How To Manage After the Events at Charlottesville

This weekend was hurtful and horrible for America.

On Friday,  in Charlottesville, Virginia, White Supremacists marched with torches thru the city to the statue of Thomas Jefferson located on the campus of University of Virginia in protest of decisions to remove several monuments of Civil War Confederate Army “heroes”. They chanted racial slurs as they walked. Their march was approved for Saturday but they decided to start early to send a stronger message.

On Saturday, their real march commenced and was met with counter-protesters who didn’t want these people or their views to bring a negative national spotlight to their town. This culminated in one of the supremacists plowing his car into a crowd, killing one person and wounding at least 20 others.

By Sunday, several of the supremacist participants had been identified thru the photos and videos posted on social media. Their names were posted online and shared thousands of time. Their employers were contacted and many of them lost their jobs.

By Monday,  more counter protests formed and proceeded in cities all across the US calling for the supremacist to be labeled and prosecuted as a domestic terrorist. In several cities, angry counter protesters vandalized and tore down the Civil War Confederate monuments. One of those cities was Durham, NC which is about 15 minutes away from me.

Meanwhile, 15 minutes in the other direction from me, someone arranged all the mannequins in a department store at the mall so their arms were raised in Nazi salute.

Hurtful and horrible. And hard to work with your normal level of focus after that.

While in the breakroom on Monday, I had an employee ask if we would fire someone for doing the things those people (mostly men — but there were women there too) did in Charlottesville over the weekend or what the people did in Durham on Monday.

My answer? “I’m just glad I don’t have to make those kinds of decisions today.”

As the day went on, the question gnawed at me. I wondered what would happen if our organization was faced with this.

Then I realized that IF will soon give way to WHEN as this country continues to become more and more divided along racial lines.

Like it or not, your employees are likely to participate in protests. They are likely to end up on social media while doing it. It is likely someone who disagrees with them will try to identify them and notify you in hopes of getting them fired. It is a possibility they will get arrested. It is a possibility they will be injured. It is a possibility they will be changed by what they witness.

Your organization had better be prepared.

  1. Remind employees on your policy surrounding conduct, harassment/discrimination and social media use … Most organizations have policies on all these things and periodic reminders are normal. Do not be threatening or discouraging toward their rights and choices — but remind them to be ethical and responsible in their choices.
  2. Evaluate your time off policies … Most employers already allow time off for voting. Many allow time off for volunteer work for charitable caused. Some are even allowing time off to participate in political protests. Consider if your organization wants to differentiate this way. Consider if you want to press your employees for more information and documentation surrounding their time off uses.
  3. Create a procedure for handling reports on your employees … When an anonymous, concerned person sends you a photo or video of your employee involved in conduct that is a violation of your policies, know what your process will be for handling it. Know how you’re going to respond to the reports. Know how you’re going to investigate the issue. Know the range of corrective action you’re going to take.
  4. Denounce White Supremacy … Yes, that really is necessary in these times. Your organization and its leadership should publicly denounce White Supremacy and separate yourself immediately from any employee, customer, client or vendor who you know participates in such hateful rhetoric and activities. If your policies on conduct and harassment/discrimination are real and true, this shouldn’t be difficult. But it is and it will be. It is difficult and uncomfortable and scary. Do it anyway.

*It will also be difficult, uncomfortable and scary to not take a similar stance on other kinds of protesters. If your policies on equal employment opportunity are real and true, it shouldn’t be. Fairness and equality do not mandate you to accept both. In fact, there are whole government agencies dedicated to making sure both are not accepted. Don’t feel one bit bad for that and do not back off your stance from the fear. 

Walking the talk on diversity and inclusion is all fun and games until one of your employees has gone viral for carrying a torch shouting racial slurs while making Nazi hand gestures.

When that happens, your organization’s position on diversity and inclusion are going to get very real, very quickly.

Know what you’re going to do when that day comes before that day comes.

Because it is coming. America is regressing. Don’t let your organization be dragged back with it.

Prioritizing Your Priorities

Productivity has become a huge focus for me in 2017.

Juggling multiple priorities for me is nothing new. However, as my responsibilities and team continues to grow, I have to be more organized in order to remain effective.

