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NEPDEC logo | 570-207-1540

The mission of NEPDEC is to create a more inclusive, dynamic culture and to prepare for increasingly complex and diverse workplaces. NEPDEC is committed to breaking down barriers of inequities and exclusion by recognizing the unique traits and characteristics of our constituents.

The recent tragic and senseless death of George Floyd and others reminds us of the continued injustices against people of color in our country. We feel anger, despair, and a sense of hopelessness over his loss and are ashamed by the lack of progress we have made as a nation in achieving social justice for all citizens.

We are compelled to amplify our voices by challenging biases and institutional barriers that preserve economic and social inequality.

This means rooting out inequities including systemic racism by tackling these issues constructively within our own organizations and with our communities.

NEPDEC’s goals are to provide educational programming to support equity initiatives; organize networking events to promote interaction and sharing; build strong alliances among historically underserved populations; and share important educational and other resources to support diversity, equity, and inclusion. We believe that collaboration and leveraging our regional resources is crucial for efforts to succeed.

As part of our ongoing commitment, we invite you to join us for a Community Conversation on how we can work together as a region to progress on these issues.

Sign up by email to join our network or community organizers, and to receive details on when that conversation will take place. You may also call us at 570-207-1540.

Video: Culturally Competent Patient Care—LGBT Patients

Culturally Competent Care—LGBT Patients
Donnie Perkins
Vice President, Diversity & Inclusion
University Hospitals

Shane Snowdon
Director, Health and Aging Program
Human Rights Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign will detail its Healthcare Equality Index assessing whether healthcare facilities provide equitable care to LGBT patients, and University Hospitals will tell you how it developed successful outreach programs for the LGBT community.

To access the presentation slides, go to DiversityInc Best Practices.

Donnie Perkins

DonniePerkins310Donnie Perkins is the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at University Hospitals, Cleveland Ohio. He works collaboratively with key stakeholders to integrate diversity and inclusion into the fabric of the organization in support of the UH mission, vision and core values.  He oversees the coordination of diversity and inclusion initiatives across the system. His duties include creating and coordinating a strategic approach to diversity and inclusion, providing leadership and focus for diversity affairs, developing and leading a system-wide structural framework for diversity efforts, creating and managing a measurement system that represents a meaningful benchmark for diversity and inclusion efforts; serves as a liaison between UH community organizations, businesses and agency leaders, and establishes new partnerships with external constituencies.

Prior to joining the leadership team at University Hospitals, Mr. Perkins served as Dean and Director of the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity at Northeastern University in Boston, MA for 13 years.

Mr. Perkins is currently pursing a Doctorate in Law and Policy at Northeastern University. Mr. Perkins is a graduate of Central State University, Wilberforce, Ohio and received a Masters of Science in Executive Management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Hartford, Conn.  Mr. Perkins was a Ford Foundation Fellow in the Education Policy Fellowship Program, completed the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Management Development Program in 1998 and the American Association of Colleges and University’s Millennium Leadership Institute in 2002.

Shane Snowdon

Snowdon310Shane Snowdon, MA, heads the LGBT Health & Aging Program of the Human Rights Campaign. Prior to joining HRC, Snowdon was Founding Director of the Center for LGBT Health & Equity at the University of California San Francisco, for 14 years the nation’s only LGBT office in a healthcare or health education setting. She has provided LGBT health training and consulting for hundreds of hospitals, health professional schools, and other health organizations throughout the country, and she has convened numerous LGBT health conferences. She has also written extensively on LGBT health, and served as Project Adviser for The Joint Commission’s LGBT Field Guide (2011).

In previous work, Snowdon was Executive Director of a national women’s health group, an urban domestic violence agency, a citywide training program for ex-inmates, and a regional environmental center. She was also Editor/Publisher of the national publication Sojourner, and has been widely published on LGBT and women’s issues.

