Friday, September 12, 2008

Diversity: The Real Deal

If you haven't figured it out by now, Darden is known for interactive thought provoking learning and that is what today was about. We worked together to recognize and attempt to breakdown our biases, stereotypes and prejudices of those around us. CSW Global works with companies (and top business schools) around the world through theatrical presentation to challenge the way we think about diversity. When you're in an MBA program of vast diversity, you almost fail to recognize these difficulties. Gender, race, sexual orientation and socioeconomic class are just a few topics that were touched today. Being at Darden, we all have a common experience and thus, I think it's easier to empathize, but when you're at work, what then?

When the boys are going to play golf and a female associate is excluded, what are the implications? Is this simply inclusion/exclusion? What's the best way to make the situation "fair"? Is the premise as to whether or not work will be "conducted" a reason to invite everyone?

A top performing candidate of color does not receive a promotion because of fit. Is it racial bias? Are we projecting our own self abrasions on the circumstance? Is it too much to ask the managing committee as to what fit means? Why do we tiptoe around these issues instead of addressing them. It's a fact that most lawsuits on discrimination are filed because someone DIDN'T say anything.

A teammate's sexual orientation is homosexual. Should the other members on the team be briefed to avoid potential conflict? Or do you let the teammate decide when and to whom it is appropriate to disclose this information?

A person from a different culture who speaks English as a second language has problems communicating with you. Do you say huh three times and turn away? Or do you engage and settle on the understanding that you both have your own difficulties interacting, but will try to continue building a relationship anyhow? What if this person is a co-worker? More importantly, what if this person is a client? In the back of your mind do you think these people should simply return to their native countries where they understand the native tongue? Or is that NOT being part of this global world?

Finally, a student is perceived to be wealthy when in fact, their schedule is packed with a balance of school and work to simply survive. What sort of socioeconomic implications are there? To continue, what if this person is in fact wealthy, should we treat them differently because they can afford things?

The thoughts and implications of these statements and questions are endless. There are no "right" answers. As we discussed these scenarios in class, everyone had their own opinions based on the perceived abrasiveness, controlling and passive acts of the characters. I think the only conclusion that most of us agreed upon was trying to put effort into people. Understand where they're coming from, what they're about and don't be afraid to ask the hard questions.

1 comment:

tinydancer said...

Sounds like you had the same session we did at Wharton. Very thought provoking. I was surprised at how many people thought these weren't "real" issues in the workplace. I personally have witnessed several of them.
Thanks for the comment BTW - Wharton is great! I have never been this busy in my life ...