggered and opinions vary. When expectations are left unmet—including protocol infractions, civil disobedience, illegal behavior and everything in between—frustration, lack of accountability, and broken relationships become the norm. But those who foster positive confrontations can create win-win-win solutions.

If you’re like many of the people I speak with, you likely avoid confrontations. And I don’t blame you: we don’t want to make matters worse. But, when we say nothing, we perpetuate the problem (and in some cases, become co-conspirators.)

What if we could make a positive difference?

Most of us are not highly skilled in win-win-win confrontation. We feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. Instead, we can learn and practice positive confrontations: address the issue in a way that supports the wellbeing of self, others, and the relationship between the two.

Calculating Risks and Rewards in Confrontations

Conflicts can range from disappointments (i.e. someone not meeting our expectations) to micro aggressions, to outright dangerous and/or illegal behavior. And yet, we are often hesitant to say anything. Why is that?

Our willingness to speak up changes based on what’s at stake.  In general, most of our daily conflicts boil down to:

  • Priority or value differences
  • Behavior or communication style differences
  • Inequality (or perceived inequality)

In Crucial Accountability (McGraw-Hill Education, 2013), authors Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler share their 30+ years study on confrontations.  When they asked people why they remained (or became) silent in the presence of an injustice or violation of a social norm, the majority of responses were a version of, “it’s not worth it.” The perception was, they wouldn’t, or couldn’t, make a difference.

But here’s the thing: when a positive example of a successful confrontation is witnessed, people speak up.

According to the authors, “Provide individuals who have been disappointed or poorly treated with something to say and a way to say it that leads to the result they want, and their mental math changes. Better yet, their behavior changes. People now believe it’s in their best interest to step up to violated promises, broken commitments, and bad behavior. And they do.”

Avoid the Blame Game

One of the biggest obstacles in confronting someone is the blame game.

Consider the observation made by comedian George Carlin: anyone driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone driving faster than you is a maniac. It usually includes the question: “What is the matter with them?!”

When we ask ourselves, “What would lead a rational, reasonable, and reliable person to do that?” we move from a stance of blame to inquiry. We create a safer space for an actual exchange of ideas: the foundation for positive confrontations. When people feel safe, you can talk about almost anything.

People feel safe when they believe that:

  • They are respected as human beings; there is or could be mutual respect for the other
  • There is regard for their goals; there is or could be mutual purpose

Even in situations when you don’t know the other person, you send a message about your level of respect and regard. Positive confrontations require that you set the right tone from the offset. To pro-actively avoid or counter defensiveness, include the use of contrasting statements.

Let’s say, for example, you encounter someone at work who is not wearing a face mask, even though it is a company policy.

Lead the conversation with a contrast, such as: “I don’t want you to think that I am criticizing you, your work, or your judgment. I just want to talk about our company policy regarding face masks, and how we can best support it.” Then, you can state the policy, why it is important to you, and close with a sincere question, such as, “What do you think?”  

Listen to their response, and re-state or re-phrase what you heard them say (in positive terms and language), and ask them to commit to following company policy. Acknowledging their perspective (their thoughts, experience, feelings, and understanding) can go a long way toward mutual support, commitment, and adherence to policy.

Positive Accountability

Positive accountability is the conversation that takes place after someone has made a commitment, and failed to keep it. Like positive confrontations, they often start with the question, “Why?” They become positive accountability confrontations when both parties are able and willing to comply to a solution, and the relationship is strengthened.

Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler outlined a three-step process to address bad behavior, un-kept promises, or broken commitments that resulted in unmet expectations: CPR.

  1. Content: identify the action or event that took place (the here and now).
    1. Unbundle the problem. Identify all the elements.
    2. Identify what is bothering you the most.
    3. Be concise: communicate the issue in one (simple) sentence. It could be as simple as, “When you X, I feel Y, therefore Z.”
      For example:  “When you don’t wear a mask, I feel scared for your health and mine, therefore I would like you to wear a mask in this shared space.”

  2. Pattern: when the action or event recurs, address the pattern over time.
    1. Point out the number of times this event took place, what you had agreed to, and how the repeated actions/events affect predictability, respect, and trust.  This is different than pointing out the action or event.  It requires honesty, and respect.
    2. For example:  “It is my understanding that we agreed you would wear a mask in this public space, and this is the second time I have seen you not wearing one. I am concerned that I can’t count on you to keep your word.”
  3. Relationship: how this affects your relationship.
    1. Explore the intentions and consequences with compassionate curiosity (for you, them, and others).
    2. Share your understanding (about the content or pattern), and how you feel about the other person.
    3. Share your objectives: what you want to happen in the future for you, them, and your relationship.
    4. For example: “We agreed you would wear a mask in this public space, and this is the third time I have seen you not wearing one. This pattern is putting a strain on our relationship, and I am concerned about that. I want us to be able to trust each other, and to act with mutual respect.”

