down with these people who were my colleagues
FORUM: Is it easier for people
and my friends and say “I didn’t realize what I
I gave them permission to help me improve
by letting me know what I need to approach that
kind of microaggression again. That was hard for
both of us. I’m looking at them seeing the pain
that I’ve caused them and trying to apologize.
Unfortunately, apologies aren’t something that
come as readily as they used to perhaps in our
world, whether it’s corporate or education or
political. I think that’s where you start.
to seek guidance if they feel
they are represented in upper
It is easier and there’s a great deal of data to
back that up. If you look like me, whatever that
look may be, in terms of religion or ethnicity
or sexuality, etc., then I’m more likely to feel
connected to you and go to you for assistance.
However, I think that if I circle back to what I
said at the beginning about awareness, be aware
that the help that you need can come from any
vessel. There are all kinds of really good people
out there who don’t look like me, who are not of
the same background as me, but who are passionately intent on helping people. That’s what
I would say first, just in terms of getting help
or getting assistance or getting mentorship. The
person would not have to have my background.
FORUM: Diversity has
improved overall in associations, but that improvement
has happened mostly at lower
levels. How can organizations
improve diversity all the way up
the to the C-Suite?
In terms of diversity going up the food chain,
there’s an old saying, “Power doesn’t give up
anything without a struggle.” Whenever there
is a significant cultural change in an organi-
zation—bringing in a woman, bringing in a
minority, any group—there can be a productivity
dip while the organization is resettling. It may
last two months or two years, but it’s during
those times that the leadership of an organiza-
tion can be replaced for a lack of productivity.
CEOs and presidents know this. They know that
if they raise the alarm about diversity, that’s
fine. It’s one thing to do it, it’s another thing
for an organization to be culturally prepared for
that. If they are not and they have to go through
this productivity dip, that could lead the CEO
to lose his or her job. When a president or CEO
or the board of an organization decides that
diversity is important, they will demand that it
happens. When they know that it is so import-
ant that they are willing to navigate through the
productivity dip, then we will be able to make
significant cultural change.
On the bright side, I believe that there are
organizations that see this happening and, either
for economic reasons or because it’s the right
thing to do, they make significant adjustments.
You’re going to see it from the top down. They
are going to be willing to navigate the produc-
tivity dip on the front end, because they have
planned for it. They don’t want to lose money or
market share and they don’t want to disappoint
their shareholders, so they will plan for it signifi-
cantly. They will make the announcement, they
will push forward and they will lead industries
in reorganizing diversity and inclusion and gen-
erational balance and equity. They are going to
do that. I firmly believe that is going to happen.
There are a lot of really good people out there
who weren’t trained for generational politics and
diversity and inclusion, but are figuring it out.
They were finance people or they were lawyers or
they were something else, but now they have to
realize how critical or how important this is.
Conversely, I think there are organizations
that aren’t that way. I think there are a minority
of organizations that believe “they” need to be
more like “us.” As soon as they can figure out
how to be like us, then we can get along. If they,
whoever they are, can never truly be like us,
then they need to recognize that they are less
than. That is where there are maximum amounts
of conflict. That’s where the lack of understand-