Inspiring Leadership with Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence

Posts tagged ‘management’

5 Trends That Will Impact Diversity & Inclusion Work

Diversity & Inclusion

How are you proactively planning for the future of business?

Last week, I co-presented a webinar about the 2015 Diversity Leadership Retreat. I discussed “5 Trends That Will Impact Diversity & Inclusion Work.” A summation of my presentation follows.

Within the scope of diversity and inclusion work, it is important for organizations to proactively:

  • Understand Diversity & Inclusion from a Global Context
    There is a “Make in India” pitch, a “Made in China” campaign, a “Made in America” movement, and so many other promotions to persuade manufacturers and consumers to invest their monies. Beyond short term job creation and tax revenue benefits, these campaigns point to a long-term strategy for global dominance.

    Sustainable revenue growth is one of the drivers behind the need to do business better in international markets, as well as the impetus to appeal to diverse employees and consumers in distinct regions. Nevertheless, in these global markets, diversity issues will manifest in different forms. For example, in some places, religion, age and income are issues; in other places, the biggest diversity “problems” center around emigrants and women, or the LGBT and disabled communities.

    In Forbes, Glenn Llopis writes, “No longer can America’s corporations hide behind their lack of cultural intelligence.  Organizations that seek global market relevancy must embrace diversity – in how they think, act and innovate.  Diversity can no longer just be about making the numbers, but rather how an organization treats its people authentically down to the roots of its business model.   In today’s new workplace, diversity management is a time-sensitive business imperative.”

    Thus, instead of viewing diversity as a problem, the challenge lies in seeing opportunities that exist when embracing under-served and under-utilized markets.

  • Realize the Need to Offset Impending Labor & Economic Shortages with Women
    “A society where women can shine should not only be a PR exercise (for companies and the government) to demonstrate that they are utilizing female talent. The important thing is to change the rules of the game by incorporating the perspectives of women in corporate management and work style,” Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe once said.

    “International organizations including the World Economic Forum and the International Monetary Fund have long called on Japan to make more use of its female workforce to offset the labor shortage brought on by its rapidly aging population and antiquated traditions — some 60 percent of Japanese women quit work after giving birth. One of the obstacles blocking working moms from climbing the ladder, let alone staying employed, is posed by Japan’s notoriously and often unnecessarily long working hours”, according to a July 2014 article, Female Workers May Finally Get Foothold, in Working Woman Report.

    Japan isn’t the only country facing a shortage of skilled workers. Nor are they the only nation to consider fully-engaging women in the labor market and economy.

    Since 2006, the World Economic Forum has issued a Global Gender Gap Index. According to The Global Gender Gap Report 2013, the authors propose that closing gender gaps is important not only from an equity perspective, but also from an economic one: Research shows that investments in women’s education and use of female talent boost a country’s competitiveness.

    Report authors cite the benefits of more women working: The talent pool across leadership positions is larger, women’s decision making tends to be less risky, and gender-equal teams may be more successful. Countries that have closed education gaps and have high levels of women’s economic participation—the Nordic countries, the United States, the Philippines, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia–are better prepared for global competition.

  • Hedge Competitive Pressures with Innovation
    The competitive landscape has changed dramatically over the last decade. For one, customer preferences are shifting rapidly, placing a higher preference on personalization, interaction and mobile solutions.

    In the Marketing Society’s Forum on “Are We Keeping Pace with Changing Consumer Preferences?”, Louis Fowler, Marketing Director at First Direct, asserts, “We are prone to making the mistake of thinking we can predict what’s going to happen, rather than finding a way to respond quickly when things do. Technology not only enables, but also holds us back as it can be slow and expensive. The answer is in people, not systems.” People, in particular diverse employees, are key to anticipating and addressing changing customer preferences before the competition meets their needs.

    The second major component of competition involves the global context of modern day business. These competitive pressures are not just being felt on businesses. Educational institutions, nonprofits and government entities are concerned about competition as well. For example, Inc. Magazine recently ran an article entitled, “Pushing the Boundaries” by Greg Lindsay. The article highlighted the fact that Santiago, Chile offers entrepreneurs a one-year visa, free workspace and $33,000 in cash to relocate. Meanwhile Tallinn, Estonia, began offering e-residencies, which grants foreigners the same digital identities that are Estonians’ birthright.