Facts Figures Black History Month

Black History Month
1619 Dutch ship brings 20 Africans to Jamestown, Va., the first enslaved
Africans in the U.S.
1793 Eli Whitney’s new cotton gin increases demand for slaves
1793 Congress passes Fugitive Slave Act, making it a federal crime to assist a slave trying to escape
1808 Congress bans importation of slaves 1820 Missouri Compromise bans slavery
above the southern border of the state
1831 Nat Turner leads largest slave rebellion prior to Civil War
1849 Harriet Tubman escapes to Philadelphia and subsequently
helps about 300 enslaved people to freedom via the Underground Railroad
1857 In Dred Scott v. Sanford, U.S. Supreme Court declares that Blacks are not
citizens of the U.S. and that Congress cannot prohibit slavery
1859 John Brown leads raid of U.S. Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, W.Va.
1861 South secedes from Union and Civil War begins
1863 President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring “all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free”
1865 Civil War ends
1865 Thirteenth Amendment is ratified, prohibiting slavery
1868 Fourteenth Amendment is ratified, allowing Blacks to become citizens
1870 Fifteenth Amendment is ratified, guaranteeing that right to vote cannot be denied because of race, color or previous condition of servitude
1870 Hiram Revels becomes first Black member of Congress
1896 U.S. Supreme Court rules in Plessy v. Ferguson that segregation doesn’t
violate the 14th Amendment’s equal- protection clause as long as conditions provided are “separate but equal”
1900 William H. Carney becomes first Black to be awarded Medal of Honor
1909 NAACP is founded
1926 Carter G. Woodson establishes
“Negro History Week”
1940 Hattie McDaniel becomes first Black to win an Academy Award
1947 Jackie Robinson becomes first Black to play Major League Baseball
1950 Ralph J. Bunche becomes first Black to win the Nobel Peace Prize
1953 Willie Thrower becomes first Black to play quarterback in the National
Football League
1954 In Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, U.S. Supreme Court rules that racial segregation in public schools violates the 14th Amendment
1955 Two white men who confessed to murdering a 14-year-old Black boy,
Emmett Till, for allegedly whistling at a white woman are acquitted by an all-white juryIN A BOX1955 Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in Montgomery, Ala., leading to theMontgomery Bus Boycott

1957 Little Rock Nine integrate Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas

1960 Four Black students stage famous sit- in at a whites-only Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C.
1961 Freedom rides begin from Washington, D.C.
1962 James Meredith becomes first Black student to enroll at the University
of Mississippi. Violence prompts President Kennedy to send in 5,000 federal troops
1963 More than 200,000 people march on Washington, D.C., in the largest civil- rights demonstration in U.S. history; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gives his
“I Have a Dream” speech
1963 Four young Black girls are killed in the bombing of a Birmingham, Ala., church
1964 President Johnson signs Civil Rights Act of 1964, giving the government more power to protect citizens against race, religion, sex or national-origin discrimination
1965 Malcolm X, former minister in the Nation of Islam and civil-rights activist, is assassinated
1965 Thousands participate in three protest marches from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., for Black voting rights
1965 President Johnson signs Voting Rights Act of 1965
1967 Thurgood Marshall becomes first Black U.S. Supreme Court justice
1967 In Loving v. Virginia ruling, Supreme Court declares law prohibiting
interracial marriages to be unconstitutional
1968 Dr. King is assassinated
1968 President Johnson signs Civil
Rights Act of 1968, which prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of housing
1972 Shirley Chisholm becomes first major-party Black candidate to run for president
1983 Vanessa Williams becomes first Black Miss America
1984 Reverend Jesse Jackson becomes first Black to make serious bid for
1986 First observation of Dr. King’s birthday as a national holiday
1990 Douglas Wilder of Virginia becomes first Black to be elected governor
1991 President George H.W. Bush signs Civil Rights Act of 1991, which strengthens laws on employment discrimination
1993 Dr. Joycelyn Elders becomes first Black Surgeon General
2001 General Colin Powell becomes first Black Secretary of State
2009 Barack Obama becomes first Black president
2014 Hundreds gather in various protests across the country after grand juries decline to indict Michael Brown’s and Eric Garner’s killers

Hidden Biases: The Most Dangerous Enemy

Have you ever noticed that the greatest dangers in life are those that you can’t see? A diagnosable disease may be nasty, but at least you can do more about it than a vague malaise that you hardly notice, but which is eating away at your health and well-being. Whether it be in my workplace or my body, I would rather have a problem I can see and fix than something subtle and elusive.

Bias is one of those problems that can be either obvious and fixable or illusive and undiagnosable. I know, for example, a manufacturing company which recently discovered that some of its employees are members of the Ku Klux Klan. By contrast, there’s the CEO who suspects that bias is keeping her gay employees from moving up in the company but she can’t quite identify where the problem lies. Who is in bigger trouble? Clearly the CEO whose problem is most difficult to spot.

I call this kind of subtle bias “Guerilla Bias.”™ Like “guerilla warfare” in which the enemy hides behind beautiful foliage, “Guerilla Bias.”™ is difficult to see because it lies concealed in the foliage of what we think of as good intentions, kind words, and so-called thoughtful acts. “Guerilla Bias”™ is dangerous because it is hidden. It is also dangerous because it is based on the unconscious premise that women, minorities, the disabled, and those who are outside the so-called “majority” population are somehow fragile, quick to explode, or in need of special treatment.

Managers can be particularly guilty of this type of “Guerilla Bias.”™ It shows up in their reluctance — read: “fear” — to provide negative, constructive feedback to minorities and women. Take, for example, the case of Susan, a young Filipina at a Jersey City hospital. She looked at me with complete bewilderment as I struggled to figure out why she and the other Filipinas on her floor were not performing as well as non-Filipino nurses. Practically in tears, she said, “Nobody ever tells us what we are doing wrong.” Susan, like millions of other potentially valuable employees, will never be able to move up in the organization and is clearly lost to an industry which is ever-hungry for qualified, dedicated health care professionals. Without feedback and carefully delineated goals, productivity suffers and un-coached employees like Susan begin to “measure down” to management’s expectations.

