Inspiring Leadership with Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence

Archive for May, 2014

A Gen Z Perspective: 3 Factors to Proper Functioning in the Workplace

By Danniella Banks

After attending last week’s Diversity Roundtable of Central Indiana meeting entitled, “Communicating Across Generations,” I was left with a bad taste in my mouth because of the way that my generation is being portrayed. Yes, I am a member of Gen Z, which are those born from 1990-1999. If you’ve noticed the attention that my generation has been getting lately, you probably think that I am lazy, only care about myself and that I am addicted to social media. Well folks, I would have to say that there is more to me, and my generation, than what meets the eye.

In our short lifetime, we have seen many tragedies that have shaped our view of the world, such as 9/11 and the 2008 economic collapse. These two events, among others, have greatly shaped our view of the world, according to Bruce Tulgan, founder of RainmakerThinking and author. Because of the events that we have witnessed, we tend to have a more fearful view of the world, which means that we have different needs than previous generations.

While research is still ongoing for the characteristics of Gen Z , Tulgan has provided some information on how Gen Z will function in the workplace. The first is that we will need a leadership style that is more teaching based. We want to learn, which means that we need to be taught. We want our bosses and managers to take the time to teach us how certain aspects of the company we work for function so that we can better understand why we are doing what we are asked to do.

Second, we enjoy using social media, and we want to find ways to use it in the workplace. Some members of Gen Z will have careers in managing social media, along with other tasks important to the company. Few members of previous generations have wanted this opportunity, so we step in. Some scholars, such as Tulgan, also believe that we want to use social media to communicate in the workplace. While this may be true for some, I think that after more research this ideology may go by the wayside.

Third, we will almost always ask, “why?” While this may frustrate the managers that we work for, this is something that has been engrained in us since we were small children. We have always been urged to learn the why of nearly everything that we do. This will not change when we become employees in a company.

These three things are important to the way Generation Z functions in the workplace. By understanding these three things about Gen Z, members of other generations may realize that we are only misunderstood, and that we will eventually find our place just like they did.


Danniella Banks is the Sales and Marketing Specialist of the Society for Diversity, the #1 largest professional association for diversity and inclusion. For more information about the Society for Diversity, log onto

Diversity Discover: Diversity in a Post-Safe World by Anita Nahal, Ph.D., CDP

Anita Nahal, Ph.D., CDP, former assistant provost for international programs and associate professor of history, is a consultant in higher education and organizational diversity. She is also the founder & chairperson of, . You can find more information on her at:


Anita It’s circa 2014 and we live, I believe, in a post-safe world. Since 9/11 our emotions have been standing on a razor’s edge with terrorism and other forms of violence, at the mass and individual levels, increasingly dominating the global landscape. Domestic and international events such as the Boston marathon bombs; the violent repercussions to the Arab Spring; the Washington DC Navy yard shootings; Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings; Virginia Tech shootings; killing of his girlfriend by Oscar Pistorius; killing of her boyfriend by Jodi Arias; shooting of Trevon Martin by George Zimmerman, and so forth to name just a few, have touched the core of our political, economic, religious and socio/cultural sensitivities. Without doubt, we need to question more so now, our opinions, biases and our prejudices on race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, age, religion and secularism, military participation, PTSD, veteran status, gun control, women and child abuse, abortion and a whole gamut of human interaction issues that impact our relationships at the personal and professional spheres. How do we even begin to understand what being diverse implies in this post-safe world? Is anyone safe, in any part of the world? What do we tell our diversity practitioners and various organizations on what kind of diversity training to impart to their employees? How do we approach diversity? What is to be done with diversity? How do we help diversity help us?

In my opinion there are two ways we can respond to the questions above. And right at the onset let me say that my suggestions are not new. They are well known, and also practiced, but perhaps these are the most forgotten in the corridors of human memory, and need a healthy dose of reminding every now and then!

