Fixing anti-racism training and improving diversity training

 I am on a mission. A mission to end bullying and harassment by teaching people science based approaches to stop bullying behavior. This ties into diversity and inclusion initiatives because one of the many variables that impact successful inclusion programs is the fact that when people who have traditionally been marginalized are finally included, they are often harassed by people who don't want them there. It's time we fix that. 

First, let's talk about what's not working.

1) Harassment training programs don't work. Why? Because they are based on a really bad assumption. That assumption is: if we just tell bullies to stop, they will.  They won't.

2) Bias elimination trainings don't work. Why?  While they do a good job of raising awareness of biases, but they don't actually teach people how to overcome their own biases let alone what to do if they encounter someone with really toxic biases. 

3) Diversity & Inclusion trainings don't work. Why? Same reason the harassment trainings don't work. Just explaining to people that exclusion to the victims, won't change anyone's behavior. It may raise awareness, but that's about it. Asking people who are horrible to be less horrible, isn't going to get them to change.

4) Certain sorts of training are actually pretty toxic.  I'm specific specifically about critical race theory training.  First, disclaimer, I love critical race theory. I think it's an excellent lens through which to understand historical problems and to understand the systemic nature of those problems and to understand what ALL needs to be fixed - and there is a lot that needs to be fixed.  My son is a budding historian and he will tell you, if you don't understand everyone's perspective of what happened, you don't understand what happened.  That being said, if my goal was to create a diverse yet cohesive work group, I would not give them a critical race theory training. Why? Because it would be counter productive.

We need to acknowledge that certain individuals are really really really hostile to inclusion. Hopefully, no one on your team is, but until you push them to change, you won't really know. While the critical race theory trainings are excellent at pushing people's buttons, that isn't necessarily a good way to create cohesion and inclusion.

Step back and think about what you really want to accomplish

The best way to create a training program that will work is to think about what you REALLY want to change.  What skills do you want people to learn. Raising awareness is great - but it's not positive pro-social skill. 

It's also helpful to think about what your staff really want to learn. 

If we want to create diverse yet cohesive work groups, we need to teach well meaning people how to get along with people different from them. We also need to teach well meaning people how to shut down bullies and others who are anti-inclusion. In other words, how do we make sure that our attempts at inclusion aren't sabotaged by bad actors within our organization.

Let's change our training assumptions

It's time we jettison training programs that don't work and the assumptions that are behind those training programs. Let's start teaching people what they really want to learn, which is how to stop bullying and harassment and how to be pro-active in creating diverse yet cohesive workgroups. 

Check out my website for more information

Humanism, anti-racism and the problem with bad training programs.

 Last month I published an article about dealing with a racist in the workplace. One of my readers wrote and we had a lovely exchange. They wondered why, as a Humanist, I was talking about white supremacy.

I'm not going to include my entire discussion with them here, but I do want to make something clear.

If Humanism is to mean anything, it must be about ensuring all humans are treated with dignity. If there are people who violate the dignity of others, regardless of the reason, it is the proper place of a Humanist to stand in opposition to the dehumanization of others.

I am not straying from Humanist topics when I talk about the problem of racism. I am asserting and advocating for a core humanist value, dignity for all.   All Humanists oppose supremacy and any ideology that dehumanizes our fellow humans. White supremacy is such an ideology. This isn’t controversial and I did not stray from the topic of humanism. This is literally central to the philosophy. 

Discussing what to do when someone does NOT treat other people with dignity is a valid and necessary conversation to have. I talked about white supremacy as that is the form of supremacy I encounter most often and the topic I’m most asked about when confronting racism in the workplace. 

I live in the south in a community that was literally the capital of the confederacy in Florida. We have 3 known active white supremacists groups. People in the local Facebook group actively talk about shooting black people who come into white neighborhoods and until this past Nov, we had members of the confederacy re-enactment group on our county commission. Things are getting better though, so I don't want you to think it's all bad.

My point is that, for me, white supremacy is a real threat to my real neighbors and any suggestion that it is not a problem is going to be met, by me, with disbelief, anger and frustration.

To deny white supremacy is a problem is to deny the reality I live and work in. Talking about white supremacy is a valid topic as it really exists and really is a problem.   I singled it out because not only is it the dominant form of supremacy I personally encounter.  It is the dominant form of supremacy that my clients ask me about help addressing when they ask about how to deal with racism in the workplace.  

To be fair to the person who wrote me, their company had subjected them to a diversity or harassment training that told them they were racists just for being white.  As a trainer, I am horrified that anyone would conduct such a training. I view that sort of approach as not only counter productive, but harmful and it results in exactly the sort of anger and frustration and refusal to engage that this person first approached me with.

My point. Racism is real. White supremacy is a real threat to real people. AND, some training programs and interventions designed to fix the problem are horrible and counter productive. 