I also have to be more aware of how I invest my time and energy. I have to make sure the most important tasks and people get my time and attention — and that they get me when I am at my best.

This doesn’t change how many hours there are in the day. Or that despite my very best efforts, urgent situations arise and other items have to be pushed to the backburner.

When that happens, I have to adjust quickly or my productivity for the day  will be ruined.

When I have to prioritize my priorities, I ask myself 4 questions:

Where can I pass? The first thing I do is look for items I can delegate. While I would love to be involved in everything, I know I can’t. And it has become much more important to me that things get done than that I be the one to do them. Decisions we make are rarely permanent. I can always go back and fix something that the other person missed — or ask them to move the project forward so I can pick it back up later.

Where can I pause? Then next thing I do is look for items I can move lower on the list or to the following week. Usually, there are items on our to-do lists that can wait. When urgent issues arise, moving other items to a later date is a logical step.

Where can I punt? Once I have delegated and move items to later dates, I look for items I can delay for a greater period of time or permanently reassign. This is different than passing or pausing because, when you punt, you do not have intention on returning to the item for quite some time — if ever. Punting removes the item from your to-do list for 90 days or longer.

Where must I push? With items delegated, delayed and diverted, I am left with only the things I absolutely have to do. I can reset my priorities based on the deadlines and importance of those tasks.

Your time and energy are precious commodities that you only have so much of each day. Be sure you are giving it to the people and items that need it most.

If you can punt it, pause it or pass it, then it isn’t a priority. Fix your focus on the remaining things and push through!

Dear Pepsi, Your Apology Sucks

Pepsi released a commercial ad this week featuring model and Kardashian sister Kendall Jenner wandering into a protest and resolving the tensions by handing out Pepsi drinks.

The imagery was an homage to a popular #BlackLivesMatter photo.

And the world went awwwwwffffff!!

Pepsi faced immediate criticism and was violently, mercilessly and deservedly dragged on social media for launching this insensitive, racist campaign.

On Wednesday, Pepsi pulled the commercial and cancelled the remainder of the associated campaign. They issued the following statement:

Clearly, we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.

Worst. Apology. Ever.

Let’s break this down.

Clearly we missed the mark and we apologize

  1.  “Clearly” is passive-aggressive AF. Much like “basically” and “accordingly”, it is a rude word masking as authority and sincerity.
  2. You apologize? Or are you sorry? Cuz there is a difference. Apologies are usually for people who are mad that they were called out. Sorrys are for people who have actual remorse.

We did not intend to make light of any serious issue

  1.  You didn’t??? Cuz it sure AF looks like you did.
  2. You didn’t make light of ANY serious issues, you made light of a very specific serious issue. And that issue is the murders of unarmed people of color by the police without appropriate review and justice. That is the very serious issue the carefully selected imagery you likely spent tens of thousands of dollars analyzing before you filmed, edited and launched this campaign very much made light of.
  3. If you weren’t intending to make light of the issue, what was your intention??? Inquiring minds really want to know. Cuz it looks like your for real were saying everything would be better if people would just drink more Pepsi and chill.

We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout

  1. That’s probably the only good thing you said … but the internet lasts foreverrrrrr tho. This isn’t going away just because the commercial stops airing.
  2. I can’t believe y’all admitted there was actually going to be more of this fuckery.

We also apologize to Kendall Jenner for putting her in this position

  1.  Kendall Jenner and her family have been profiting from the cultural appropriation of Black people for DECADES now. I used to really luh the Kardashians so I know this is true. The “position” that she was in is one she and her peoples are quite comfortable with. And I’m guessing y’all won’t be taking back the money you paid her so she gon’ be aight.
  2. Kendall Jenner is NOT the one you offended. She willingly performed work that you paid her for. Apologizing to her with more specificity than to the victims of police brutality or to their families or to the people who are on the front lines fighting for justice shows that you still don’t get it and likely never will.

Woosssaaahhh!! This is why we cannot have nice things!!

There are lots of people out there who think Black people and other people of color are too sensitive on these issues.

Ffff that bull$#%&, yo!