  • Stay Abreast of Continuously Changing Demographics & Projections
    California recently scaled back its 2050 Hispanic population projection by 7 million. A Pew Research Center report states that “Under projections published in 2007, the state’s Hispanic population was expected to reach 31 million in 2050, or 52.1% of all Californians. But according to updated projections released late last year, Hispanics are now expected to number 23.7 million in 2050, or 47.6% of all Californians. That pushes the prospect of a Hispanic demographic majority further into the future – perhaps to sometime after 2060.”

    California is not alone. In May 2015, the Washington Post reported, “As the Department of Homeland Security continues to pour money into border security, evidence is emerging that illegal immigration flows have fallen to their lowest level in at least two decades.”  Recent Census reports show that data pertaining to older workers, women, veterans, LGBT, and other demographic groups are also moving targets because of global population changes and the complexity of diversity.

  • Utilize Multi-Dimensional Frameworks
    Speaking of complexity, the U.S. Census Bureau is presently grappling with how to describe current demographics pertaining to existing definitions of race and family, as the current definitions are not as clear-cut as they used to be half a century ago.

    Likewise, in the workplace, using a uni-dimensional framework with employee resource groups, supplier diversity, or recruiting, worked well at some point in the last decade. But employers are quickly learning that using singular dimensions such as race, ethnicity or gender are not sufficient anymore. For example, some companies have been exploring how to create Business Resource Groups that include White men. Additionally, simply having an Employee Resource Group for individuals with disabilities may not adequately serve a company’s growing base of caregivers. Hence, organizations must think beyond current diversity efforts toward the future of inclusion.

In our next webinar for the 2015 Diversity Leadership Retreat, l will discuss 7 areas where you could make more of an impact with diversity and inclusion. To register for this FREE webinar, click here:

Also, we need your feedback! Please participate in a brief survey on “Global Supplier Diversity Trends” at


Leah Smiley is the President of the Society for Diversity. For more information about the Society for Diversity, log onto


How Real Leaders Handle Inappropriate Conduct

By Leah Smiley

firedUnivision reaches 94 million households in the United States. It is the largest Spanish language broadcaster in the U.S., and the fifth largest television network. According to CNN, “Rodner Figueroa, an Emmy Award-winning host and presenter, was fired by the Spanish-language network for remarks he made on-air. In a broadcast on Wednesday, Figueroa said, “Michelle Obama looks like she’s part of the cast of ‘Planet of the Apes.'” He made the comments as a photo of the first lady was shown on screen.

Figueroa was fired on Thursday.

Free Speech proponents assert, “He can say what he wants.” But I will illustrate my response with a brief personal story. For my father’s 60th birthday, my siblings and I hosted a party at The Mansion in Voorhees, NJ. During the event, my siblings reminisced about who received the most spankings while we were growing up– and then everyone looked at me. What I remember most, is not the spankings, but the lectures that accompanied the discipline. It almost made me want to say, “hurry up and get it over with man!” But my father insisted on telling me that “everyone makes mistakes, and that is OK. But for every mistake you make in life, there are consequences.” Sheesh, I hated that word “consequences”.

Some will say, Figueroa was Latino, he wasn’t racist. The courts have ruled that even if a Cuban repeatedly called a Puerto Rican an illegal immigrant (when he or she is not) or a black person called another black person the “N” word in the workplace, your organization could get sued for discrimination. So that means that ethnicity does not preclude one from experiencing consequences for unprofessional and inappropriate conduct.

Keep in mind, there are times when you should NOT terminate an employee. For example,

This is just a partial listing of real U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) cases. But then there are other times when, for the sake of morale and the organization’s reputation, you should take swift and definitive action. Don’t:

  • Ask the person to resign
  • Make the person profusely apologize
  • Wait for the public to demand someone’s head

Fire ’em.

Some will say, “show compassion in an environment where customers are unforgiving”. OK, here’s the bellwether for compassion: will you be terminated in that person’s stead? That’s how you know if you really have compassion, because you believe in what that person did so much that you are willing to take the fall.

If not, fire ’em.

It’s common sense. Grown folks should be intelligent enough to distinguish between professional and unprofessional conduct AT WORK. They should also be considerate of the people that support or buy from your organization (e.g., the Obama Administration has advertised with Univision). And they should be able to determine what is funny versus what will cause a political firestorm or a public relations nightmare.