Be Aware of Your Stories

It’s easy to become hooked by our emotions, especially when the stakes are higher. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of the stories we tell ourselves before, during, and after a confrontation.

When we tell ourselves that the other person (or organization) is the villain, we often end-up telling ourselves we are the victim, and we engage our amygdala: that reptilian brain responsible for fight, flight, or freeze.

But when we recognize and address our own fears, we are better prepared for a more neutral, compassionate, curious conversation that yields a win-win-win. Curiosity is a key component that helps us find common ground.

Confrontation Best Practices for People Pleasers

Confrontation and holding others accountable is not always easy (or end with the best results!) But if you want to grow personally and professionally, you need to be willing to engage in conflict.

  • Stay in the moment. If you find yourself focusing on, or getting caught in emotions, breathe. Label the emotion: there is fear; there is anxiety; there is anger. If you need to, take a break. Pause the conversation, provide a neutral reason (I’m sorry to interrupt you, but I need to take a quick break; can I get you anything?) Resume the conversation as promised.
  • Listen more than you talk. The majority of your speaking time may be best spent asking questions to gain better understanding. Get out of the way so you can hear what’s important. Pay attention to cues. Notice body language, and what is not being said.
  • Anticipate you will have a positive outcome. There is a big difference between being liked, and being respected. Conflict is an opportunity to repair and strengthen valuable relationships. It also helps you identify malignant relationships, and when absolutely necessary, remove yourself from the relationship with minimal damage.

Confrontation in a Virtual World

Even as we become more accustomed to virtual meetings, we still need to overcome the actual and perceived distance. Here are a few tips to prepare for your positive confrontation and accountability discussions:

  • Create a sense of co-presence: the ability to feel as though you can interact effectively with another person. Know your technology capabilities and limits. Use video, and keep your environment free from distraction.
  • Practice eye contact. While it may feel awkward at first, practice gazing into the camera when speaking, and alternate the camera and view of the other person when they are speaking.
  • Be specific. As Art Markman, PhD, wrote in “How to Have Difficult Conversations Virtually,” Harvard Business Review (July 2019), “the more distant you are, the more abstractly you are likely to think about them.” Positive confrontations in a virtual world require specific feedback, not abstraction. Use the CPR method to outline your discussion, specific examples, and keep you on track. When initiating the invitation to meet, use a contrasting statement to set the tone. Review what you agreed to, and establish next steps.

Follow-Up Best Practices

After a confrontation, you may be inclined to avoid that situation or person again. But positive confrontations that create a win-win-win rely on pro-active follow-up that strengthen the relationship. 

  • Acknowledge the positive confrontation. Today, this will most likely be in the form of an email. Send a thank-you note: for their time, engagement, and honesty. Summarize the conversation and individual and collective goals. If appropriate, reiterate your agreement and next steps.
  • Reach out to build the relationship. Send an email, text, or call on an unrelated matter. This reinforces the message that you care about them, and your relationship.

How is Your Organization Fighting Racism?

How is your organization fighting racism?

A 2017 analysis of racial discrimination revealed no improvement in hiring over time. With all the diversity training and education we have received, how can this be?

To understand the collective dimensions of racism, and how different groups of colors get set-up differently, is a life-long process. Different groups have different experiences, and it’s important to learn those histories.

All people who are not perceived as white continue to experience racism. They experience it in shared ways, and in ways that are unique to their group, and their position to whiteness. However, there is something profoundly anti-black in our culture. It cuts across all groups, and is a form of state sanctioned discrimination.

You see, racism isn’t just about being racist. And it’s not something that just bad people do. Racism is a system of oppression—intentionally or not. And it hurts everyone.

Today, most organizations offer diversity training. But we need to move beyond this. We need to learn how to listen better, learn better, and take better action to correct the systems that support racism. Ultimately, this will strengthen our businesses, those we serve, and our entire society. But most importantly, it’s the right thing to do. Black lives matter. 

Key Terms for Open Discussions

In her book, White Fragility, (Beacon Press, 2018), Dr. Robin DiAngelo shares her research and experiences regarding racism, and how white people often inadvertently maintain racial inequality. You see, often times, when our assumptions about race are challenged, our reactions are counterproductive. Instead, we can learn to identify these responses and engage in open discussions where we really listen and learn. Then, we can take action.

Talking about any issue requires an understanding and agreement on key terms:

Institutional Power: the ability to disseminate your world view to everyone, and to shape how they see themselves, how they see you, and how they see themselves in relationship to you.

Racism: a system of oppression, not an event.

