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2017 Spectrum Event Part2

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The development that we go through is just that. It's developmental. And I'm going to say, prior to about 15 years ago, I had no idea about this developmental process. I just thought you're either racist or you're not a racist. You're either sexist or you're not a sexist. You're either there or you're not there. And this is how we tended to talk about diversity and inclusion.

But I'm here to offer another approach, that it's developmental, much like reading and math proficiency. And we go through a developmental process. This country has gone and is going through a developmental process. We went from being somewhat oblivious to cultural differences and having a very simplistic view of cultures that were not like dominant culture to a place where we begin to polarize those differences. We take an "us" and "them" and our culture is better than their culture.

And up came the civil rights movement and the push for equality. And this is where we find ourselves today in this, what we would call, a transitional space, where we over-emphasize commonality and we minimize difference. We say things like, I don't even see you as a black man. I just see you as a human being. I don't see you as a woman. I just see you as my colleague. I just kind of scratch my head. Because I don't tan like you, man. It's a very perplexing position to in one breath, see me, but in the same breath, not see me.

And I've done this. I've worked through a lot of this myself. And I understand the undertone to it. And this is what I've come to realize, that very often when people have said that to me, or when I've said that to someone else, usually the subtext is I don't see you as all of the negative stereotypes and images that I've associated, or some people would associate, with that part of your identity.

That's what I've come to realize. When I say, you know, I don't see you as a woman. I just see you as one of my—what I'm saying is, I don't see you as this overemotional, you know, you only can see big picture, you don't look at detail— all that stuff. I'm serious. That's what was in my head when I made that statement. So this is where we are right now. We're overemphasizing our commonality.

The challenge with that is imagine, if you will, you're telling Nehrwr that you don't see me as a black man, all right? And you say, I'm going to treat you like one of the team. I don't see that part of your identity. You start to minimize that difference in me. And I might play that down a little bit.

But then one day I show up at work with a big ol' Africa medallion on. [laughter] I've grown out the curls to an Afro and— well, I don't need to change my name. It's already very complex. So that's already given. But I no longer allow you to call me Nate. I demand that you call me Nehrwr Abdul-Wahid, which is my name. My name is Nehrwr Abdul-Wahid, but I use Nehrwr for short.

I come into the meetings, and every meeting, I'm talking about how does this impact black people? That's what I want to know. What is the organization doing around the black demographic? That's all I'm concerned about. Do you see what's happening to me developmentally? I'm in that "us" and "them" because my difference is being minimized.

See, in environments of minimization, where we overemphasize commonality— which was almost always dominant culture— when we overemphasize commonality, non-dominant folks, quote unquote "minorities," often show up in an "us" and "them" frame. So then I start looking like not a team player. I start not wanting to go to the social hour because I'm tired. That's a result of minimization.

And I challenge the organization. See, I'm a consultant. I get to say these things. I challenge the organization to actively engage in building its intercultural development to move out of this. It's good for recruitment. It is not good for retention. You are good going out and getting different people. But once they come in, we want them to act the same. And we don't really know how to navigate some of those cultural differences.

So that's the challenge. And let me just tell you, your leadership is actively engaged in this work. A couple of months ago, I came out. There's an assessment that you can take where you can actually measure where people are. I'm not going to get into the details. But I'm saying they took that assessment. And they are actively working on building their own intercultural development. Hopefully, we're going to scale that up at some point, start rolling it across the organization. Little plug. I mean, I've got to slide it in somewhere.

Minimization. Quick video. How much time I got? 15 minutes. Oh, my goodness. [HSBC The world's local bank] Local bank. Umm. Oh, yeah. Umm. Oh, yeah. The English believe it's a slur on your host's food if you don't clear your plate. Whereas the Chinese feel you question their generosity if you do. At HSBC, we never underestimate the importance of local knowledge, which is why we have local banks staffed by local people in over 80 countries across the globe. HSBC, the world's local bank.