Common sense will also tell you that management will not allow inappropriate behavior.

The best terminations etch a sketch in workers minds about inappropriate conduct in the workplace. So as not to create an environment of fear, you want to fire the offender swiftly and then communicate with your staff about the termination. Allow them to ask questions, or express concerns. Make sure you reference a specific employment policy so everyone understands that this is not personal. Finally, reaffirm your commitment to an inclusive organizational culture that values ALL workers and great contributions. This is what separates leaders from figureheads.

Unless you are a politician or lobbyist, your personal political beliefs are not relevant at work. Furthermore, discriminatory behavior is never acceptable. At some point, leaders have to take a stand– discerning that allowing unprofessional behavior in the workplace inevitably snowballs into an avalanche of problems.


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

HELP WANTED: Seeking Leaders with the 3C’s

By Leah Smiley


The Associated Press reported that the Board of Directors at American Apparel voted to oust its Founder and CEO, Dov Charney, regarding an investigation into misconduct. What is interesting is that we discuss Dov Charney in the Institute for Diversity Certification’s credentialing program, specifically pertaining to the legal risk that American Apparel faces involving alleged inappropriate sexual conduct in the Executive offices.

While this brilliant Chief Executive is renowned for his unconventional approach and scalable business concept, a search is officially underway for new leadership at American Apparel. In a recent Forbes article, New York Times Best Selling Author Kevin Kruse defines leadership as “a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.” This definition of leadership also applies to Diversity and Inclusion professionals, who are continually seeking to influence the social and cultural climate of the organizations with which we interact.

Nonetheless, in “The Corporate Diversity Charade,” John Fitzgerald Gates, Ph.D., a national diversity expert asserts that “the dirty little secret of corporate America and the practice of diversity is that 25 years after establishing ‘diversity’ offices, most companies have not developed a mature understanding of how diversity can contribute to their bottom lines.” Or, diminish earnings and market share. This is evident when executives, like Dov Charney, have diversity within the ranks, but continue to get hit with harassment, discrimination and retaliation claims. According to Wikipedia, since the mid-2000’s, Dov Charney has been the subject of at least 5 sexual harassment lawsuits that are pending, or have been settled or dismissed.

Dov Charney, however, is not the only misbehaving CEO. Bloomberg Business Week reported that last night John Legere, T-Mobile’s ‘way cool’ CEO, made an ‘unfunny’ comment when he told potential customers that his competitors were, “raping you for every penny you have…” Indeed, we are witnessing a transition from a stale and stodgy C-Suite to corporate environments where shock and awe are the order of the day. Yet, here’s where a skilled Diversity and Inclusion executive is invaluable—because he/she can make the business case in a way that senior leadership trusts and respects.

Here’s what he/she could say in a one-on-one meeting, “Mr. CEO, our employees, customers and investors love our culture because it is so radical, creative and fun. We need to keep that culture– but let’s make sure that we don’t forget about the financial and organizational risks associated with crossing the line. For example, when you said, or did ___________. It could cause some people to think that we don’t value ___________, and you and I know that is not true.”

June 19th marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, and along with civil rights leaders, the business community was a vital component to the passage of this transformational legislation. We have made progress on many fronts, but there is still much work to do.

The word diversity implies that there are many ways in which equity and inclusion professionals could perform this work—but we must master the 3 C’s of leadership: courage, coalitions and competence.

In the workplace, leaders must look to the future and embrace the change that keeps organizations ahead of their competitors. Robert J. Tamasy of CBMC Canada writes, “most high achievers, those that have left indelible marks in their areas of endeavor, have been ones that exhibited uncommon courage – willing to swim against the current, to challenge the status quo, to venture into the unknown with no guarantees of success.” Mr. Tamasy asserts that there are 4 ways to demonstrate courage: in taking a stand, proceeding despite danger, persevering, and acting on convictions.

I talk to a lot of courageous D&I practitioners, and a common complaint is that this type of work is very hard, and you receive little support. But it’s time to change this phenomenon and adapt the true meaning of inclusion, or working with others. This is the only way that Diversity and Inclusion professionals can go beyond the 4 walls in the Office of Diversity toward building programs and structures that are sustainable and successful.