Racist: the traditional definition is an individual who consciously does not like people based on race, and is intentionally mean to them. The three key words are: individual, consciously, and intentionally. This definition actually protects the system of racism. It makes it virtually impossible to talk to the average white person about the inevitable absorption of a racist world view that we get from living in a culture in which it is infused and embedded across all its institutions. This definition is the root of virtually all white defensiveness on this topic. When this is your definition, and someone suggests you may have said or done something racist, the response is to defend your moral character.

Systemic racism: the collective racial prejudice backed by legal authority and institutional control. It is embedded in media, family, religion, education, language, economics, and criminal justice. Systemic racism is embedded in cultural definitions of what is normal, real, correct, beautiful, and valuable.

White fragility: what surfaces when any of the above is acknowledged or questioned.

White fragility is the inability to tolerate racial stress. Racial stress is triggered when our positions, perspectives, or advantages are challenged. White fragility functions to block the challenge and regain white racial equilibrium. It is not weakness per se; it is a powerful means of everyday white racial control as it leverages historical and institutional power to maintain positions. – Dr. Robin DiAngelo

Underlying Beliefs and Myths of Racism

Unfortunately, part of being raised as a white person in our society is to be raised functionally illiterate when it comes to racism. It’s not about being good or bad; nice or mean. According to DiAngelo, the idea that racism is a conscious bias held by mean people is the most effective adaption of racism.

In truth, racism is a system of oppression; it is a complex, multi-layered system infused in everything, everywhere, and probably in your organization, too. Even the best leaders can be blind to it.

Racism is built on a foundation of underlying beliefs, assumptions, and myths, many of which are unrecognized, let alone understood. (And I don’t have to understand it for it to be valid.)

Racism Myths

  • Nice people cannot also act in racist ways.
  • Racism can only be conscious and intentional; unaware good intentions cancels it out.
  • White people who experience oppression/have suffered cannot act in racist ways.
  • My race has no bearing on my perspective on the matter.
  • I have proximity to people of color (POC), therefore I am free of racism.
  • I have no proximity to POC, therefore I am racially innocent.
  • My learning is finished/I know all I need to know.

Other beliefs that support racism:

  • As a white person, I will be the judge of whether racism has occurred.
  • I am qualified to determine whether the experiences of POC are legitimate.
  • If I don’t understand it, it isn’t legitimate.
  • As a white person, I know the best way to challenge racism.
  • I have no accountability to POC, yet I am confident that I am free of racism.
  • White people are objective on racism.

The Real Truth

  • The racial status quo is maintained by white comfort; change will be uncomfortable.
  • Comfort is not the same as safety; white people are safe in discussions about racism.
  • Feedback on white racism is difficult to give; feedback from POC is a gift and indicates trust.
  • Feelings of guilt are normal, and the antidote is action.
  • It takes courage to break with white solidarity; support those that do.
  • Interrupting racism is more important than a leader’s feelings, ego, or self-image. Humility is key. Expect to grapple as you grow.

When a leader is willing to listen, reflect, and learn, change is possible.

How Your Organization Supports Racism

Consider this: most people grow up in segregation. They live their entire life in a segregated neighborhood or community and never have any consistent, ongoing, authentic relationship with people of a different color. For white people, the message is that there is no inherent value in those from whom they are segregated: people of color have no value.

And yet, many white people believe they were taught that everyone is the same. However, this is not humanly possible: socialization does not work in this manner. And unfortunately, this miseducation carries into our adulthood, and in to our places of work.

The Pillars of Racism

  • Individualism: an idea that each of us is unique, and outside of socialization. The belief that society exists for the benefit of individual people, who must not be constrained by government interventions or made subordinate to collective interests. Often equated with the ideology, moral stance, political philosophy, or social outlook that emphasizes the moral worth of an individual.
  • Universalism: an idea that we are all the same. Unfortunately, in the physical realm, universalism functions to take race and power off the table. It denies the fundamentally different experiences of persons of color, and that racism exists. While race isn’t real, the very superficial signifiers that allow us to categorize people are very real and there are consequences. An insistence that we are all the same/one doesn’t allow us to engage with this social reality.
  • White Supremacy: a system in which whiteness, and white people, are central and seen as inherently superior to people of color. It is (typically) not a choice—we are born into it—but we are responsible for changing it, because, the default of our society is the reproduction of racism. It is built into every system in every institution. If we just live our lives and carry on in the most comfortable ways for us, we will necessarily reproduce it. There is no neutral place. Inaction is a form of action.
  • Internalized superiority/Investment in the racial order: internalization of white supremacy and reliance on inequality as further proof, as well as individual and group social security, prosperity, and sustainability. Society reinforces the message, “it is better to be white.”
  • Good/Bad Binary: binary opposition is the system of language (and/or thought) in which two theoretical opposites are strictly defined and set-off against one another. When we (consciously or unconsciously) identify people or groups of people as good or bad, we engage in a divide and conquer strategy. One of the most effective adaptations of racism since the Civil Rights Era is the idea that a racist is a bad person, and if you’re not racist, you’re a good person. This binary is the number one construct that keeps racism in place today and makes it nearly impossible to talk to white people about racism. Our defensiveness comes from the good/bad binary; what we hear is, “you are a bad person.” This binary suggests that one can’t be a good person and be complicit in racism. However, racism is a system that we are all a part of.
  • Implicit Bias: an unconscious thought or preference for or against certain people or groups, which typically leads to outward (explicit) discrimination. According to DiversityInc’s CEO Carolynn Johnson, it is the most insidious problem affecting workplaces worldwide.