The way through this is to not assume ill intent, but to listen. If you find yourself in a training that feels abusive, it may very well be. But don't let that experience shut you down to talking about race entirely.

We need to fix this problem we have. And we can only do that by staying engaged despite how difficult it is. 

And, if you are in a position to hire someone to do a diversity or harassment training, please contact me. So much of what we do starts with a false assumption and that is, if we just tell people it's a problem, the bad behavior we don't want will stop. Never in the entire history of humanity have evil people, like white supremacists, stopped being evil just because we point out the harm they are causing. Instead, we should be providing training programs that teach people who to get unwanted behavior, directed against them, to stop. That is what people want to learn, including the people who are not behaving - ideally. 

Anyway, rant over. 

The business case for more diversity

 The 20 most diverse companies in the WSJ study had an average annual stock return of 10% over five years, versus 4.2% for the 20 least-diverse companies. - BRIAN STAUFFER

One of my investment banks just sent me a notice that included a link to this WSJ article. It's about the business case for more diversity.

The followed by saying that they now demand companies they invest in show them their EEO data and that they actively have a diverse board of directors.  They are clearly taking this very seriously.

You should too.

The Benefits of Inclusion

The biggest benefit of inclusion is improved decision making. We all have blind spots. No one knows what they don't know and they don't even know they don't know it.

Inclusion policies make sure there are enough people with enough diverse experiences in the room so that when decisions are made, they benefit from the collective knowledge of the group. 

The Challenge of Inclusion

The challenge is creative diverse yet cohesive work groups. We humans are tribal by nature and we don't like not getting our way and one of the ways we ensure that we can dominate a tribe, is by excluding the people who don't agree with us. This is often done through bullying or harassment or even passive aggressive sabotage.

This is one of the main reasons why my Certified Humanistic Leadership Professional program has so much information on how to stop bullying, harassment and discrimination, even when it's in the form of passive aggressive sabotage.  

Challenging assumptions

The problem, honestly, isn't diversity. The problem is exclusion. Even if you took a homogenous group of people, someone will still try to exclude someone else from the group.  The challenge isn't how to embrace diversity. The challenge is how to stop social exclusion. 

I teach a LOT of EEO  programs. Often, I get asked to do a diversity training. They want someone to provide information on - diverse groups of people. But that request includes an assumption. The assumption is, if we just teach people that other people are human, they will start treating each other with dignity and include them.  Spoiler: it won't.  

If you want to change the culture and you want to create an inclusive culture, then focus on teaching people HOW to be inclusive and what to do if/when someone is actively excluding a member of the team. Because, it's going to happen. 

That is why my programs are about how to stop unwanted behavior, like bullying and harassment. Bullying and harassment are done to exclude people. That's why bullies do it. If you want an inclusive culture you MUST stop the bullying otherwise you will NEVER address the root problem you have, which is that some people get power over others by excluding people from a group.

Let me help you:

Most of your staff is sick of the bullying. They are sick of the exclusion that occurs. They are terrified that they will be next. If you want to change things, hire me to teach them how to stand up and make it stop using behavioral science and compassion. Your employees will thank you.

And yes, I can provide your Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) training for you.

Donut Economics

 I came across an article about donut economics and I really really really like it as a concept and way to think about HOW we organize and to what end.

Here is the link:

Basically – there is level of ecological sustainability that we cannot surpass without killing ourselves.

There is also a bottom level of social sustainability (basically poverty) below which people can’t participate in society.

The goal is to have everyone living inside the donut hole space where we have both social sustainability and ecological sustainability.

Humanistic Management and Humanistic Capitalism

If you read my blog you know that I am an advocate for both humanistic management and humanistic capitalism.

Demand drives the economy. Capitalism only works as a way to efficiently distribute resources if people CAN participate in the economy. If they can't, because they are too poor to or because they are excluded by discriminatory laws, then capitalism simply doesn't work. 

We need to be looking for ways to both eliminate poverty, but do so in a way that makes sure we don't overload our ecosystem. 

To me, it is pro-capitalist to have a social safety net. It is pro-capitalism to ensure ecological and environmental justice.  We must start rejecting the either/or false dichotomies and start looking for ways to help people and help the environment because doing both, will help the economy. 

Why am I talking about this so much?

Because as people concerned with humanistic management and humanistic leadership, we have an obligation to be leaders in this area. Our collective individual decisions is what leads to the big decisions. 

We absolutely must find the courage and the language to argue for sustainability and all that that means. We must start making the business case for this. Or nothing will change. 

Learn more: 

If you are in a leadership position and want to learn how to make better decisions consistent with the reality we all face - take my  Reality Based Decision Making Course:

If you want a more comprehensive leadership mindset shift - become a Certified Humanistic Leadership Professional.
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