Equality: How many of us truly believe we are all equal or even close to equal? I suspect most would respond in the negative. Even in so called homogenous racial, ethnic or religious groups or even among the specific genders, most of us believe that we are different in some way or the other. That difference gives us our uniqueness, indeed. However, in the diversity world, when interacting with others, it is imperative to consider everyone as equal. No matter what the reason is for their being different from us, we must mold our mindsets to believe that we are all equal as human beings, the one and only human race on Earth. This does not imply that one is not aware of differences or does not acknowledge them, one is, and indeed does, hopefully in an honest and realistic manner. However, that awareness and acknowledgement is to be a guide, a precursor for a genuine desire to learn about others, to get to know them; an intrinsic aspiration, a yearning for diversity understanding, appreciation and congenial co-existence. Equality and parity are critical to our acceptance of others as neither better nor worse than us…thus attempting a utopia of sameness. We innately need to believe that we are one global entity, and the specific or unique differences that make us unalike are simply for running day to day lives, not for creating mis-understandings, fear, terror or infringing upon our basic right to live as human beings. 60 years ago in May 1954 the Brown Vs Board of Education decision created a path-breaking way forward for parity in education. Legislation is vital, just as that one was, however, without a social and cultural mindset change, true change is impossible. In 1896 in the Plessy vs Ferguson case, Justice Henry Billings Brown declared: “The object of the [Fourteenth] amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the equality of the two races before the law, but in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to endorse social, as distinguished from political, equality. . . If one race be inferior to the other socially, the Constitution of the United States cannot put them upon the same plane.”[i] This brings us to the mindset change about which I earlier spoke. It is this crucial crux that we humans need to recognize; that social and cultural acceptance of all as equal is essential without which laws can only do that much for true change to occur. And all over the world, humans need to focus upon two things: pass laws to bring about necessary changes so as individuals can live a more equitable life, and second, to address mindset change, be it on race, gender, caste, class, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or any other marker that distinguishes one human from another. We are one human race as Michael Jackson eloquently alluded to in his song, We’re The World.
“There comes a time when we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one” [ii]

Global Village: The second is to consider the world truly as a global village, taking the phrase and concept from Marshall McLuhan.[iii] Yes, we will still continue to have borders and countries with national flags, sovereignty principals, citizens with rights and duties, governments to govern, institutions to provide education, judicial recourse, religious comfort, leisure activities, and organizations to provide jobs to earn income so we can survive, hospitals to provide medical relief, laws to maintain peaceful co-existence, and various cultural nuances such as language, music, dance, the arts and so forth to nurture our soul; in essence the whole gamut of essentials and luxuries for human existence and joy. We don’t need to wait for extra-terrestrial beings to invade Earth to create a global effort to save our planet as in Independence Day with due respect to its director, Roland Emmerich. McLuhan powerfully pointed out that communications bring individuals closer with more information and more access due to new connectivity modes. Home computers had not even developed when his books came out in the 1960s. And, if we are to believe him that the “electric speed in bringing all social and political functions together in a sudden implosion has heightened human awareness of responsibility to an intense degree,”[iv] then why is it difficult to imagine a new heightened sense of responsibility that we are all just one race and ideologically accept one global village as our home? A global home, wherein common global concerns can guide us, and common rights and responsibilities can bind us, while still living in separate geographic areas?

Therefore, with the world no longer safe for us or for our children, and their children; a new, unfathomable paradigm of threat and fear divides us, something unknown in the 1970’s or even 1980’s, at least at a mass, global level. Thus it’s preemptively wise to devise diversity trainings around the issues of one human race and one global village.

[i] . Accessed, May 18, 2014.
[ii] . Accessed, May 18, 2014.
[iii] . Accessed, May 18, 2014.
[iv] . Accessed, May 18, 2014.

Ten Things to Prepare You for Your Next Promotion By Enrique Ruiz, CDE, President of PositivePsyche.Biz Corp.

Enrique ‘Rick’ Ruiz is President of PositivePsyche.Biz Corp, a management consulting and training firm in the Washington DC area. He earned an MBA in the UK and has led diverse teams in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and across the US. Rick is PgMP , CM and CDE certified, has managed operations up to 15,000 people strong, is an inventor with a family of six and he is an author of six books.
Enrique RuizeLooking for that next promotion? Ready for an increased salary, higher prestige and more power? Most everyone dreams of this opportunity but most are not ready for the “big job.”