The Free Dictionary by Farlex defines a coalition as “an alliance or union between groups, factions, or parties, for some specific action; the act of making or becoming a single unit.” Could this definition imply that the Office of Diversity, working alone, is outside of the scope and parameters of the organizational fabric? And by forming “coalitions” (especially with critics), the Office of Diversity will be able to perform specific actions better? I’m being facetious, but you get the point.

Finally, our courage and coalitions must be balanced with competence. This may be indicated by putting strategic ideas in writing, linking diversity and inclusion to business objectives, and using data to substantiate one’s interventions and goals. For example, beyond reporting how many people attended a diversity training session, it may be better to measure the outcomes of such learning.

According to the Business Briefing “Learning and Analytics” by Success Factors (an SAP Company), “the inability of companies to establish robust statistics that clearly demonstrate direct links between learning and business improvement” is a major reason why some feel that learning interventions are ineffective. “Without analytics,” it suggests, “you are at risk of driving your learning strategy blind, and never realizing the results you expected to gain. By combining traditional training reporting with business data from other systems…it is possible to quantify the commercial benefits of any learning activity in real time.”


The Society for Diversity understands that unlike the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s, there are thousands of diversity and inclusion leaders. Accordingly, the Society offers a variety support systems such as the 2014 Diversity Leadership Retreat, diversity certification, resources and technical assistance, to members and non-members alike. Our goal is to empower many leaders to become the most knowledgeable, skilled, and practiced diversity experts in the world. And through our goal, we can help others see the value in diversity and experience measurable business impact.

American Apparel isn’t the only company seeking new leadership; the Society for Diversity also wants leaders with the 3 C’s to support us on this journey.

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

How Diversity and Inclusion Credentials Can Help You

Over the years, it has become increasingly apparent that a strong diversity and inclusion strategy is critical for any organization that seeks to improve and maintain their competitive advantage. Focusing on a diverse and inclusive environment is not just a “nice” program, or “the right thing to do”; it offers an opportunity to capitalize on global and technologically savvy talent, changing customer demographics, socially responsible investors, as well as international partners and suppliers.

Every employer, with 100 or more workers, needs a Chief Diversity Officer, or individuals who can help the organization gain a competitive advantage by leveraging its differences and fostering a high-performing, inclusive culture. Smaller organizations can utilize a diversity council, while larger employers must have a designated person to coordinate its diversity and inclusion efforts.

A 2008 Diversity Best Practices survey found that the average salary for a Chief Diversity Officer at a U.S.-based Fortune 500 was $225,000. This salary will vary depending on title, function, industry, employer size, and more. For example, according to the 2010-11 Administrative Compensation Survey conducted by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, the average salary for Chief Diversity Officers at educational institutions was $102,447.

In this field, a high salary can be a plus (especially when you consider all of the challenges that this position may experience); nevertheless, there are high expectations for results. The problem is that many are unsure what types of results they should be getting. An organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts will generally have variable outcomes for three reasons. These “outcomes” are determined by:  (1) the knowledge and skill of the diversity practitioner and/or supporting team members; (2) the level of organizational commitment to diversity and inclusion; and (3) the organization’s stage of development on the diversity and inclusion continuum.

Accordingly, bottom-line impact will also vary from organization to organization. For example, the American Red Cross counts volunteers and donations. While government agencies, like the IRS, may have a service-oriented bottom line. Still, all organizations, whether for-profit or not, depend on their ability to get the best possible return on dollars invested.

This is where the Institute for Diversity Certification (IDC) helps. IDC’s education and credentialing program centers on inclusion, speaking the language of senior executives (i.e., finance), and measurable impact. It is a business management program for Diversity and Inclusion professionals. 

Our program does not simply “teach” to pass the test– although participants only want to focus on what’s on the exam– it prepares individuals to be successful in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and how to get consistent results.

When you get Certified Diversity Professional (CDP) or Certified Diversity Executive (CDE) credentials from the Institute for Diversity Certification, you will:

  • Learn how to tackle cultural challenges and projected demographic changes with a proactive, positive and purposeful strategy.
  • Understand how to develop team leads to guide and sustain diversity and inclusion efforts.
  • Create a meaningful blueprint for success with a direct link to organizational goals and the bottom line.