You all like my videos, huh? That's a great example of assuming sameness, the assumption of commonality. There's a great quote—I'm sorry. Real quick, before I talk about that. There's a great quote by Dr. Jacqueline Brown. She said, "Commonality should never be assumed. It's either discovered, negotiated or created." It's a very profound quote. "Commonality should never be assumed. It's either discovered, negotiated or created."

This is where we're trying to move, so we're not treating everyone the same or equally. We're treating everyone equitably. It's the shift from the Golden Rule to the Platinum Rule. And some of you may be familiar with that.

We call it the "Inclusion Advantage." The Inclusion Advantage is where an organization that has been building its diversity and working its intercultural development is now creating that environment of inclusivity. And in that environment, now you start to see things like that. People are staying engaged in the organization longer. Because all the research would indicate people do not leave jobs, more often than not, because of money— because of the environment and because of people. Remember that. Remember that.

Less likely to say they've experienced discrimination. So you don't have people going into HR filing grievances. You don't have lawsuits. You don't have people leaving the organization, even if they're physically still in the organization, but have checked out mentally and emotionally. You don't have that. People are engaged. You're getting their best. That's where we're trying to go. In the environment of inclusion, the people count. And that's what we want to do.

A couple more things. This is what we're talking about, sustainability. The future—that's where we want to move. It's the shift from the Golden Rule, which is treat others the way you want to be treated, to the Platinum Rule. Oh, I haven't gotten there yet. I'm sorry. The Platinum Rule—treat others the way they want to be treated. And the only way to do that—hold on. Wait, wait. Let me go back a second. Wait, wait, wait.

When the gears turned, that was a cue for you all to go, whoa. You didn't catch—look at—that is awesome. There you go. This is good animation there. But you notice the intercultural competence is the gear that's actually making the other two go. I'm easily impressed, as you can see.

Look at the formula at the bottom. That's really what I wanted to hang my hat on today. You don't just get diversity and inclusion. It's the diversity plus the intercultural competence. That development of that capacity, building that muscle to shift perspective and behavior. As you build that, that's where you get the inclusion.

Treating others the way they want to be treated. We'll call it the Platinum Rule. How do you know what other people want? There's only four ways. You ask them, you do some research, you observe and you take some risks.

So I'm going to just give you a caveat with each one. When you ask questions, be prepared for two— well, be prepared for a phenomenon. People may not know the answer to your question. Why do you all do such-and-such a thing? I don't know, this is what we do. Oh, I knew that wasn't cultural. It very well is cultural. It just means that I don't know the history and meaning behind that particular cultural practice.

Example. Blank the screen for a second, please. Example. How many of you— and I know you've been doing it today because I was watching you as you were coming in— how many of you use the handshake as a fairly standard form of greeting? Raise your hand. Raise you hand if just generally, you go to a semi-professional— OK, raise your hand. Come on, come on. Raise your hand.

Look around. I want you to look around and see all the hands up, OK? I want you to keep your hand up if you know the history and meaning behind the Western tradition of the handshake. Keep them up. Look. Look around! Look, look around. Look at that! You see, that's culture. You come and you shake my hand. I say, well, why do you want to do that? Is that a cultural thing?

Yes, it is. Well, what does it mean? I don't know. So you can ask all the questions you want. But when you're in your culture, it's like we're fish in water and you don't realize we're wet. It makes sense to us. But we haven't necessarily stepped out of it and examined it and thought about where it came from. That's culture.

It's like the little girl watching her mom. She's making the Thanksgiving dinner. Her mom chops the turkey in half. She said, Mom, why did you chop the turkey in half? She said, well, I saw my mom doing it. Go ask your grandmother. She says, Grandma, I saw my mom chop the turkey in half before she put it in the oven. Why did she do that? She said, I don't know. I always saw my mother doing it. Go ask your great grandmother—very fortunate little girl. She goes and asks great grandma. Great Grandma, I saw my mom chop the turkey in half, put it in the oven. Why did she do that? She said, well baby, when I was growing up, the oven was only but so big.