Counter Learned Socialization and Implicit Bias in Your Organization

As much as we’d like to believe otherwise, our society teaches racism. And, our institutions often support it. The best leaders examine their implicit bias, take action to mitigate their biases, and dismantle policies and systems that support inequity. Oftentimes, the first step is to recognize our own learned socialization.

Learned Socialization

Consider your own childhood:

  • Was your neighborhood racially diverse? If not, why?
  • Where did people of different (from you) races live?
  • What was their neighborhood like? How do you/did you know this?
  • Were you encouraged to visit different neighborhoods? What about neighborhoods where people of different (from you) races lived? Did you get to know anyone?
  • What were the characteristics of a good school? What about a bad school?
  • Was your school/district a priority or concern for your parents? If so, why?
  • Were all classes (advanced to special needs) equally racially integrated? If not, why not?
  • How frequently were you and your teachers of the same race?
  • Reflecting on your entire life, how often have you been to a wedding that was virtually all white? What about a funeral?
  • What are some of the ways in which your race has shaped your life?

If you haven’t already, complete the Implicit Association Test (IAT), also known as the Harvard Study of Bias (Project Implicit). The IAT measures our hidden attitudes and beliefs. You see, bias and racism rely on our racialization: the grouping of people based on perceived physical differences, most commonly, the color of their skin.

Counter Implicit Bias

Of course, becoming aware of our hidden bias is just the beginning. We need to take steps to counter implicit bias. One technique that works is visualization.

At the beginning of your day, visualize the tasks you must complete. Close your eyes, and picture those you might encounter for the first time. What do they look like? Notice if they are a man, woman, or non-binary. What is their skin color?

Now, picture an alternative. Open yourself to different possibilities, and normalize these: make it expected.

For white people, the immediate future requires us to accept that implicit bias exists. Then, we must be focused on what Black people are really facing. We must break our silence.

Break the Silence of Racism in Your Organization

White leaders face two common challenges in cross-racial discussions:

  • The fear of making a mistake and losing face
  • Certitude regarding racial perspectives (and negating open dialog that results in learning)

To address these challenges, DiAngelo has created a list of Silence Breakers for white people: statements or questions that promote curiosity, open dialog, and learning. Here are just a few examples:

  • I’m really nervous/scared/uncomfortable to say this…and/but…
  • It feels risky to say this and/but…
  • I’m afraid I may offend someone, and please let know if I do, but…
  • I just felt something shift in the room. I’m wondering if anyone else did.
  • I’m still working through/processing this, but right now where I am at is…

Such “I” statements are helpful to keep the responsibility and accountability on the speaker.  They also work well in a group situation, which allow leaders to model the behavior of authentic engagement.

Examine Your Accountability Practices

Leaders must also examine their personal and organizational accountability practices. For example:

  • How do you engage and challenge yourself in a conscious, intentional, and ongoing understanding of your participation in racism?
  • What anti-racism systems of support have you put in to place, for yourself, and groups within your organization?
  • How frequently do you participate in feedback conversations with a person of color, who is not your friend or spouse?

Examine Your Hiring and Promotion Practices

Review all hiring and promotion practices for unintentional discrimination and disparities. This should be done by a diverse committee, and include three critical components:

  • Collection of data: regardless of the size of your organization, you should be able to sort applicant, hiring, and employee promotion data for any disparities. If you don’t have a system in place, create one now.
  • Analysis of your data: If you find any disparities, determine how and why.
  • Correction of any flaws in your practices: create pre-determined, objective criteria for hiring and promotion. Review for concrete, objective indicators and outcomes to reduce standard stereotypes. This should include: structured resume review, interviews, and evaluations to assess individual contributions for promotion.

What Not to Do

While it’s imperative to have cross-racial discussions, it’s not up to people of color to carry the burden.

  • Don’t ask your Black co-workers/colleagues/employees to point out specific racism to a group of white people.
  • Don’t stop learning. For more information, check out this reading list for leaders, recommended by DiversityInc.com