Not only are valuable employees left behind, but lack of appropriate feedback has other costs as well. For example, if a supervisor fails to provide needed feedback to a minority or female employee, fellow team members are apt to perceive of that person as being coddled or held to a lower standard thus creating fertile ground for feelings of racism or sexism.

Another type of “Guerilla Bias”™ involves our old friend political correctness. Political correctness makes sense — to a point. There was a time for speech reform. An important message, for example, was sent when we called a halt to the universal use of the pronoun “he.” However, what started out as a reasonable adjustment has mutated into a way to conceal bias. Too many of us carefully choose the best politically correct term, phrasing, or even point of view because that gives us the illusion that we have no biases. In fact, the excessive use of political correctness can mask, even from ourselves, the biases that we have.

Anyone, from any group, of either gender, or of any color can be guilty of “Guerilla Bias.”™ The first step to defeating it is to be honest with ourselves about how we really feel about other groups. Having a bias is not the end of the world; the only shame involved is if we make no effort to improve. The second step is to expose ourselves to the very people who make us uncomfortable. This exposure, along with the knowledge we gain from it, will gradually diffuse the fear and eventually weaken even our most deeply hidden biases.

Originally posted on Dr. Thiederman’s site: Opening Gateways to Understanding

Sondra Thiederman is a speaker and author on diversity, bias-reduction, and cross-cultural issues. She is the author of Making Diversity Work: Seven Steps for Defeating Bias in the Workplace (Chicago: Dearborn Press, 2003) which is available at her web site or at She can be contacted at:

Sondra Thiederman, Ph.D.
Cross-Cultural Communications
4585 48th Street
San Diego, CA 92115
Phones: 619-583-4478 / 800-858-4478
Fax: 619-583-0304 /

The WBI 3-Step Action Plan

What Bullied Targets Can Do

Three things that are simple to list, but very difficult to accomplish. It’s an uphill, David ‘n Goliath, struggle.

Step One – Name it! Legitimize Yourself!

  1. Choose a name — bullying, psychological harassment, psychological violence, emotional abuse — to offset the effect of being told that because your problem is not illegal, you cannot possibly have a problem. This makes people feel illegitimate. The cycle of self-blame and anxiety begins.
  2. The source of the problem is external. The bully decides how to target and how, when, and where to harm people. You did not invite, nor want, the systematic campaign of psychological assaults and interference with your work. Think about it. No sane person wakes up each day hoping to be humiliated or berated at work.
  3. There is tremendous healing power in naming. Hard to believe at first, but very true.

Step Two – Take Time Off to Heal & Launch a Counterattack

Accomplish five (5) important tasks while on sick leave or short-term disability (granted by your physician).

  1. Check your mental health with a professional (not the employer’s EAP). Get emotionally stable enough to make a clear-headed decision to stay and fight, or to leave for your health’s sake. Your humanity makes you vulnerable; it is not a weakness, but a sign of superiority. Work Trauma, by definition, is an overwhelming, extraordinary experience.
  2. Check your physical health. Stress-related diseases rarely carry obvious warning signals (e.g., hypertension – the silent killer). Read the current research on work stress and heart disease.
  3. Research state and federal legal options (in a quarter of bullying cases, discrimination plays a role). Talk to an attorney. Maybe a demand letter can be written. Look for internal policies (harassment, violence, respect) for violations to report (fully expecting retaliation).
  4. Gather data about the economic impact the bully has had on the employer. Put dollars and cents to each instance of turnover (at least 2x the salary of the person affected) to include all expenses associated with replacement (recruitment, demoralization from understaffing, interviewing, lost time while newbie learns job), and absenteeism, and lost productivity from interference by the bullying.
  5. Start job search for next position.

Step Three – Expose the Bully

The real risk was sustained when you were first targeted (you have a 64% chance of losing your job – involuntarily or by choice for your health’s sake). It is no riskier to attempt to dislodge the bully. Retaliation is a certainty. Have your escape route planned in advance. Remember, good employers purge bullies, most promote them.

  1. Make the business case that the bully is “too expensive to keep.” Present the data gathered (in Step 2) to let the highest level person you can reach (not HR) know about the bully’s impact on the organization. Obviously in family-owned, or small businesses, this is impossible (so leave once targeted).
  2. Stick to the bottom line. If you drift into tales about the emotional impact of the bully’s harassment, you will be discounted and discredited.
  3. Give the employer one chance. If they side with the bully because of personal friendship (“he’s a great conversationalist and a lunch buddy”) or rationalize the mistreatment (“you have to understand that that is just how she is”), you will have to leave the job for your health’s sake. However, some employers are looking for reasons to purge their very difficult bully. You are the internal consultant with the necessary information. Help good employers purge.
  4. The nature of your departure — either bringing sunshine to the dark side or leaving shrouded in silent shame — determines how long it takes you to rebound and get that next job, to function fully and to restore compromised health. Tell everyone about the petty tyrant for your health’s sake. You have nothing to be ashamed about. You were only doing the job you once loved.