Early in my career I was the best at knowing the intricacies of a particular laser system; after all, I trained army personnel how to use our system. The day came when my boss was leaving so I figured I was just going to slip into the position. As it turns out, I did not get the role and so I decided to jump ship and try my hand in other waters a year later.

Two years went by and then I was again offered a manager role. After my initial burst of excitement, I said to myself secretly that I was so glad that I did not get the promotion a few years back. I was shocked that I had that reflective thought but it was true. I was not ready to be a manager who could handle more responsibility and motivate a team.

Are you ready for more responsibility? Is your desk tidy and organized or are you inundated with things to do, burning the candle at both ends and not able to show your employer that you can in fact handle more responsibility? Is your attitude positive, engaging and motivating or are you waiting to “get the job” before you show what you are worth? The simple fact is that an employer usually has to “see” you doing the job BEFORE you are given the chance to prove yourself in earnest.

Consider the following items as preparation for your next promotion:

1. Is your steal tempered?

Leadership is more than a title. Can you handle tough situations, difficult customers, setbacks or employee issues in a methodical win-win fashion? Anyone can take the helm when the sea is calm. When the seas get rough are you seasoned enough to be the captain that will lead a team out of any potential rough seas?

Being a part of a challenging environment can temper your disposition and give you strength. Make the best of any challenging environment.

2. Are you the desired 20%?

Human nature has a statistical phenomenon observed by an Italian sociologist in the early 1900’s, Pareto. The Pareto principle, also known as the 80–20 rule or the law of the vital few, tells us that we can usually expect 80% of the work to be accomplished by 20% of the team. This rule applies across sociological, financial and customer spectrums. Do you step up to the plate and go the extra mile to get things done? Can management count on you? Strive to leave the ordinary and become the extraordinary 20%.

3. Are you giving life?

You can have anything you want in life if you can help enough people get what they need. Winston Churchill reminds us “You make a living by what you get, you make a life by what you give.” The pursuit of cash is a temporal reward. Helping others has lasting value that builds goodwill with potential customers, teammates and employers. Step up to help others. A candle loses nothing when it lights another candle but the room does get a whole lot brighter.

4. Do you have magnetic power?

Do people want to be around you because of the wisdom and high morale you bring to the table? Do they look to you for advice? Can you engage team members from other organizations to support your cause? Have you earned the respect necessary to rally others who do not work directly for you who will willingly following you?

5. Diversify your experience!

Gain different vantage views from multiple disciplines. Expand your experience base to include areas that you may not really like so you have a better understanding of the organization. An engineer who works in finance, manufacturing and quality will have a well-rounded perspective that will help the team achieve collective objectives more efficiently. Get engaged in test, customer service, proposal work or even a special “tiger team” to tackle new challenges.

6. Demonstrate flexibility

Accept petty sacrifices of change for the greater good. Can you travel, work shifts, take on special roles or assignments where the business needs you? Can you be humble enough to lead by example, even performing menial tasks when needed?

7. Exude Loyalty

Focus on doing your current job to the best of your ability. Your talk should be “our” company versus “they.” Be a walking ambassador for your organization. Loyalty breeds more personal investment and higher rewards with commensurate results. Seek out new responsibility and contribute ideas that will make the organization grow.

8. Be a constant scholar

The company owns the job but you own your career. Take responsibility for your own education/expansion and show that you have personal initiative to take action on your own. Take a class, read two business books a year, teach something at a seminar, write a paper on your own time or learn a new language. Be in tune with the marketplace so that when the opportunity comes for your new skill you are in a prime position to fill the need.

9. Stand Up and Be Counted

Whining to peers or family without taking a stand to help change the organization is a sign of weakness. Take the risk to share with management things that should be changed and be willing to lead the charge if necessary.

10. Show Your Integrity

We all want leaders who will “walk the talk” by being straightforward, respectful, open and honest with management. Lip service for misleading project status, team integration or work ethics can solve a short-term problem but they undermine your long-term credibility. In today’s world we look for individuals who have an ethical backbone to make optimum choices. Building up our character, and maintaining our reputation in the actions we take every day, is the best way to ensure we have a following.

