DiversityInc is one of the best organizations out there in the area of advising businesses in diversity and inclusion issues. They also love a good time: for example, their spring conference this week features an on-stage dialogue between Michael Eric Dyson and Ann Coulter.
One of their regular online features is “Things Not to Say” in which they list a few typical insensitive remarks made to people from a wide range of backgrounds. Some of the remarks on their lists can feel a little over-the-top . . . until you consider that these lists are culled from the real-life experiences of people in the workplace.
Of course, YOU never say any of these things. So have a look at the explanations of how to debunk these stereotypes . . . so you can help OTHERS.
There’s a lot of work being done in diversity in businesses, and a lot of progress has been made. Focus has shifted from egregious discrimination to what are called “microinequities,” or the small, day-to-day ways that bias can be expressed consciously or—more often—unconsciously. Whom we talk with in the hallways, what topics we raise with whom, what assumptions we voice about others’ interests or capabilities: all of these can be hurtful and limiting on an interpersonal level and disruptive at the level of business productivity.
So: read ’em and weep. I have voiced versions of some of these and thought about saying others, and you will undoubtedly relate to a number of them as well. With a disabled family member, I’m strong in the area of disabilities sensitivity; but having grown up in the Midwest, I’m still catching up on awareness of Asian culture and differences. We all have strengths and weaknesses in this. The good news is that our reptile brains are malleable and coachable, and that people will give us credit for owning up to our ignorance or lack of experience.