Answering critics of our approach …..

Pragmatists argue that our 3-Step Method will only get you fired. They are right in most cases. So, it is important for you to know why we suggest what we do. Our method accomplishes four goals:

  • Goal 1: Your personal health must be the priority or you will not live long enouth to take another job. You have to discover if stress-related health complications have begun and take steps to reverse them. Stress exacerbates diseases that can kill. Put your health, not your job, first. See a physician, ask for blood tests related to stress-induced harm. See a good therapist to restore your faith in your own worthiness.
  • Goal 2: The true purpose of the bullying-costs-data-collection-project (Step 2, Part 4) is to distract you from the emotional damage. Too many wounded targets crawl between the bed sheets and can’t get out. You need something to do to continue to function, to bounce back. This task of estimating the fiscal impact of bullying is not only factual and informative for the organization (which it promptly chooses to ignore), but the employer’s response to the facts will help convince you about the irrationality of the entire bullying process. You didn’t cause it and they don’t seem to care if it ever stops. They are too afraid to do the right thing.
  • Goal 3: Compel employer responsibility for putting you in harm’s way. No one is responsible for being bullied, for inviting the misery upon themselves. The employer has known about the bully before and chosen to retain him or her (attorneys call it negligent retention). Employers want a catfight between employees so that they can blame it on “personality conflict.” The reality is that employers establish all conditions of work. If there are poorly skilled managers or executives, it is because of a dereliction of duty. Employers are lazy and trust on-the-job experiences to teach people to be good and humane managers. This is wrong. The leadership team is responsible for all bullying! It would not happen without executives’ explicit or tacit approval. So, hold their feet to the fire. Expose the bully. Demand changes (for the sake of the organization).
  • Goal 4: Take control of your departure from the place. WBI research found that you have a 66% chance of losing your job once targeted. Exposing the bully is more about your mental health than being an effective way to get the bully fired. Trauma is intensified if you leave the job (voluntarily or after being terminated) if you do not leave holding your head high and pointing accusatory fingers at the wrongdoers. In other words, since you are most likely to leave, once targeted, leave by telling everyone what happened to you and by whose hands. Targets who skulk away in silence, shrouded in personal shame, suffer the most. It can take a year or more to rebound to the point of being able to seek work. Those who leave proudly, bounce back the fastest.

Contrast our approach with traditional advice from HR types, coaches, & “career experts”…..

Things NOT to do after discovering you are the target of workplace bullying:

  • Do not feel guilty for not confronting your bully in response to the aggression. If you could have, you would have. You are not made that way.
  • Do not limit your decisions to act in ways that sacrifice personal integrity and health just to survive to keep a paycheck. Survival strategies alone create even more serious long-term health and career problems. If the place will not change, plan your escape.
  • Do not wait for the impact of bullying to fade with time. It must be stopped for the effects on you to stop.
  • Do hold the employer accountable for putting you in harm’s way. It is not your personal responsibility as the victim to fix the mess you did not start. Employers control the work environment. When you are injured as a result of exposure to that environment, make the employer own the responsibility to fix it.
  • Do not try to reinvent yourself as a political animal. If you would have been able to be cutthroat, you would have acted accordingly. You do not have to mimic the unethical bully to counter her or his misconduct.
  • Do not trust HR to give you advice that serves your own best interests — they work for management and are management. Simple facts.
  • Be wary of EAP counselors until they have proven to you that your confidential case details will not be reported to management and that they understand how work environments affect individuals’ health.
  • Do not ask for relief from the bully’s boss. That is the person who loves her or him most. (And if there is no love there, there is fear. The boss fears the bully and cannot stop him or her.)
  • Do not tell your story from a purely emotional injury angle. It scares away potential supporters.
  • Do not share your voluminous documentation with anyone at work. No one cares as much as you do. In the wrong hands, it can be used against you.
  • Do not ask others (HR, union reps, management) to make the bully stop for your sake. They will disappoint you. Rather, you will make the business case and ask them to stop bullying fortheir own self-interests.
  • Do not agree to be treated by any mental health professionals who cannot believe your experience and want simply to change you so that you will not trigger similar reactions from future bullies.
  • Do not pay a retainer to an attorney until you’ve exhausted cheaper alternatives to get your employer to take your complaint seriously.
  • Do not confide in anyone at work until they have demonstrated (and not just talked about) loyalty to you.

For more information we recommend reading The Bully At Workby Dr. Gary Namie and Dr. Ruth Namie (Sourcebooks)

Source: The Workplace Bullying Institute

Understanding Gender

What is Gender?