Seek out opportunities to hone each of these ten things. Are you dressing the part, performing the role and showing that you can unite a team for a common cause? In essence, are you exhibiting leadership traits in advance of your promotion? If you are, your employer will surely rectify a wrong and give you the position for which you aspire to be in. Your next promotion is just around the corner. What difference will YOUR difference make?

A Cautionary Tale: We’ll Let the Voters Decide

By Leah Smiley

A few months ago, I started to write a blog but I did not. I was concerned that my assertions would be viewed as too negative. The topic pertained to exercising caution when embarking on a new diversity and inclusion effort. The blog was driven out of concern for two local government agencies that were creating diversity plans. I warned both organizations of the potential negative impacts, in spite of the positive intentions. Caution was necessary in three areas: (1) choosing a consultant; (2) creating strategic interventions; and (3) handling resistance.

Choosing a Consultant

Here’s the reality. Everyone who says that they are a diversity consultant is NOT. On the surface, diversity and inclusion seems like a relatively easy profession. A person of color or a woman may say, “I AM diversity” therefore, I should be able to do the job well. Wrong. Possessing one, two or three dimensions of diversity will not produce a great diversity practitioner. I hope everyone understands the illogical reasoning here. A person who is the child of a physician, and frequently visits the doctor for his/her own health issues, is not quite qualified to be a medical practitioner. Likewise, a person who has completed 12 years of primary and secondary education is not yet qualified to be a teacher.

Doctors and nurses are certified. Teachers are certified. Lawyers are certified. Accountants and financial planners are certified. Even human resource professionals are certified. Certification is different from a ‘certificate’ program. In a certificate program, individuals affirm that they have acquired a certain level of knowledge, usually by taking a class. Certification, on the other hand, represents a declaration of a particular individual’s professional competence through knowledge and experience. When an individual is certified, credentials are used after the person’s name to indicate mastery of a particular subject.

A certified consultant, or executive, will offer strategic interventions versus simplistic solutions.

Creating Strategic Interventions

An example of a simplistic solution occurs when an organization says that they want to increase representation of a particular group. It’s tempting to say, “OK, let’s place an ad online and hire some people of color.” But this is far too simplistic.

Most of us prefer to keep it simple versus making our work complex. But using the example above, an organization can waste a lot of money in turnover because of a simplistic approach to diversity recruiting. A 2007 Korn/Ferry report, The Corporate Leavers Survey, shows that “unfairness costs U.S. employers $64 billion on an annual basis – a price tag nearly equivalent to the 2006 combined revenues of Google, Goldman Sachs, Starbucks and or the gross domestic product of the 55th wealthiest country in the world. This estimate represents the cost of losing and replacing professionals and managers who leave their employers solely due to failed diversity management. By adding in those for whom unfairness was a major contributor to their decision to leave, the figure is substantially greater. This study also shows how often employees who left jobs due to unfairness later discouraged potential customers and job applicants from working with their former employer.”

That was in 2007. In 2013, EEOC received 93,727 total charges of retaliation, discrimination and harassment. Should we compare years, in 2007, there were 82,792 EEOC charges. I wish there was data on the total number of diversity professionals and how that number correlates to the increase in EEOC charges. It would be interesting fodder for the people who wish to do away with the field altogether.

Nevertheless, an adequate solution to increasing representation requires a little more introspection. First, why is there a need for diverse representation? Second, what do the demographics and statistics say? What is the current and projected connection between diverse employee representation and customers/clients/students? Are there losses from turnover? Is there a burgeoning market that the organization is missing? And third, is the organization inclusive enough to handle increased representation? Are managers prepared to engage and retain diverse workers? Do employees have skills, such as conflict management, communication, and team building, to handle the complexity that diversity brings? How difficult is it for diverse individuals to get into the succession pipeline and move up the ladder? All of these questions, and more, require answers before even asking “What kind of diversity would benefit the organization most?”