Once you complete IDC’s program with an 80% or better, you will demonstrate competence, and the confidence, to get great results. Our designees are recognized as elite players in the field, and demonstrate excellence in their work.

Apply today for the November 2013 exam window. The next exam window begins in March/April 2014– so don’t miss out on an opportunity to make a positive impact on your organization now. Get more information at

By Leah Smiley, CDE


Leah Smiley is the President and Founder of the Society for Diversity. For more information about the Society for Diversity, log onto

Micro-Managing: Keeping a Lid on Your Organization’s Growth! By Enrique Ruiz

Rick Ruiz


Could the idea of keeping a lid on your organization’s growth be a real sustainable paradigm? Today’s economic climate demands innovation and greater creativity to solve current problems. Fortunately, all of our organizations can tap into the diversity of thought that resides within our human capital reservoirs and find new solutions, new products, and new markets.

All too often though, personal insecurities, lack of training and management misconceptions suppress creativity, motivation and efficiencies. Do you know of a manager that closely observes or controls the work of subordinates? Merriam Webster indicates that the term micromanage is “to manage especially with excessive control or attention to details.” This may seem like a good management focus area but people are obviously different from machines where constant monitoring is required to ensure variables do not get out of hand.

As the organization was built, we hired our team members for a specific skill set that they could fulfill. Their particular contribution complements and supplements other areas of the organization as well. As a manager, we certainly know some things BUT we do not know what we do not know. What will our employee’s be able to enlighten us on that can be done better, faster, cheaper?

Google reports that the term “micromanager” is searched an average 22,000 times a month and a parallel term “the control freak” 74,000 times a month. These observables indicate that micromanaging is a topic of concern and if it is not arrested in time… some elements of personal motivation is bound to be squelched within the organization. Would you pay for a performance car only to put a governor on the vehicle? That is in essence what happens when we are dealing with genius capital.

To be sure, micromanaging can be beneficial in the short term if we are the experts on a given task and need to create successors that can carry the baton. In time though, we need to step back and realize that there are many ways to get a job done and ours may just be up for a renewal.

Micromanaging on a long-term basis is a survival ploy for self-preservation and a means to perpetuate a “keep the status quo” mindset within the organization. It does not communicate a synergistic tone where cooperation germinates shared ideas that may yield a better solution than any one contributor could offer on their own. Overt and continuous micromanaging will soon translate into personnel mismanagement.

Micromanagers actions communicate one, or more, of the following subliminal messages:


  • I don’t trust you
  • You are incompetent without me
  • I am insecure
  • I don’t care what you think
  • It better be done my way
  • I need to show my power
  • I don’t have anything else better to do
  • I want the credit


Individuals want to be a part of a winning organization but when their own sense of identity is robbed, their spirits diminish and the marketplace becomes an attractive pastime in search of better opportunities. In time, the organization will experience unnecessary turnover, high recruiting costs, additional training and the loss of the original investment made in a former employee.

Isolated incidences of micromanagement can be construed as a benefit when one is pushing the envelope of normalcy forging into new arenas that are visionary for the very few. Steve Jobs (Apple), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Jeff Bezo’s (Amazon) and Walt Disney (Disney) are all reported famous micromanagers that took on high-risk ventures but their vision was ahead of its time. An accommodating, complacent business paradigm would not have catapulted these companies into stardom on a global scale, and most of their employees understood this concept going along for the ride until they became part of the vision.

For most organizations however, moderate risk taking is the norm with controlled incremental growth being the desired outcome.  Employees will perform their best when they have a sense of autonomy, they understand the purpose of their task (and the organization’s mission) and they are given the opportunity to master their role. As a manager, realize that you can actually achieve more by doing less yourself when you empower your employees. Give credit where credit is due and show your appreciation for novel approaches that are just as effective, if not more. Harry Truman, 33rd US President, encapsulated these thoughts best when he said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

If you are an employee working for a micromanager you can help the micromanager reduce their stress level by:


  • Saying What you Are Going to Do
  • Doing What you Say You Will Do
  • Informing Proactively When Things Change


In business, there is a symbiotic relationship between managers and employees. Mutual respect is a common thread that must flow across layers of our collective human capital in order to maximize potential on both personal and organizational levels. Where could you be tomorrow if you remove the micromanager control lid and enable your organization to perform at its peak?