You could only cook one half of the turkey at a time. [laughter] You all, that's culture. And it just goes, it passes down.

So enlighten us. Who knows? Who remembers where the handshake came from? No weapons. Your check actually was here, and it evolved over time. It's also where you get the expression there's nothing up your sleeve. And it evolved over time. And if you noticed when I was seeing Norman again, I gave him a full pat down. So nice to see you! [laughter] You can do the screen back up.

So the first thing, the person may not know the answer to your question. The second thing, as best you can, try to practice reciprocity. What I mean by that is it is a good thing to be curious. It is a great thing to be curious. But think of your curiosity as you're asking something from someone, OK? And my mother said, don't ever ask for something unless you're giving something. So try to practice reciprocity.

If you want to know something about someone, give them something first. My name's John. My parents named me after my uncle because he was, you know, real close to my mom. Does your name have some history or meaning to it? See how quick and easy that was? I'm originally from the South Side of Chicago. Where are you from originally? Real easy. But we don't do that enough.

And very often, the people who are different, quote unquote "different," not part of the dominant culture, they're getting questions constantly. They may get the same question 30 times in 30 minutes. And then they get to 31.

Here comes Eric, just being curious. Nehrwr—he remembered the workshop. So he said, Nehrwr, uh, my parents named me Eric after my cousin because he helped my mom and drove her to the hospital. Does your name have some history or meaning to it? And I go, why the hell you want to know! Because he doesn't see the 30 other times I got that same question.

Call it the hand-slap phenomenon. You hit that spot long enough, what's going to happen to it? It gets tender. It's a little sore. And someone could just brush up against it, and I'm snapping out. That's real for a lot of people. You have to remember that.

When you're engaged with someone, you're talking to them, it's not just that conversation. It's the other 30 conversations they had. It's all the interactions. It's when they just got pulled over by the police. And now you're talking to them about some political, social issue. Keep those things in mind. Anyway, I'm sorry. I go down these rabbit holes. I was given five extra minutes, and I'm going to use them.

Research. Your research must include sources from within the community you're trying to learn about. You do not study Catholicism just reading books written by Lutherans, OK? Just remember that, for real. You need to be learning from people who are active participants in the culture.

When you observe, remember, there are some things that are wholly appropriate within groups that are not appropriate outside of that group. There are some language and terms that are used within groups that are not appropriate outside of that group. Just accept it. It's just reality of the life that we live. And no community has a monopoly on that phenomenon.

I remember, I was at the ADA conference, Americans with Disabilities Act. They had a conference. They have a conference every year. I was at one a few years ago. I was in the hall with one of my peers who uses a wheelchair. She's yelling to the other end of the wall—other end of the hall— hey, what's up, crip? And there's someone down at the other end, what's up, your crippled self? I said, what is going on? I would never use those words. And she said, Nehrwr, it's the same as your people.

Same phenomenon. There are terms within groups, behaviors within groups, that are wholly appropriate within that group, not appropriate outside of the group. That's just the reality.

Lastly, take some rest. As we build our intercultural development, it does not mean we're going to make fewer mistakes. In fact, quite the contrary. It's likely you're going to make more mistakes. Because you're more comfortable trying things out. And those are learning opportunities. Intercultural development means you're building capacity to take more risks and try things out. Almost done. I may be done on time.

All right, check this out. Whoa! Whoa! Go back, go back, go back! OK, I'm almost done. I'm actually going to be done on time. So I've got one more video. Let me just say a couple things here. Was that video next? Yes, OK. So let me go back. Oh, don't look at it—OK. You all are going to have an opportunity in a little bit to go out here and socialize and mingle. These are critical opportunities to be taken advantage of.

I was just sharing a minute ago about it's fascinating to look at life trajectory. And you can almost always see a series of decisions and opportunities that have presented themselves. And so how I came into this work, just really quickly, how I came into this work. I was working on campus. This was way back in 1992. I was working on campus. I had a campus job at the gym. Go figure.

