Lately I have engaged in several conversations (online and IRL) surrounding race, racism, diversity and inclusion, as I’m sure many of you have, given today’s political and social climate. These conversations have been with friends, colleagues and fellow HR professionals. Thankfully I associate with some pretty intelligent, thoughtful, decent individuals who can discuss heated topics without becoming heated (passionate maybe, but not heated) and/or resorting to insults or name-calling. Thankfully. But for many, these types of conversations can often devolve into a free-for-all that becomes focused on the individual rather than on the topic. Or facts.
During these conversations I’ve heard many stories of “true colors” being shown by folks people considered friends or at least decent associates. It seems this past presidential election and the current White House inhabitant have made vile and divisive words and actions against the “other” (race, gender, physical ability, sexuality, you name it) more acceptable and folks are feeling free to let their bigotry flag fly. Nowhere does that flag fly higher than online where folks develop superhero levels of courage from behind the keyboard. What does this say about us as a society? What does it mean for us in the workplace? What does it mean for HR professionals? More pointedly, what impact do these beliefs, when held by HR professionals, have on the rest of us?
If you’re a recruiter or hiring manager who believes black people are intellectually inferior, or that immigrants don’t deserve to be here, or that homosexuality is a sin, or that people with disabilities are somehow less than capable, or that women should stay home barefoot and pregnant, that has to affect your decisions in the workplace, right? How could it not?
If you’re a speaker who speaks on HR topics at conferences, or a consultant, or write an HR blog, how do your views not seep into your work? And if they don’t what type of a psychopath are you? I jest. But, seriously.
This topic is heavy on my mind. Not just because I’m headed to SHRM’s Diversity & Inclusion Conference next week (yay!) But also because I feel this pattern of hateful thoughts, beliefs and discourse will only get worse before it gets better. On a grand scale. However on a smaller scale, on the scale that is within my own little sphere of influence, I commit to do my part to make the world, the HR profession and the workplace a better place to be. For everyone.
I’m far from perfect but I know I’m a good, decent person and I truly believe all of this starts from there. Decency, empathy, and compassion are the building blocks of humanity. The more we infuse those into HR, it will in turn have an impact on our workplaces (WorkHuman, anyone?) which are composed of individuals who are a part of the world community. It’s all connected.
I know this was a bit of a ramble but thank you for making it this far. More to come!
(Posted on SHRM Blog October 23, 2017)