For many people, the terms “gender” and “sex” are interchangeable. This idea has become so common, particularly in western societies, that it is rarely questioned. Yet biological sex and gender are different; gender is not inherently connected to one’s physical anatomy.

Sex is biological and includes physical attributes such as sex chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, internal reproductive structures, and external genitalia. At birth, it is used to identify individuals as male or female.  Gender on the other hand is far more complicated. Along with one’s physical traits, it is the complex interrelationship between those traits and one’s internal sense of self as male, female, both or neither as well as one’s outward presentations and behaviors related to that perception.

The Gender Spectrum

Western culture has come to view gender as a binary concept, with two rigidly fixed options: male or female.  When a child is born, a quick glance between the legs determines the gender label that the child will carry for life. But even if gender is to be restricted to basic biology, a binary concept still fails to capture the rich variation observed. Rather than just two distinct boxes, biological gender occurs across a continuum of possibilities. This spectrum of anatomical variations by itself should be enough to disregard the simplistic notion of only two genders.

But beyond anatomy, there are multiple domains defining gender. In turn, these domains can be independently characterized across a range of possibilities.  Instead of the static, binary model produced through a solely physical understanding of gender, a far more rich texture of biology, gender expression, and gender identity intersect in multidimensional array of possibilities. Quite simply, the gender spectrum represents a more nuanced, and ultimately truly authentic model of human gender.

Falling Into Line

Gender is all around us. It is actually taught to us, from the moment we are born. Gender expectations and messages bombard us constantly. Upbringing, culture, peers, community, media, and religion, are some of the many influences that shape our understanding of this core aspect of identity. How you learned and interacted with gender as a young child directly influences how you view the world today. Gendered interaction between parent and child begin as soon as the sex of the baby is known. In short, gender is a socially constructed concept.

Like other social constructs, gender is closely monitored by society. Practically everything in society is assigned a gender—toys, colors, clothes and behaviors are some of the more obvious examples. Through a combination of social conditioning and personal preference, by age three most children prefer activities and exhibit behaviors typically associated with their sex. Accepted social gender roles and expectations are so entrenched in our culture that most people cannot imagine any other way. As a result, individuals fitting neatly into these expectations rarely if ever question what gender really means. They have never had to, because the system has worked for them.

About Gender Variance

Gender variance is when a person’s preferences and self-expression fall outside commonly understood gender norms. Gender variance is a normal part of human expression, documented across cultures and recorded history. Non-binary gender diversity exists throughout the world, documented by countless historians and anthropologists. Examples of individuals living comfortably outside of typical male/female identities are found in every region of the globe. The calabai, andcalalai of Indonesia, two-spirit Native Americans, and the hijra of India all represent more complex understandings of gender than the simplistic model seen in the west.

Further, what might be considered gender variant in one period of history may become gender normative in another. One need only examine trends related to men wearing earrings or women sporting tattoos to quickly see the malleability of social expectations about gender. Even the seemingly intractable “pink is for girls, blue is for boys” notions are relatively new. While there is some debate about the reasons why they reversed, what is well documented is that until the 1950s, pink was seen as a more decided and stronger color, and thus more suitable for a boy, while blue, viewed more delicate and dainty, was commonly worn by girls.

Gender Terminology

Given the complexity of gender, it is not surprising that an increasing number of terms and phrases are developing to describe it. Below are some of the key terms you might encounter:

Biological/Anatomical Sex.
 The physical structure of one’s reproductive organs that is used to assign sex at birth. Biological sex is determined by chromosomes (XX for females; XY for males); hormones (estrogen/progesterone for females, testosterone for males); and internal and external genitalia (vulva, clitoris, vagina for assigned females, penis and testicles for assigned males). Given the potential variation in all of these, biological sex must be seen as a spectrum or range of possibilities rather than a binary set of two options.

Gender Identity. One’s innermost concept of self as male or female or both or neither—how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One’s gender identity can be the same or different than the sex assigned at birth. Individuals are conscious of this between the ages 18 months and 3 years. Most people develop a gender identity that matches their biological sex. For some, however, their gender identity is different from their biological or assigned sex. Some of these individuals choose to socially, hormonally and/or surgically change their sex to more fully match their gender identity.

Gender Expression. Refers to the ways in which people externally communicate their gender identity to others through behavior, clothing, haircut, voice, and other forms of presentation. Gender expression also works the other way as people assign gender to others based on their appearance, mannerisms, and other gendered characteristics. Sometimes, transgender people seek to match their physical expression with their gender identity, rather than their birth-assigned sex. Gender expression should not be viewed as an indication of sexual orientation.

Gender Role. This is the set of roles, activities, expectations and behaviors assigned to females and males by society. Our culture recognizes two basic gender roles: Masculine (having the qualities attributed to males) and feminine (having the qualities attributed to females). People who step out of their socially assigned gender roles are sometimes referred to as transgender. Other cultures have three or more gender roles.

