Photo Courtesy of Cezanne Ali

The Solution to Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Underlying Prejudice and Overt Hate

Eureka!

Eureka! I have discovered the solution to Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Underlying Prejudice and Overt Hate!

Why has no one thought of this before? Maybe people have. Then, why are these issues that I listed, still a very serious problem in the professional world?

NOTE: Follow the updates from the companies that I have reached out to. You will find the updates at the end of the article.

Photo Courtesy of Olu Eletu

A Societal Problem = A Corporate Problem

I’ll tell you why. A societal problem, is also a corporate problem. When it comes to the issues listed above, they have been engrained into our cultural context, to a point where many do not even see them. Similar to driving or walking the same route to and from work everyday and no longer noticing the details of your surroundings. As these details, prejudice fades into the background, where it seems non-existent. The truth is that is not the case. Like a tumor, such latent prejudice can be the most damaging of all. Exercising the trickle down effect in corporate culture, it is up to the influential and top level executives, the first and final decision makers, to take the lead and spearhead the shift to inclusion and diversity.

Daisy Auger-Dominguez, Senior Vice President of Talent Acquisitions at Viacom, speaks to the benefits of leading comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategies, later on in this article.

Photo Courtesy of Christoffer Engström

Risk

Influential executives committed to addressing prejudice in the workplace and ensuring the success of these organizations can be undertaking an overwhelming task. For those among them, whom belong to a marginalized group, have the added task of excessively minding their Ps and Qs to stay in their positions and progress. It is always easier to mind and judge the few, as they are set as the examples for the whole. So, rocking the boat with issues that make many people feel uncomfortable is a risk. However, it is a risk worth taking! A risk that every executive leader should safely be able to make, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.

Photo Courtesy of Jaie Miller

No Apologies Accepted

Now let’s take this to another lever. Member of Parliament (MP) Anne Marie Morris was just suspended from British Parliament for stating, “Now we get to the real nigger in the woodpile, which is in two years what happens if there is no deal.”, during a discussion about #BREXIT, (BBC article). The relevance of the statement that Morris made, is that it reflects how prolific and underlying Racism is in our collective global conscience. Morris apologized and stated to the BBC, “The comment was totally unintentional. I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused.” The statement Morris used is in reference to how Black Slaves would supposedly hide in wood piles, while trying to flee the South and escape slavery. With a duration that was well over 300 years, American Slavery started in 1501 and was declared unconstitutional by the 13th Amendment in 1865. By all means, this is an American reference about a horrific time in American history. 206 years since American slavery was deemed unconstitutional, an English MP casually used this Racist reference in a discussion with British MPs. Reading the BBC article, this was not an isolated incident. Morris’s statement is a clear indication that although we may believe that we have come so far, Racism has no bounds and is both overtly and subversively indoctrinated into the lives, minds and words of people, regardless of education, socioeconomic status and location.

Photo Courtesy of Anter Blackbird

It’s Not Just About Racism

This article is not just about RACISM, it is about a solution to the Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Underlying Prejudice and Overt Hate that exists within the global cultural fabric that connects us all.

Morris’s statement is an opportunity to clarify our understanding that all of these issues are incredibly prevalent EVERYWHERE in this day and age. I must admit, that I was under some disillusion, when President Barack Obama was elected for two terms. I thought we had turned a corner as a society. That TEAM Obama would make America GREAT. I purposely omit “again”, because I do not think that America was great for People of Color, Women and LGTBQ, ever! Alas, that is nowhere near the case. All the ‘-isms”, “-phobias”, and the prejudice that goes with them are ALIVE and KICKING!

Reading the article on Morris and recently listening to a report on National Public Radio that addressed the removal of Confederate symbols (NPR article), I saw this as a wake-up call to remain steadfast. Organizations and movements, such as the “Black Lives Matter” movement ( link ), the United State of Women organization ( link ), Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton Mixtape: Immigration Anthem ( link ) and ILGA ( link ), contribute greatly to keeping our eye on the prize, when all these “-isms” and “-phobias” come to an end.

Photo Courtesy of Ahmed Saffu

Solution?

How about a clear and concise solution to bring the end about faster? The solution comes down to this, CONNECTION. In the previous articles that I have written for Arianna Huffington’s THRIVE Global Journal, THE BIG REVEAL, CONNECTION, and THE GROWING NEED FOR CONNECTION IN THE DIGITAL AGE, the common theme is Connection and Relationship in the Professional world. I believe Connection and Relationship in the professional world are the beginning and the end of eradicating “-isms’ and “-phobias” everywhere. Why? Corporate organizations touch the lives of everyone in this world, wether it is an oil company, a retailer, car manufacturer, or restaurant conglomerate. Through advertisement, media, social marketing and our everyday purchases, these corporations touch our lives profoundly. We are listening, watching and absorbing, wether we realize it or not. I was standing in a line at a retail store. A woman was making a remark about how long the line was and how she was looking forward to Amazon’s Prime Day. I mean this was just a casual conversation between strangers, distraction from the wait. However, the impact of a corporate organization on both of our lives was undeniable. This is where we should begin! Organizations with such influence that they can enter into the casual conversation between strangers and facilitate a mutual connection is a power that needs to be harnessed for GOOD! I see the Corporate Social Responsibility campaigns that many large corporate entities create and implement to contribute to the greater good of the global community. However, that is not good enough. I rarely hear about those campaigns in casual conversation in the grocery line. That is my truth.

