Combatting racism in the workplace - positively.

What tips and strategies can I share on how employers can cultivate a workplace that combats racism and inspires diversity and inclusion?  I'm glad you asked.

I approach these issues from a behavioral perspective – assuming MOST people are good.

The key to getting the workplace culture you want – is to ACTIVELY reward the behavior you want and redirect the behavior you don’t want – to the behavior you do want and then – positively reward the good behavior.

Most people respond really well to this. Most people want a workplace culture to change. Whether the problem is racism, sexism or just plain old fashioned bullying – most people want to work in a supportive work environment.

Managers and leaders – need to set up systems where positive supportive behavior is noticed and encouraged and rewarded. For example: in meetings, maybe – people who give space for other people to talk – can be acknowledged and thanked for helping to make sure everyone is included ad heard.  Rewards don’t have to be monetary,  often it is enough – to just thank the person for being a good person.

What should you do if you are in a meeting and someone says something inappropriate?  Delta, redirect, positively reinforce.  Issue a delta – which is just – stopping and resetting what is going on.  No judgement – just – let’s reset. Redirect means – the reset is a restatement of cultural expectations that everyone is included and treated with dignity within the organization. Disagreements are to be professional, not personal. Then let the person who misstepped – correct themselves. Then immediately thank them and give them props for a successful and professional reset.

This should work with MOST employees as most employees mean well – but may have biases and habits that are not appropriate anymore and have to be relearned. But this doesn’t mean it will work with everyone.  The reality is – some people – are white supremacists and will not change. Those people – once they surface – have to be fired. There is not way to create a professional workplace where everyone is included when one of your employees (or more) is actively working to counter that ideal.

How will you know?  It will be hard at first. Whenever you create cultural change or behavioral change in a group, people will resist it. But if you keep positively reinforcing it and don’t ever allow the “old ways” that were – honestly – rather racist AND sexist – from working – eventually – most people will get on board and start responding positively to the positive reinforcement of the new norms.

Expect some resistance. Change is hard. But here is the key to finding and eliminating people who are actively racist/sexist. Consistency. Most people resist, and then change and embrace what they are positively reinforced for doing. Racists/sexist – will resist, then resist more, then resist more – and eventually will be super overt in their anger and resistance when racism and sexism stops working for them and they are no longer able to control group dynamics by excluding certain people.  Those are the people you need to fire. 

A lot of times, this is where companies fail. They think the racist/sexist is too important to the success of the organization to let go – and so – they allow it to continue. Racists/sexists are harming your productivity and your organization will be WAY more effective if you eliminate the people preventing your other employees from contributing.

So – positively reward the behavior you want. Delta, redirect then positively reinforce stumbles. Fire anyone who refuses to change.

I do have training on a lot of these topics – from a behavioral perspective.

Transformation and the Future

We are in a period of societal transformation, it's global in nature and it's difficult. The good news - is we can decide what we want our future to be like.

I am a Humanist and I am actually - still optimistic about the future. I understand we are living in very scary times. And that the future is uncertain.  I also understand that - we are in a period of transformation and it's up to us to decide what the future will be.  Will we choose optimism? Or despair?  That choice is ours. 

There is a difference between making money helping people solve problems - and selling people solutions they don't need and that don't work

I meet a lot of people. Many - are focused on making money. They don't care how they make it - only that they make it. And I get it. I've been there. I've struggled to make ends meet. We qualified for medicaid at one point when both my husband and I were unemployed. I don't EVER want to go there again.

The problem with focusing on how YOU make money - is that it is very hard to run a business that is based on YOU making money. And the reason for that is because - if you focus on you - you aren't focused on your customers.

I have nothing against the profit motive. I am motivated by profit. It's just that - I also understand that asking people to purchase any of my fine courses - because I need money - isn't going to make them purchase my courses.

If I want them to take one of my courses or to hire me - I need to help them solve a problem THEY have.   Bonus - if I actually help them solve their problem well and ethically and at a fair price.

I don't sell people things they don't need or that don't work. That's what charlatans do. They disdain their clients as rubes and exploit them. THAT is not the Humanist way.

A Humanist approaches capitalism and the market - with fairness in mind. The exchange between customer and supplier - is fundamentally - fair.  As Maya MacGuineas, the president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget wrote in a recent Atlantic article, "In a well-functioning market, consumers have the freedom to act in their own self-interest and to maximize their own well-being. Prices are transparent, and people have a basic level of trust that exchanges of goods, services, and money benefit all parties." -

A sense of transparency and fairness for both the consumer and the seller - is crucial. Yes - there are lots of sellers that violate that trust and do - on demand pricing to maximize that profit.  If you go to my website -you will see - I post all my prices. I do offer group discounts - but that is also transparent. I give individual discounts to existing customers as a thank you for supporting my work.

If you are honest with yourself - you want to work with sellers who are honest, compassionate and will treat you fairly and who will give you a good service that will really solve your problem.

So be that business for others. It is possible to both make money AND run an ethical business. That is what we should all be striving for.   Don't exploit your customers and don't exploit your employees.  Make your money by helping people solve their problems, honestly and fairly.

And if you are in the market for professional and personal development training or harassment/bullying training that is based in science and compassion and that will actually work - check out the programs I offer. Thanks.

Disagreements are rarely about values - and almost always about facts

I once participated in a just war workshop at an American Humanist Association conference. We all agreed on what constituted a just war. But when we looked at specific wars - we could not agree on whether any given war or conflict was just or not. How could that happen when we all agreed what a just war was morally?

Because - we all had different information. To reach consensus - we share information and integrate that information into our thinking.

I think - we largely - don't do that anymore. It isn't modeled for us - and it's not valued. When I get questions from people about disagreements - it's usually framed in a: how do I get other people to agree with me - framework.

This is a very self centered framework to think about disagreements. You are right and the other person is wrong - so the problem is - how do I get them to agree with me - that I am right.

We all do this - so I know you - as well as I - see ourselves in that description.

The solution is to understand your role and what is going on differently.

1) Ask yourself - what if you are wrong and the other person is right?  Shocking to think - but it is possible. When you do this - you stop trying to prove you are right and start trying to figure out how you might be wrong.  This sort of disagreement is not about winning anymore. It's about learning. And no - you don't need the other person to agree with you to approach things this way - this is about you. And your responsibilities.

2) Find out what the moral reasoning the other person is using. I assure you - the other person is moral.  Disagreements are almost NEVER about values. They are often about what we value most - but not whether we value it. So - ask them questions. Why is their proposal - moral for them? Do they acknowlege your values as well? Probably they do - but they place them lower than other moral considerations. This can lead to interesting conversations about how we weigh moral values against each other. But even if it doesn't - you can still learn a lot by asking these questions.

3) Do you have your facts right? What "facts" are they working from and are those "facts" true or not. If you are doing the first two things - they should be open to correction. But ONLY if you are ALSO - open to correction. If they aren't - don't fight them. Sometimes all you can do is introduce doubt. It's like planting a seed. You might not be there when the doubt reaches fruition - but that's ok.  If that is where they are - then consider planting doubt - a win.

These are the skills I teach in my online course - Socratic Jujitsu - how to win arguments without arguing.

This program is also included in my certificate in applied Humanistic Leadership -

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