A similar approach is taken when one considers offering “diversity training”, for example. You can’t just hold one diversity training session, and expect genuine change. But again, you learn these things when you get certified.

Handling Resistance

Finally, Diversity and Inclusion professionals must anticipate resistance, as well as plan how to respond to it. The largest city in the State of Vermont, Burlington, is a perfect illustration of this principle. According to 2012 U.S. Census estimates, the metro area had an estimated population of 213,701, approximately one third of Vermont’s total population. Yet while the City is busy finalizing its diversity plan, the voters are planning to dismantle diversity and equity in the schools at the June 3rd election.

In Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, the Supreme Court concluded that it was not up to judges to overturn the 2006 decision by Michigan voters to bar consideration of race when deciding who gets into the state’s universities. According to an article in the Washington Post, the recent Supreme Court decision will cause “Those in states without [affirmative action] bans to be prepared to justify why consideration of race is essential for assembling a diverse class.” This post-secondary decision is bound to trickle-down to creative localities in this “Post Racial America.”

Hence, a skilled diversity practitioner will also be wary about how resistance will manifest. The city of Burlington does not have a superintendent for the next school year. Neither does the school district have a CFO. But one thing is for sure, someone is determined to place diversity and inclusion on the ballot for voters to decide whether it should be a school funded initiative. Because the school district is grappling with a budget shortfall, WPTZ-TV reports that voters will decide whether to “downsize the central office staff, ask teachers to spread out negotiated raises over several years, or gut the diversity and equity department.”

So here’s the challenge. You can’t create a one-dimensional response to inequity. A plan to remediate inequity needs to address the perceptions of as many stakeholders as possible. Otherwise, resistance will result in the loss of thousands of dollars spent defending the need for diversity and inclusion. It will also cause decision makers to exercise caution when allocating much needed resources for intervention efforts—which will ultimately affect diversity and inclusion outcomes.

The moral of the story is that diversity practitioners must obtain the knowledge and skill to effect change. We have to move beyond race and gender, toward purposeful interventions. We must also advance past good intentions, toward meaningful outcomes. Accordingly more diversity and inclusion professionals must get certified.



Leah Smiley is the President of the Society for Diversity, the #1 and largest professional association for diversity and inclusion. For more information about the Society for Diversity, log onto

10 Reasons Why the 2014 Diversity Leadership Retreat is the Go-To Event of the Year


Join the Society for Diversity from July 24-25 in Orlando, FL for what will be “the must-attend diversity and inclusion conference of the year.”

If you need to drive results by transitioning D&I from good to great, here are 10 reasons why you can’t afford to miss “Planning for the Future: Linking Diversity, Demographics & Dollars” this July:

1. KEYNOTES. Inspired sessions from stars like Craig B. Clayton Sr., Dr. Shirley Davis Sheppard, Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, Effenus Henderson, and more.

2. THOUGHT LEADERS. Gain actionable intelligence from 16 workshop sessions with D&I leaders, such as Dr. Shelton Goode, Dr. Ken Coopwood, Dr. Eddie Moore, Carole Weinstein, Ini Augustine, Nadine Vogle, Mary L. Martinez, and Enrique Ruiz, to name a few.

3. DIVERSITY CERTIFICATION. Start working on your CDP or CDE credentials in a certification track with noted D&I expert, Leah Smiley.

4. NATIONAL AWARDS. It’s not too late to nominate yourself, or your organization, for a Champions for Diversity Leadership Award. This national awards ceremony will recognize leaders who inspire, foster, recognize, demonstrate, encourage and promote best practices, ideas, products, technology and strategies for diversity and inclusion to enhance great places to live and/or work. Make a nomination now at

5. CONTINUING EDUCATION CREDITS. CDE and CDP designees from the Institute for Diversity Certification will receive 20 continuing education credits, AND credits are also being requested from the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) and ASTD Certification Institute.

6. DIVERSITY CAREER FAIR & VENDOR EXPO. Find solutions to enhance the quality of your D&I interventions, or meet with prospective customers at the Diversity Career Fair and Vendor Expo.