And it was a part-time job, and we were up for our annual diversity training. And I remember thinking—this is my second year up in Minnesota. I'm fresh. I'm raw out of the South Side. I'm thinking, diversity training—why do I need to go to diversity training? That's for white people. That is not for me. They said, well, it's mandatory. Everybody's got to go. I said, I don't need to go to that. They said, no, everybody's got to go.

I said, all right, I'll go. So I'm sitting in the back with my buddy, cracking jokes the entire time. I was disruptive, having a good time. I was not paying attention. About two weeks later, one of the trainers—they saw me. I was going in the student union, getting in the elevator. I said, I remember you, the guy from the gym. I said, oh, you're the diversity trainer. Really enjoyed your session. They said, oh, we saw you cracking jokes in the back. I said, I'm sorry. I was really having a good time. They said, we've got a job opening up. You should think about applying.

Now just think about that for a minute. They are now recruiting me. Yes? They're recruiting me. And they're recruiting the person who was being disruptive in the session. I said, no, I'm good. I really like working at the gym. They said, well, it pays $8.50 an hour. I was making $6.50 at the gym. I said, well, you know I've always had a passion for diversity. It's always been something that I was really passionate about.

This is a true story. I said this. This is a true story. And I've said this story with the person that hired me once. I was doing a presentation at this school. And she was just looking at me, beaming— the person that I actually had this conversation with. She said, I cannot believe you remember that so clearly. I said, that was such a critical time.

So anyway, the story goes on. I applied for the job, and I got the job. Mind you, some of the people who applied for this job, also students of color. However, unlike me, these were student leaders. Some of them were student activists. Some of them were in student government. The very people you would think they would hire. And they hired me.

So about a month later, we're out to dinner. And I said, why did you all hire me? Because I saw some of the people that you all were interviewing. They said, well, you know, should we tell him? Yeah, we should probably tell him. They were talking to each other—the director and two assistant directors. They said, well, after we answered the question, who could do the basics of the job? This was a research intern, so basically administrative support.

He said, after we answered the question, who could do the basics of the job? We then asked the question, who would challenge us the most? OK, I know I'm a challenging individual. But that's so counter to how we tend to hire people. True or not true? And I've sat on many search committees, many.

And I can tell you, we will be in the meeting, and they will say, I just don't think they'd be a good fit. You know, that says more about us than it does about them. Because in an adaptive, inclusive environment— mindful that the person is emotionally and psychologically healthy— people can be successful. Look, there are some exceptions to this, obviously. Some people you cannot help, right? People will be successful.

And I found—or I shouldn't even say I found— but there were skills that were discovered in me that I didn't know that I had, like facilitating and presenting. That was not my career trajectory. But folks around me created a space where I was able to nurture a skill that I seemed to have, and it got better and better and better. And then before you knew it, I was a training coordinator. I was doing consultations off-campus. And then I left in '03 to do this on my own full time.

That's why an adaptive inclusive environment is so critical. Because that's where you get the best out of folks. With that, I'll leave you now with one more video and then I'm going to wrap it up. Whoa, that's not good. Oh, I don't need this. I'm already late. Somebody will come. Anybody out there? [ Do you have a phone? No. Sorry. Somebody! Hello! There are two people stuck on an escalator and we need help now! Would somebody please do something! Help! I don't believe this. You got to be kidding me. I'm going to cry. Well, there's nothing else left to do, is there? Hello! Hey, don't worry about it. I'll fix it in a second. He said he can fix it. All right. That's more like it. He says he can fix it. Walking down the sidewalk, kicking my feet As I'm moving to the music, step to the beat I woke up today, cancelled all my plans And I stepped right outside

All right. The reality is many of us don't have access to some of the decision making structural processes, the power, if you will, to effect wholesale change. But many, if not all of us, have some access to make some change. And you cannot wait for someone else to do that. You have to do that yourself.

I have to do that myself. Try to meet people halfway. Use the tools that they have, but also use the tools that I have. But taking advantage of these opportunities, taking advantage of these moments.