Sometimes used as an umbrella to describe anyone whose identity or behavior falls outside of stereotypical gender norms. More narrowly defined, it refers to an individual whose gender identity does not match their assigned birth gender. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation (attraction to people of a specific gender.) Therefore, transgender people may additionally identify as straight, gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

Sexual Orientation. 
Term that refers to being romantically or sexually attracted to people of a specific gender. Our sexual orientation and our gender identity are separate, distinct parts of our overall identity. Although a child may not yet be aware of their sexual orientation, they usually have a strong sense of their gender identity.

Gender Normative/Cisgender. Refers to people whose sex assignment at birth corresponds to their gender identity and expression.

Gender Fluidity. Gender fluidity conveys a wider, more flexible range of gender expression, with interests and behaviors that may even change from day to day. Gender fluid children do not feel confined by restrictive boundaries of stereotypical expectations of girls or boys. In other words, a child may feel they are a girl some days and a boy on others, or possibly feel that neither term describes them accurately.

Reprinted from: Gender Spectrum

Hispanic Heritage Month Facts & Figures

President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed National Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968. The commemoration was expanded to a month in 1988. September 15 is the first day because it marks the anniversary of Independence for five Latin American countries.

Latinos are the fastest growing “minority” group in the United States. Their population increased 107 percent from 1998 to 2008, compared with 14 percent for the non-Latino population and 22 percent for the total population. Only Mexico has a Latino population larger than the United States. The buying power of Latinos in the United States, a $1 trillion in 2010, is larger than the entire economies of all but 14 countries in the world. It’s projected to increase 50 percent by 2015, almost double the 27 percent national projected growth rate.

Courtesy of: Diversity Inc.

Creating an Inclusive Environment for All Religions

By Sam Ali

Is your company able to deal with religious bias, such as the current anti-Muslim rhetoric? Progressive companies with clearly stated values that hold people accountable for their actions offer valuable lessons. Get advice from companies such as IBM and American Express about how they handle these situations, and how employee-resource groups in particular can help them create inclusive workplaces.

Companies such as IBM Corp., No. 7 in The 2011 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity®, and American Express, No. 13, say that sensitivity, training and flexibility can go a long way in creating a culture of inclusion and religious accommodation. In an article on, Kerrie Peraino, senior vice president, international human resources and global employee relations at American Express, discussed the importance of aligning employee-resource groups with corporate values.

“Before you plant any seed, you need a culture where people are encouraged to work together and respect one another,” Peraino said. “There must be an environment where personal accountability and integrity permeate through every action and transaction. When you start with a work culture that is inquisitive and [has] values alignment, there’s more room for various beliefs to be expressed and constructively contribute to employee and business success.”

So how do you ensure your workplace is inclusive for everyone, including those of minority religious faiths? What steps should employers take to steer their organizations toward a healthier, more diverse workplace?

  • Deep-rooted organizational values that respect customers, communities and employees are essential to an inclusive culture and a successful diversity initiative.

The companies that demonstrate long-term diversity success, such as IBM, for example, have intrinsic, strong moral codes that are at the backbone of every business decision they make.

“If you think about IBM’s values, at the end, it comes down to a single word in my mind, and that’s ‘relationships,'” says Ron Glover, vice president, diversity and workforce programs, human resources. “We do things that really bring value to and enable people and communities around the world to be successful and to take on the toughest problems they have. Then we look at trust and personal responsibility. All of those come down to a notion of enabling us to build relationships. That work formed a basis in our work in diversity as a way to bring different voices to the table and to build an environment within our company first and then across the organizations around the world.”

  • Companies that value diversity and inclusion often have strong employee-resource groups that are encouraged to cross-collaborate and to focus on education, awareness and inclusion.

American Express has a total of 14 ERGs, including three faith-based networks: SALT, the Christian network; CHAI, the Jewish network; and PEACE, the Muslim network. The groups are open to everyone and have senior-level sponsors.

“Although religious networks may seem complicated, at American Express, they’ve provided a very productive outlet for employees to fully engage at work, to learn more about themselves and each other and to build bridges to understanding,” Peraino said.

Twenty-eight percent of The 2011 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity report having faith-based ERGs, up from 10 percent in 2006.

A number of DiversityInc Top 50 companies have also started Middle East/North African ERGs, including Booz Allen Hamilton, No. 32; Cummins, No. 18; Eli Lilly, No. 39; Ford Motor Co., No. 47; General Mills, No. 27;Johnson & Johnson, No. 6; and Wells Fargo, No. 40.

  • Strong mentoring programs should have a cross-cultural component.

Almost all DiversityInc Top 50 companies encourage participants to findmentors who are both from their group (whether that’s defined by race, ethnicity, religion, age, orientation or ability) and not from their group. Employee-resource groups are often used to give employees access to mentors within their own groups and across groups. These mentoring programs must have structure, formal follow-up and measurable results.

  • Don’t just deliver the employee handbook and walk away. Continuously communicate. Make sure everyone is clear on your HR policies, and encourage discussion.