So how do major corporations address the global ‘-isms” and “-phobias”, in combination with their current CSR campaigns? They start at home with their employees. The former Director of Inclusion and Diversity at Alphabet (a.k.a. Google), Daisy Auger-Dominguez, was recently hired as the Senior Vice President of Talent Acquisitions at Viacom. I asked Ms. Auger-Domiguez, “From your experience, how has supporting inclusion and diversity at a major corporation impacted the overall success of the organization?”. Her response, the following bullet points:

Benefits of leading comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategies:

· Breeds innovation and creativity (the business case has been made exceedingly), which increases revenue and competitiveness

· Reduce disengagement of employees who may feel alienated or marginalized in the workplace

· Build 21st century leadership skills for existing and emerging leaders. Thriving and engaging diverse workplaces are an expectation of the emerging workforce. As a reminder, the millennial workforce is the most diverse in US history and by 2020 millenials will form 50% of the global workforce.

It is critical that influential top level executives take the lead on ensuring that their teams of employees are consistently being supported and educated on how to build healthy professional relationships with their colleagues with the purpose of deepening understanding, broadening perspective, and building connection. Taking this action leaves less room for “-isms” and “-phobias” that are rooted in and fostered by ignorance, misunderstanding, and limited perspective. Bottom line, supporting inclusion and diversity in your organization will support its continued success and innovation!

Photo Courtesy of Tamarcus Brown

Solution.

This is my solution. Influential global organizations committing to on-going educational programs, seminars, events and workshops that build true connection amongst their employees and foster an inclusive and diverse corporate community. With major global corporations taking purposeful steps towards building connection and sharing it with their consumers through Corporate Social Responsibility campaigns, I believe the grocery line conversations could expand beyond a company’s financial bottom line with Prime Day to a dialogue of how a dynamic woman of color balances corporate life, family life, and “me” time in her new role as CEO of a global corporation! Diversity, acceptance, and understanding interwoven into the fabric of global culture with such casual conversations. With every dollar that we choose to spend, we can flex our consumer power to further influence positive change, by purchasing products and services from corporations that make a point to support inclusivity and diversity within their organizations. That is one of the best ways to flex the power of consumer spending. Major global corporate organizations should never forget that! As consumers, we brought you into this world, and we can take you OUT! However, we need to know which companies are taking these steps. So, I am starting with the ones where I have contacts and connections. I will keep you updated as things progress.

To date, I would like to share that I have reached out to Kat Cole, COO and President of Focus Brands, North America and Elon Musk, CEO of TESLA and SpaceX, along with a long list of executives at Facebook, We Work, GAP, Johns Hopkins, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Nissan, General Motors, Universal Music Group, Charity Miles, Viacom, The Honest Company, Headspace, DreamWorks Animation, and more about conducting my workshop, Building Relationships to Support Inclusion and Diversity, for their employees. I look forward to hearing their response.

KEEPING YOU UPDATED:

7/12/2017 — I heard from Kat Cole’s team at Focus Brands. Way to go, Focus Brands! I look forward to seeing how this will move forward.

7/13/2017 — I had reached out to Sean Brecker, the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Headspace. I received an email from Britta Franson, the Director of Public Relations for Headspace, on his behalf as he was on vacation this week and unavailable for comment.

She stated the following:We do take professional development and corporate training very seriously, and have an in-house culture manager and people services department who handle theses kinds of trainings internally.”

My response: “I want to celebrate companies, like Headspace, that recognize the need to address these issues and take action by prioritizing the implementation of training and other forms of support to foster inclusion and diversity within their corporate culture. My article is a call to action for all the companies that aren’t. Providing examples of the ones that are is critical component to initiating change.”

7/13/2017 — I heard from Melissa Smith, SPHR, Vice President of Training & Leadership at FOCUS Brands.

She stated the following:We are focused on several initiatives through the end of the year.”

My response: “Could you provide any details of your Diversity and Inclusion initiatives… ?”

About your Author:

Birungi Ives graduated from Mount Holyoke College, a Seven Sisters women’s college in Western Massachusetts, with an interdisciplinary degree in both African and African-American studies. Married to a cheeky Englishman and a mother to a verbose and inquisitive 13 year old boy, a rebelous terrier, named “Billi”, and an aloof, but affectionate, white domesticated cat, named “Snowball”, Ives is dedicated to enjoying every moment. With 2 decades of experience in Public Relations, Media, Production and Communications, Ives has used various platforms to support inclusion and diversity and worked with influential global organizations and corporations, from around the world. She has also been seen sitting at “the table” with influential individuals and discussing… , from time to time! Check out her LinkedIn profile, by clicking here. Currently, Ives is founder of Women Of the Roundtable, supporting women in business and career, and founder of ALIGNE, website: www.a-ligne.com, where she harnesses the power of professional relationships to support the success of her clients, workshop attendees and students. Want to learn how to utilize the power of professional relationships to support your own success? Visit ALIGNE Academy to learn how, by clicking here.