I'm going to wrap here, but I'm going to ask you all to just do one more thing with me. It will take probably two minutes. I want to have everybody just stand up, grab a partner. Here's the fun part. I want you to stand back-to-back with your partner. Stand back-to-back. What changes about yourself? When you and your partner are ready—do this quickly.

But when you and your partner are ready, I want you to turn around and see if you can figure out the changes you made. If you can, great. If you can't, tell them. Go. Make three changes. Back-to-back. Back-to-back, back-to-back, back-to-back. Five changes, same process. Five changes. Let's go. Five changes. Quick, quick, quick. Back-to-back, back-to-back.

Seven changes. I'm just joking. You can have a seat. Have a seat, have a seat. OK, really quickly, because I'm over my time. Let me just say a couple words really quickly. I promise I'm going to be done in like five minutes. What do you think that activity was about? Uh, I thought I heard something. What did you say?

All right. So most people are saying observation and observing change. And I heard a key word. I actually call this the change activity. Now think about what I asked you to do. I said, make three changes about yourself. How did you interpret that, overall? Physical changes. Again, in this space of diversity and inclusion, we focus a lot on what we can see.

Where does truly transformational change take place? Is it—you already got it. It is not what you see. It's going to be internal. Internal changes. How we think about an issue, how we perceive someone's position on an issue. Our perception. That is going to drive behavioral change. But first and foremost, it's got to be internal.

And I also said, quick. And I don't know if you caught that. I said, quick! Because that's often what we look at. We want to make changes quickly in the organization. We want to go from 2% to 20% in five years. It's not going to happen. It's not going to happen. That is unrealistic. And as quick as folks come in, they will leave.

True transformational change takes place internally. Here's something else that I notice. After the first round, you know what I no— look, this is what happened. I said, stand back-to-back. And you all turned. I said, make three changes. You turn around, and what'd I do? You took off your jacket. What did you notice yourself doing quite naturally without being prompted? Yep. Putting it back.

See, when we get out of our comfort zone, when we actually try to do some things differently, there is this huge force pulling. We can't do that anymore. Let's go back to how we used to do it. It worked so well back then, for who? Really? For who? That's the question.

How many of you were looking around to see what other people did? A couple of you. Yeah, yeah, I can take off— oh, yeah, I can take off a bracelet. You know, you're looking around. Very often, I see folks doing the same thing but it has a profoundly different impact. What's your name? Kathryn? What's your name? Antoisha? I want you both—they both have on glasses.

I want you to take your glasses off for a moment. OK, just hold your glasses up. Very good. Did they do the same thing, yes or no? It's not a trick question, folks. All right, very good. You can put your glasses on. Say your name again. Kathryn. Kathryn?

So Kathryn got her new—those are nice glasses. Kathryn got her glasses last week with her new Southwire superstar bonus. It's a new program they're rolling out in a couple weeks. Big, big, big, big bonus, OK? Antoisha—Antoi—did I say your name right? Antoisha got her glasses from her great grandmother.

And her great grandmother preserved those glasses through a lot of trials and tribulations. In fact, when she gave her the glasses, there was, like, this whole dinner. There was, like, a ceremony. It was a big deal. I'm making this up. But you get my point. They did the same thing, but do you think they experienced it the same way?

Yeah. And this is the danger of looking around to see what other organizations are doing. What challenges and what will transform Southwire is going to have to come from within the walls of the organization. You all are in the best position to see and think about what is going to help propel the organization.

So you have to be advocates. You have to be assertive. You have to connect. And you have to make that happen.

All right. Oh, there we go! I got to do a shameless plug. I wrote a book a few years ago. If you don't want to buy it, that's fine. But it's an awesome book. It's called "The PIOOYA Principles." I don't want to say publicly what the PIOOYA stands for. But if you catch me at the mixer, I'll tell you. All right, thank you all.

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Duration: 30 minutes and 22 seconds
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Language: English
License: All rights reserved
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Posted by: southwire on Jun 13, 2018

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