“Religious policies should also be backed up with training,” said Dr. Georgette F. Bennett, president of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, in an article for DiversityInc. “An organization cannot assume that its policies and rationales are understood the same way by every employee, so an orientation of clear do’s and don’ts with periodic follow-up training ensures all employees are on the same page. This way, if an employee violates company policy, managers have clear guidelines upon which to fall back. When this happens, it also gives the employer an opportunity to see whether its policies or training protocol were unclear, while further teaching the employee about the organization’s expectations.”

Other steps organizations can take to create an inclusive workplace culture:

  • Schedule sensitively.

Keep a calendar of religious holidays handy, and be sure it’s available to managers and supervisors, Bennett said. When scheduling important meetings or celebrations, make sure they’re during a time when everyone necessary can attend.

  • Handle the holidays.

Official holidays in the United States are predominantly Christian, often forcing employees of other faiths to use vacation days to observe their holy days, she said. Implement flexible holiday policies such as holiday-swapping or floating personal days to give all employees an equal opportunity to observe.

Ushering In the ‘Re-Generation’

By W. Stanton Smith

Overheard while waiting for an elevator: An executive was invited to talk to some ninth-graders. He spoke of the journey through various jobs that built a successful business career. As he concluded his remarks, he opened up for questions. The students seemed a bit reluctant to speak. So he primed the discussion by saying, “Think about the future and tell me what you see yourself doing once you get your college degree.”

The ensuing silence was getting uncomfortable for the executive. In due course, the silence was broken by a student who said, “It’s simple. I’ll be doing what everyone else in this room will be doing … digging out from the hole your generation has put us in.” Others in the class nodded their heads in agreement.

The executive said, “How could they be so rude?” At this point his narrative was interrupted by the arrival of the elevator. The conversation picked up as the executive and his colleagues left the elevator. I heard no further details as they went in a different direction than I did.

The executive was clearly surprised and annoyed. But would he have been had he known about the latest research on generational attitudes? He still might not have appreciated the in-your-face attitude shown by the student, but he might have understood what was going on a bit better.

Valuing differing points of view is a part of the diversity discussion that needs to receive more emphasis. The mindset that accepts learning from differing viewpoints as a normal part of life is what is needed in these tumultuous times.

I’ve been in conversations where businesspeople have expressed the thought that views of young people are not to be taken all that seriously as they are still maturing and will, ultimately, change their minds about things many times. My response is that this may well be, but we in business and society will pay a price for this dismissive attitude in terms of a potentially disengaged, suspicious workforce that will not be as productive as it could be.

A New Generation Approaching

You may ask: “Aren’t these ninth-graders in the anecdote just the youngest of Generation Y?” The answer is: not really. There is a now successor generation to Gen Y, and they’ve had some very different life experiences. Tamara Erickson in her book “What’s Next Gen X?” has dubbed them the re-generation, and this is the term that will be used here.

I like this nomenclature because this successor generation will likely be about re-evaluating, re-thinking and re-generating what they will be inheriting. They are aware of the economic crisis and how it affects them. They have firsthand knowledge of foreclosures and losing jobs and homes. They have lived most, if not all, of their lives under terrorist alerts, financial concerns and now environmental disasters. As a consequence, re-gen will most likely be quite pragmatic, cautious and very concerned with stewardship of resources. They will be seeking a better way in all aspects of life. However, there also may be another “re” in store for us and that may be represented in the words “resentment of” or resenting the position they perceive that they’ve been put in.

If there was a mantra for re-gen, it might be: “Work, work and work some more. We don’t have much choice. It’s not as clear as it was for previous generations in the United States that we’re going to have as good—much less better—a life than they did. We don’t appreciate the hole that others have put us in. We’ve got to learn to cooperate, not just compete, all the time. Adults, are you listening?”

Selected Survey Results

To begin tracking the attitudes of these re-gen young people, I teamed up with Node Research to ask a series of questions about their thoughts on the future, who they view as valued sources of information and their political views. The survey was conducted in April. Results are based on Internet surveys with a nationally representative sample of 500 10- to 24-year-old males and females from different racial/ethnic groups (Black, Latino, Asian and white). For ease of analysis, the group was subdivided into 10- to 17-year-olds (re-gen) and 18- to 24-year-olds (Gen Y). I will focus on re-gen unless there is a notable difference between re-gen and Gen Y.

We asked the young people to rate statements on a scale of strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree and don’t know/need more information. Here are highlights.

Thoughts About the Future

“Because of the current financial crisis, I believe that ultimately I will not do as well financially as my parents have done.”

Forty-one percent of re-gens agree with this statement; 48 percent disagree; 11 percent don’t know/need more information. The only gender difference worth noting is that re-gen boys are slightly more optimistic than re-gen girls (52 percent of boys selected disagree versus 44 percent of the girls).