By Enrique ‘Rick’ Ruiz, CDE, CM, MBA

A Strategy of Diversity

By Leah Smiley

Strategic management is an ongoing process that provides overall direction to an enterprise and enables an organization to achieve its long-term goals. It consists of a range of activities from business planning and decision making, to business unit integration and policy, to communications and evaluation.


Peter Drucker was an influential pioneer and one of my favorite strategic management theorists. He made many important contributions to strategic management, but two are particularly notable. First, Mr. Drucker stressed the importance of objectives. An organization without clear objectives is like a ship without a rudder. Second, Mr. Drucker foresaw the importance of what would soon be called “intellectual capital”.  He predicted the rise of what he called the “knowledge worker” and explained the consequences of this for management. He said that knowledge work is non-hierarchical. Work would be carried out in teams with the person most knowledgeable in the task at hand being the temporary leader.


Now, in order for these groups to be successful, innovation, valuing differences in conflict, communication, and team building are all extremely useful. The value of these diversity skills cannot be overestimated, especially in an organization’s efforts to fulfill or exceed its goals. Additionally, in respect to gaining market share (or increasing donations, or enrolling more students), having a business strategy that incorporates diversity allows an organization to take full advantage of global opportunities. This strategy will integrate diversity into all organizational functions including HR, marketing, corporate contributions, procurement, legal, technology, and customer service to name a few.


Sometimes I feel like I’m beating a dead horse, but I can never emphasize enough how important it is to have a formal, written diversity plan.  We plan for retirement, we plan for vacation, we plan for our children’s education—but when it comes to an issue as important as diversity, we take the approach that doing a few programs in accordance to a schedule, constitutes our plan.  There are no measurable tasks, no expected outcomes, and no efforts to align our activities to organizational goals.


In a former life, I used to be a management consultant and prepared business plans for small business owners.  Years later, I can see how those formal plans that I prepared made the difference between success and failure. And that’s what a diversity plan will mean for you as well.  As one wise person once said, “the person who fails to plan, plans to fail.”  But I say, “don’t fail, do everything within your power to be the best you can possibly be.  Create a strategic diversity plan.”

At what point is “the system” unfair?

From college admissions to “equal pay for equal work”, when does fairness become an issue that must be addressed and changed? Aren’t there recognizable signs that indicate “inequity”? And if so, what are they?

I read an article about Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’ son getting admitted to UCLA on a full football scholarship. Instead of joy that a young, black football star can aspire for greatness with a 3.75 GPA and gain admittance to a Division I school, there were a lot of cynical reader comments. Many said that he should give the scholarship back because his dad is rich, while others said that he shouldn’t have been admitted to UCLA because he was displacing white students with higher GPA’s. My thought was, “it’s OK for the media to lambast the low achievements of black students, particularly males, but when these individuals make significant accomplishments… something has to be wrong.”

On both sides of the debate is this nagging issue of fairness. However, it is not just in college admissions, but in the workplace also where women and moms are regularly stereotyped, passed up for promotions, and paid less. If you are a male and your wife’s salary was the only income, wouldn’t you want her paid equally for her work? Nonetheless, let’s not assume that men are the only people making compensation decisions…

Further, let’s research all of the kids from wealthy families who gained admittance to college or received scholarships based on their family’s connections. Guess what– there’s a lot of them. Not only did they displace a student with a higher GPA but they also didn’t give the scholarship money back.

(I’m being facetious here…) since working women and moms have such a lack of workplace savvy and commitment, let’s also research all of the female entrepreneurs who started businesses and managed a family—ultimately, making hundreds of millions of dollars.

These are just two examples of many. And maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I think the restraints and stereotypes that we impose on others are a little self-serving—especially if we see unfairness, ignore/justify it, and then make others feel guilty for using the same privileges that some people have benefited from for years. This also makes me believe that some of us acknowledge that “the system” is unfair only when it affects our own personal interests.

Here’s the solution: when we see unfairness (in education, criminal justice, housing, the media, our places of work, our campuses, etc.) we need to speak up. We all know what unfairness looks like; let’s not wait until it affects us before we decide to take action. Nevertheless, I caution you at the same time: be fair.

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