How We Can Continue Advancing Diversity in the Workplace in the Trump Era
On November 8th, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. It was more of a disappointment than a surprise to me. I somehow thought that the winds of progress were stronger than his rhetoric of fear mongering and bullying. But this is not a political post. During the week I connected with some of my successful female and/or minority/immigrant friends and realized that we all had the scary sensation of a sexist and racist boss taking charge. We felt helpless; we couldn’t just switch a country because we didn’t like the new president.
Change comes from the top and President Obama’s actions and stance on advancing women’s roles in society have been making a big difference. Trump’s attitude and expressions so far have been exactly the opposite of progress.
I previously talked about how leaders in the global world need to embody both masculine and feminine qualities. Trump’s victory cannot lead us to disregard the very necessary feminine qualities such as compassion, empathy and humility nor can we afford to become cynical about the future.
How do we go on from here?
At work, our role is clear: We have to inspire and educate our colleagues and subordinates to think differently, to respect others, and to create a safe environment where everyone can contribute.
In some workplaces we may encounter a bully whose behavior is too often justified by excuses such as “he/she delivers results.” This is not just an individual's behavior but a reflection of the culture that lets him or her thrive. When entrusted with a position of power, we should not accept these behaviors. Respect and fair treatment of others must always be a pre-requisite if you want to create a pleasant and productive workplace.
Other times we may not have the power to take action by ourselves, this is why internal grievance channels are so important. Some executives don’t like to make these channels very public because of fear of reputational damage. It is, however, paramount that the organization highlights specific cases and practices zero tolerance for bad behavior (of course while respecting privacy). Without concrete action, employees will not feel safe to report abuse for fear of retaliation.
I will leave you with these inspiring words, written by a very talented female leader who preferred to stay anonymous.
“It has been the case when I was growing up in the USSR and it might be the case in the US for the next four to eight years: our own morals/values are sharply misaligned with those of the ruling party/person. That means that we as parents are more than ever responsible for instilling values in our kids. Because bigotry, sexism and racism are not acceptable, even when the president is like that, even when most of the country is not bothered by that, even when media portrays it as a "no big deal", it matters on the individual level.
These four years will force us to have uncomfortable conversations, keep verbalizing our beliefs in human rights, justice and equality, and, hopefully, prepare our kids for the real world where they will be confident and true to themselves, no matter what the popular opinion is. As far as women's progress, we just saw that women will continue to have to work twice as hard as men (in the office, at home, in society), always be prepared, maintain their dignity for a mere opportunity to be recognized. The crude reality is that sometimes the recognition does not materialize. However, the legacy of that perseverance will remain and will have an impact even if the society/system does not reward the woman. Hillary Clinton impacted millions of women, gave them a voice and that is a legacy that cannot be tarnished.”
Miriam Grobman Consulting works with organizations that want to advance more talented women into leadership roles by breaking cultural barriers and giving them the right skills to be successful. Our approach is data-driven, global and collaborative. Contact us if you'd like to discuss the right strategy for your organization.
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