Supporting Workplace Diversity and Inclusion: Values and Beliefs

The course is designed to help attendees dig deep and unpack the workings of bias in a safe and inclusive learning space. Not only is it a chance to unpack their bias, but it is also a space to evaluate their knowledge, perspectives, and understanding of diversity and inclusion. Those two words have been misunderstood.

The toxic “isms” that plague our society are linked to the human condition. In other words, we are all subtly influenced by cultural doctrines based on mythical beliefs and one-sided hand-me-down stories that lead to a general disregard for the dignity and worth of others. The course employs the strategic use of questions to help participants think critically about their thinking.

From first to last, the course is about developing the skills, knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes that support inclusive public and private spaces.

Regardless of the format you choose (in class, webinar, or hybrid self-study & live facilitator), the training session contains three distinct yet connected modules: AwarenessAnalysis and Action.

A question to consider

Life contains many issues that have a moral dimension that may or may not be connected to law. 

The word moral is dangerous when left undefined. It is ambiguous given that the moral content of an issue is always discerned through a specific lens or measured with a specific meter.  There are different moral standards that we could use to answer the question posed by the article’s title. We’ll  keep things simple by leveraging  the principle of “do no harm to others” to uncover the moral dimension of prejudice.

The question could be framed as, “Does prejudice lead to physical or emotional harm?”  Perhaps a better question might be, “Would a rational, prudent, impartial person acknowledge that prejudice violates contemporary ideals, norms, or values of respect for persons?” 

I think it’s good to acknowledge that the question won’t capture all of the nuances of a particular situation. It does, however, provide good guidance.

Prejudice could also be considered an ambiguous word. Let’s define it as a condition that affects our behavior toward other people. It can be discerned in us when all of the following symptoms are present:

  1. Prejudging a person or group using hand-me-down stories;
  2. Holding derogatory beliefs;
  3. Hostility and fear are the dominant feelings associated with a person or group;
  4. Inclination to hinder, hurt, or support others in doing the same.

Would someone manifesting the above symptoms violate contemporary ideas, norms, or values of respect for persons? 

Let me morph an old proverb as an answer: The proof of the pudding can be found on the receiving. You will need to understand the lived experiences of those you hold prejudices against or at minimum listen to their voices.

Being a professional

A view of professionalism

Providing competent professional service is a two-act structure consisting of knowledge of the tools and processes as well as knowing the population you serve.

Knowing the population you serve may seem like a purely intellectual enterprise ringed with the ideals of objectivity and distance. Yet, we need to recognize the affective component of knowing any population that hinders objectivity.

A professional can never be truly object; we all experience people and situations through the lens of our beliefs, values, goals, history, and worldview.

Perhaps to truly approach objectivity requires self-awareness of your personal goals, motivations, and reason for what you have chosen to profess.

Attitude Inoculation

There is a way to resist negative peer pressure or the judgemental conduct of others around you: Make a public commitment to your position and welcome mild attacks.

At the start of any negative interaction, stating your commitment to your position or conviction publicly is key. Standing up to your conviction will make you less susceptible or open to negative peer pressure or shaming.

Research shows that when you attack a committed person just enough for them to react but not become overwhelmed (a mild attack), they become more committed.

In fact, several mild attacks can immunize a person and empower them to resist more powerful attacks against their position.

Mild attacks stimulate us to reflect on counterarguments. Several studies suggest that counterarguing helps people build their resistance against persuasion.

James Damore: Before reading

BEFORE READING ACTIVITY

James Damore, a former senior engineer for Google, seemed to have done himself in through a self-inflicted wound. Sports  analogy. He did an own-goal.

Before reading his paper, I want to reflect on my secondhand encounters with his memo. In fact I am going to pursue an important reading strategy that involves before, during, and after reading questions to construct meaning.

 

MY BIAS

I must say that I am prone to being biased or skeptical when it comes to using biology and the study of human behavior to explain social issues or patterns. I’d much prefer if we all just blamed the media.

Although, my background is in social sciences, I still think that social science is pseudoscience. Why? I’ll be generous. Humans are at best 2 parts rational to 1 part irrational, while biology deals only with rational things.

What has stuck with me through my years was the candid confession of a professor. He said, “If you get a model that explains 30% of variation, you’ve hit the jackpot.”

My intent is not to be dirty or a mean-man. I’m guessing that that most of the research James draws on is pseudoscience.

Initially, I only heard aural accounts of his shenanigans. In the early days of the story, James was portrayed as an idiot at best and an angry bigot. He seemed to be someone selling old theories and beliefs about immutable genetic traits leading to substantial differences and personalities between the sexes. Immutable genetics drive-by.

I WONDER?

I wondered if his motive was at its core about anger issues. Anger with having to listen to “propaganda”. Anger with his chances of being CEO leveling to 50/50.

I encountered him visually and aurally predominantly on conservative social media. I always listen to conservative social media voices when I want or feel the need to be distracted by shiny objects.

I have to confess that I really enjoyed listening to James stumble through his practiced apologia: I just wanted to suggest ways to create a culture that attracts women into tech.

Very noble. However, the proof of the pudding is always in the eating.

I’m wondering if James is just an armchair expert? Some experts seem to defend him as someone who has read lots of studies. Some even go so far as to suggest that his scientific background is a solid enough foundation to accept his voice.

My testosterone-self thinks he should have stuck to coding. He looks like a brilliant coder.

LISTEN TO RENE PLEASE

I found this quote in my first year Calculus textbook:

What passes for “knowledge” in our time is an uncritical mishmash of sense and nonsense, fact and guesswork, gossip and hearsay and clumsy propaganda – mostly acquired from wishful thinking, lazy reasoning, inadequate senses, credulous parents, overworked teachers, and self-serving institutions.

The above is apparently the opinion of Rene Descartes at the age of 23 years old.

DURING READING QUESTIONS

Here are my during reading questions:

  1. Is he a moron or a misunderstood hero?
  2. Has he explored counter-arguments to what may strictly be a reliance on nature arguments?
  3. Is his memo weighted towards solutions? What are they?
  4. Is the science credible and relevant to his apologia?
  5. Should he have left this issue to the experts? Is he an expert?
  6. Is is memo just pyrite (fool’s gold)?
  7. Is he looking to use science to support a gender caste system?

“If we will only abstain from assuming something to be true which is not, and always follow the necessary order in deducing one thing from another, there is nothing so remote that we cannot reach it, nor so hidden that we cannot discover it” (a quotation from Part 2 of Descartes’ Discourse on Method)