There are some ethnic differences: Latinos had the highest agreement percentages at 51 percent (i.e., least optimistic). The others are clustered near the average of 41 percent.

Taking a very broad look, it appears that re-gen is more or less equally divided between pessimists and optimists.

To give balance to the questions about the future, we asked the following:

“Financial crises come and go. I believe that ultimately I will do as well as, if not better than, my parents financially.”

Asked this way, the responses are more positive, with 67 percent agreeing, 23 percent disagreeing and 10 percent choosing don’t know/need more information.

Worth noting is that Asians (87 percent), Blacks (75 percent) and Latinos (86 percent) are well above their white counterparts (54 percent) in being positive about their futures. Surprisingly, the population’s majority group appears least positive about its future.

What do these seemingly conflicting results tell us? Without further research and analysis, it is difficult to know what is meant. It may show that where there is optimism, it is tentative. But we know for sure that, however we cut the results, white re-gens are the least optimistic, and this is a concern.

Valued Sources of Advice

We also wanted to understand who these young people depended upon to ask questions about the world around them. We asked respondents to rank-order eight sources of advice according to their value. Here is the ranking, from most valuable to least:

  • Parents/care providers
  • Other family members/adult friends
  • Teachers
  • Colleagues (classmates, coworkers, etc.)
  • TV news people
  • Internet (blogs et. al.)
  • Print publications
  • Religious leaders

Respondents cite parents/caregivers as No. 1 in value 58 percent of the time. All the other choices range between 5 percent and 8 percent in the percentage of times each was cited as No. 1 in value. In other words, despite the appearances to the contrary, youth want parents to engage them in discussion, and they value it highly. And if you are an adult friend, teacher, work colleague or religious leader, you are still valued as No. 1 about 24 percent of the time.

The media is well down the list of valued sources, but we didn’t know that at the time we developed the questions for the survey. Curious to gather perceptions of youth on media, we did so by asking them to respond to a statement I have heard from some young people:

“There is no real discussion of issues on TV, just people yelling at each other.”

The re-gen response is different from that of Gen Y. Forty-three percent of re-gen agree with the statement; 45 percent disagree; 12 percent chose “don’t know/need more information.” In contrast, 54 percent of Gen Y agree, while 36 percent disagree, with 10 percent selecting “don’t know/need more information.” This response fits with a pattern in some other research we’ve done that shows the closer youth get to graduating high school and getting out into the world, the more skeptical they appear to become.

Further evidence supporting this increasing skepticism is the fact that 62 percent of Gen Y boys agree with the survey statement versus only 41 percent of re-gen boys. Interestingly, there is no real difference between the views of Gen Y and re-gen girls (47 percent versus 46 percent).

Much more work needs to be done on media skepticism, but it is reasonable to conclude that about half of our youth (between the ages of 10 and 24) don’t see television as promoting responsible discussion of important issues.

Incipient Political Views

Just as we sought to collect views on the media, we added a survey statement concerning the Obama administration and how it is viewed by Gen Y and re-gen. On a four-point scale, ranging from very optimistic, somewhat optimistic, not very optimistic and not at all optimistic, this is the statement posed and the responses:

“How optimistic are you that President Obama and his administration will be able to solve the current economic problems?”

Sixty-one percent of re-gen is very/somewhat optimistic, while 39 percent is not very/not at all optimistic. The results for Gen Y are almost identical: 60 percent are very/somewhat optimistic and 40 percent are not very/not at all optimistic.

Re-gen boys are slightly more optimistic (64 percent) than re-gen girls (56 percent). The Gen Y results by gender are virtually the same: 63 percent of boys are slightly more optimistic versus 57 percent of girls.

But there are major differences among the four racial/ethnic groups. Again, white youth are far less optimistic than the other racial/ethnic groups: 51 percent of whites are very/somewhat optimistic and 49 percent are not very/not at all optimistic. By contrast, 81 percent of Blacks, 74 percent of Latinos and 70 percent of Asians are very/somewhat optimistic.

Where Does This Leave Us?

I hope that some of these findings will be surprising enough that researchers will start studying re-gens in earnest. The optimism-level gap between white and Asian, Black and Latino youth is worth immediate attention. Adults need to actively communicate with young people. However, a condescending manner that doesn’t appear to value their opinions and concerns is not the ticket.

Young people want an adult they respect to explain what’s going on and help them make sense of the world. In the absence of this kind of transparency, they are going to believe the worst. Let’s treat generational differences with respect and engage youth in discussions where they feel they are being heard.

Who knows? We might learn something too!


W. Stanton Smith is an author, featured speaker and recognized expert in generational issues in the workplace. Over his career, Smith has held a variety of senior HR positions in public accounting, executive search and the energy business. Smith recently retired from Deloitte LLP (No. 25 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity® list) as a principal in human resources after more than 36 years in the business world. He continues his research, writing and speaking on the topic of generational differences. In addition, he is actively working to improve the treatment and care of people with Parkinson’s disease.