7. REAL-WORLD SKILLS. Learn how to confront modern-day diversity and inclusion challenges, while planning for the future in a changing field.

8. PEER SUPPORT. Network and talk with the right Retreat attendees from Wal-Mart, Bank of America, Cisco, Walgreens, American Red Cross National Headquarters, Princeton University, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Harland Clarke, Humana, U.S. Department of Defense, and 400 more attendees!

9. DISNEY WORLD & TOURIST ATTRACTIONS. Bring your entire family to the U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 Best Hotel in Orlando AND get discounted tickets to Disney Theme Park and Resorts.

10. DIVERSE EXPERIENCES WITH A HIGH ROI. From Salsa dancing and golf, to the future of diversity and specific examples of how to increase the organizational value of D&I, your return on investment from “Planning for the Future: Linking Diversity, Demographics & Dollars” will be huge!

If that isn’t enough – Use the Promo Code FLASH514 at  to receive $200 off! Hurry, this special ends on Monday, May 19th.

P.S. You can learn more about the Retreat at a FREE webinar on Wednesday, May 21st. Get the log-in information for the webinar at

We look forward to seeing you in Orlando!

Has 50 Years of EEO Law Gone Too Far?

By Leah Smiley

Over the last few days, there has been a lot of talk about affirmative action and racism. It was ironic because this week, I spoke to a group at Virginia Wesleyan College on the topic of “America & Racism: Has 50 Years of EEO Law Gone Too Far?” Following is a brief summary of my talk.

While there is a chorus of individuals who assert that any discourse about fairness, equity, or diversity amounts to reverse discrimination; there is also a legitimate issue to be addressed here. The choir recognizes that ‘privilege’ is a powerful asset. Each step that we take toward leveling the playing field is an encroachment on the unearned benefits that have characterized racial division for centuries.

Like other countries who have Equity and Diversity legislation, Equal Employment Opportunity law is step in the right direction. But keep in mind that the law is for the lawless, or those who benefit from such actions. For example, if you are not a thief or someone who fences stolen goods, then mandatory minimum sentencing for stealing may not be that high on your list of priorities. Likewise, slavery was abolished in 1865 and while it was a highly divisive issue at that time– today, slavery is not a topic that roils many. But this issue of Equal Opportunity and Diversity is another story.

While I was on campus, a student asked me, “Are colleges going to be able to deny admission for black students”? I said no. Regardless of what the law says, achieving diversity through inclusion of different groups is invaluable for every educational institution. Here’s why: students won’t stay in college for ever. When they leave the campus, and enter the workplace, the lack of skills in this realm called diversity is going to land your high achieving alumni in minimum wage positions.

As more organizations become global, the inability to work with all different types of people, generate great ideas in the midst of conflict, and target diverse new markets, will become a thorn in the student’s side. That is one of the reasons why corporations say that colleges are not preparing students for life in the real world. Even if there are some who say, “America has made it this far with White men”. Reality says that history neglects the contributions that thousands of diverse individuals have made over the years.

If there is ever going to be a time when EEO Law is ruled “unconstitutional”, there must be some things in place first. For one, fairness for all (including LGBT and immigrants) has to be the order of the day. Second, more people must use their privilege as power. Privilege is not bad– what is bad is how you use your privileges.

For instance, the Clippers turned their jerseys inside out to protest their owner’s negative comments. For all of the millions of children that look up to basketball players, that was a very weak demonstration of how to use privilege as power. Think about it, how powerful would it have been if the players stopped the playoff game? Ah, but the risk was too great. Rosa Parks made a sacrifice that still pays benefits today. And Mohammed Ali is known as the Greatest of All Time, even though he was banned from the sport for 5 years when he was in his prime. We all have to make those types of sacrifices for the next generation. Let’s not have faux fairness, but genuine change.

Finally, each person has to be respected for their individual strengths and contributions.  If we are not willing to go above and beyond the call of duty for fairness and inclusion on behalf of others, then 50 years of EEO Law has not gone far enough.

– Leah Smiley is the President of The Society for Diversity, the #1 professional association for Diversity and Inclusion. For more information about the Society for Diversity, log onto


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