Category Archives: workplace

Ask the White Guy: Why Do ‘Differences’ Matter? (by Luke Visconti)

Question:
When can this website focus on the good things that come out of diversity? As a manager, that is what I focus on with my diverse group—that includes those white male workers that are non-too-popular with this website. Come on—let’s get over this and start turning around the website to focus on the examples of working together! When someone joins my group, I don’t want an attitude that says ‘I am different and special – give me extra help to fit in’ – I want an engineer that says ‘how can I do my job the best and work with the team equally.’

Answer:
There are hundreds of positive articles on this website—and on DiversityIncBestPractices.com—about all the positive aspects of managing diversity.

As far as “working together,” isn’t the shoe on the white male foot since they occupy the disproportionate majority of power positions in this country? Take a look at the leadership of the company you work for: There are 20 people pictured on the “leadership” page. Fifteen white men, two Black men, three white women (no apparent Latinos or Asians). Your company’s board of directors is even worse—nine men and one woman. I checked as many photos as I could and they were all white (no apparent Latinos or Asians).

Forty-seven percent of people with bachelor’s degrees in the workforce are women. The freshman class for four-year schools is 38 percent non-white; for two-year schools it’s 47 percent non-white. Your company’s leadership is substantially less diverse than the workforce of the United States—now and especially in the near future. What does “working together” mean with numbers like this? Depends on who you are.

Yes, your company’s website has a “diversity” area, but it’s weak—no quote from the CEO, no statistics, antiquated programs. It leverages that wiggly phrase “inclusive,” which often appears on websites with no metrics. “Inclusive” is often a prelude to no accountability.

Your company is engineering driven, and I’ve heard the excuse about how few women and/or Black and Latino engineers there are. But there’s more Blacks and Latinos attending college every year—and women have been getting more bachelor’s degrees than men since 1980. Why would a successful woman and/or Black or Latino student go into your field? It’s 2010; nobody has to be a pioneer anymore. There are plenty of progressive industries to work for. I don’t see your company at any of the education-based philanthropies I’m associated with, including the schools where I’m on the board. I find it hard to believe that your company can figure out how to make missiles and satellites but can’t figure out how to entice college-bound women and/or Blacks and Latinos to take more math courses in eighth grade. Whether it’s intended or not, the sign on the door of your company reads “white men preferred, please.”

Why would your company want to do the extra work required to recruit underrepresented people? There’s an economic point to diversity. But you have to believe that people are created equally—and there’s nothing particularly special about white men. If you believe that, then the logical next step is to understand that all people are created equally—and talent is distributed equally also. This means that for every percentage point your company underperforms the available labor pool, your workforce quality is decreased. Logically, underrepresentation also erodes engagement, productivity and innovation of everyone not in the majority. Not doing the extra work to be representational is a death spiral in a country where white people will soon be less than 50 percent of the population.

Finally, as an individual with all the attributes you bring to the table, you ARE different and special—and so are we all. Companies that work on building relationships based on that mutual respect get people to work hard for them, get the best possible talent and elicit the best innovation. Think about it. All the special things about you—your race, your gender, your experience (“second-generation immigrant”)—all contribute to the way you look at approaching situations, evaluating solutions and solving problems. The more differences you cultivate, the better ideas you will receive.

Unfortunately, it appears to me that you represent the attitude of your company very well—arms crossed in front of your chest demanding that people live up to some sort of expectation about “teamwork” that you have, when your company’s record indicates that only certain people will receive the promotions and leadership roles.

Our nation’s culture has evolved to a place where the best and the brightest, including white men, don’t have to put up with that nonsense anymore.



Jobs for disabled workers up 70%

There has been a 70 per cent increase in the number of disabled workers recruited into mainstream jobs during the first three months of the year, representing a record high and indicative of changing attitudes towards disabled works in the UK.

The increase shows that more disabled workers are finding work alongside able-bodied colleagues, suggesting that employers may be doing more to accommodate disabled workers and exploit the talent that is available.

Bob Warner of Remploy, the company that published the statistics, asserted that positive change is being put into effect in the area of disability in the workplace.”

These new figures show that investing in preparing and training disabled people for mainstream employment works,” he said.

Mr Warner continued to state that on the whole, disabled workers prefer to work in a mainstream environment where they can make the most of their skills and assets.”

Disabled people tell us that they would prefer to work in open employment with non-disabled colleagues and employers are now more aware of the skills and abilities disabled people bring to their business,” he explained.

Visit the Remploy website

‘Ginger’ taunts about red hair could be next big form of workplace discrimination

A tribunal decision has prompted new fears that ‘gingerism’ could be the next big form of workplace discrimination.

Last week, a waitress was awarded £17,618 compensation for unfair dismissal over taunts about her red hair.

Sarah Primmer suffered a series of lewd and embarrassing comments and was eventually sacked from her job.

Personnel Today research earlier this year revealed 81% of readers thought it was acceptable to tease people about ginger hair.

A culture of ‘lookism’ is now emerging in the workplace, with gingers often the butt of office jokes, the survey said.

This story was first published on Personnel Today

Survey reveals workers take colleagues less seriously if they have an accent

It’s not what you say but how you say it that may cause judgement from your work colleagues, research has found.

A poll by hearing campaign Heal the World found that 15% of 4,000 respondents would take a work colleague less seriously if they had an accent, while 11% said an accent would influence whether or not they did business with them.

One-quarter of respondents said the Brummie accent was the most annoying, with a Scottish accent perceived as the most aggressive.
People who spoke the Queen’s English were thought to be the most intelligent, while seven in 10 respondents said it carried the most authority.

The Scouse accent was found to be the most untrustworthy according to one in three respondents, followed by Cockney, which received 22% of the votes.

Dr Glenn Wilson, a psychologist at Kings College, London, said: “Accents can play a huge role in our initial attitude towards others. This explains why some people are more likely to adapt their accent to avoid being stereotyped and to encourage a particular impression.”

“There are essentially two components to an accent – location and strength. The location of someone’s accent encourages particular stereotypes and we presume people with stronger accents are less intelligent and are educated to a lesser degree,” Wilson added.

This story was first published by Personnel Today