We have been too tolerant for too long. And we’re long overdue to speak up and speak out on the foolishness we see.

It is time for people and companies to stop giving lip-service to diversity, inclusion, sensitivity, caring, support and consciousness — only to turn around and do stuff like this then issue half-azzed apologies.

If you’re going to do stuff, use your whole azz! And if you don’t have an azz, get some padding or an implant or something. There’s all kinds of help out there if your azz is lacking.

Kendall Jenner and her peoples can help you out with that if you need it. They know a lot about using their azz and padding it as needed.

I digress. Woosah!

Just do better … Do better. DO BETTER!!

What does better look like??

Well, in Pepsi’s case, it would have been using all that brilliant market research not to do this in the first place. It would have been better to know that imagery associated with injustice and oppression should never be white-washed to peddle soft drinks.

But once Pepsi failed at that, it would have better to give a full explanation of their thinking and a sincere apology to the actual people who were hurt by police brutality and whose images were re-purposed for their narrow agenda … It would have been better to offer donations to the related causes …  It would have been better for Kendall Jenner to donate some if not all of her salary as well … It would have been better if Pepsi publicly committed to joining the fight for justice because of their error and used money from their sales to feed, bail out and defend protesters … It would have been better if Pepsi committed to working with organizations focused  increasing socially responsible behavior and understanding.

That’s what doing better looks like.

So the next time you find yourself making an egregious error in judgment along these lines, don’t just issue a half-azzed apology and move on.

Use your whole azz. And do better.

There’s still time, Pepsi. I hope you do better … cuz we’d hate to have to give up the sugary, bubbly deliciousness of your beverage and subsidiaries.

Do better, Pepsi. Do better, everyone. The streets are watching.

Addressing Gender Bias Complaints

Last week’s post discussed ways to show women the respect they deserve at work. One of the recommendations was believing women when they bring gender bias and discrimination to management’s attention.

When the issues are not blatant, it can be difficult to determine if a problem really exists … and more difficult to know what to do about it.

Inevitably, the woman is going to say something happened — but the man is going to say there is no issue and it is all in the other woman’s mind. That pesky discrimination dogwhistle is going to continue to blow — and your workplace will suffer and be at risk.

Count on it.

How do you get to the truth?

Look for patterns

Review communications for tone and timing. Also look at audience and escalation. If there is bias, you will find the messages have a negative, condescending and/or demanding tone. You will also find copying of unnecessary other people on messages and/or escalating issues to the woman’s supervisor which should be resolved a peer level … Compare these patterns to the handling of communications with male co-workers in similar positions and see if the same thing is happening. If not, gender bias is likely at play and it should be addressed.

Listen for buzzwords

Pay attention to how women are described. Girls, gals and females are words that can chip away at respect for women in the workplace. Some other buzzwords are dramatic, emotional, nagging, whiny, bossy and pushy.  Even worse are words like pussy and bitch … When traits associated with women or being a woman are used as negative adjectives to describe anyone in your workplace, it is wrong — and gender bias is likely at play and it should be addressed.

Learn from witnesses

Your employees are smart and they see what’s going on. Many are eager to share their observations and feedback. Utilize witnesses to gain insight into the issues. Ask what they have seen occur between the parties involved and what their own observations and experiences have been … See if they say the treatment for all is the same. If not, gender bias is likely at play and it should be addressed.

Gender bias is happening. Now what???

Gender bias in your workplace doesn’t mean firing all the men and replacing them with women. The goal should always be to maintain diversity, inclusion and fairness.

What it does mean sharing the feedback and taking corrective action with the men who show gender bias behaviors.  It means declaring what is unacceptable. It means outlining what is appropriate. It means providing one or both parties with training to improve communication and inclusion skills. It means not allowing these kinds of behaviors to continue.

That means following up with both individuals routinely to assess progress. It means resetting expectations. It means defining timelines and deadlines for improvement. It means checking in periodically to ensure sustained effort.

Because eliminating bias in our workplaces isn’t just a one-and-done kind of thing. It takes continuous, concentrated and committed effort. It is nothing to play with.

Don’t start the work if you don’t intend to finish it.

 

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