Posts Tagged ‘diversity and inclusion’

Three key lessons from a diversity mishap

Photo courtesy of Fernan Balsalubre

Recently my friend and fellow adult figure skater Fernan Balsalubre provided the following disturbing account on his Facebook Page:

“It’s such a small thing nowadays, but the AM/PM (convenience store / gas station prevalent in Southern California) attendant told a gentleman in front of me to “Speak English” three times. I can’t believe this is how we greet people now!

The customer did not speak English. He was pointing at the glass display on the counter at some lottery scratchers, and saying “Two,” while handing money over. Brian, the gas station attendant, asked, “Do you want two of those?” The customer nodded his head. Brian then proceeded to say “Speak English” three times, each time getting louder and slower. The customer paid and left. He looked so embarrassed. I took his photo (yes, from the safety of the energy bar counter) and drove to Chevron.

This gas station is the closest to my dad’s stroke rehabilitation facility, so I have encountered this guy before. He’s not the nicest person. His customer service skills could use some brushing up.”

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Fernan took the time to provide this information to AM/PM headquarters and got no reply. Meanwhile several dozen people saw and commented on this account.

Perhaps the customer did not speak English. Maybe he was deaf and mute. Maybe he recently had a stroke which left his speaking ability partially incapacitated. It does not matter – this interaction is totally disrespectful and highlights three important lessons from this diversity misstep.

1) In today’s world of quickly proliferating social media, diversity mishaps can be frequently and quickly captured, and spread like wildfire. We see more and more capturing of public missteps in dealing with others via cellphones and quickly posted on various social media. It can be a matter of 30 minutes where soon millions of people are aware of some awful occurrence by a company’s or organization’s personnel.

2) All employees, not just managers and executives, need diversity and inclusion training. So many companies believe that diversity and inclusion can be addressed simply via management training. But in reality, it is often the lower-wage, non-management employees that are on the front line interacting with customers and clients.

In my blog “The Three Components of Diversity and Inclusion Training,” I wrote, “It is important that all employees within an enterprise receive diversity and inclusion training. Co-workers are most often the frequent cause of employees not feeling welcomed and becoming unhappy at work, and most often it is the non-management employees on the front lines who interact with your diverse customers.”

3) When diversity missteps occur, corporate leadership must be extremely quick to react. So often these diversity errors get captured and communicated to corporate leaders and then the matter is dropped and the person who reported the incident never contacted. Organizations, especially those with public expression for the diversity and inclusion commitments need to back up these statements with real action.

Diversity and inclusion is increasingly becoming a key strategic initiative for organizations to succeed, and mishaps in this area can so quickly undo years of hard work. Be vigilant and diligent! And thank you, Fernan, for speaking out and taking action in this situation.

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Footnote: I could not find any diversity and inclusion statements on the AM/PM corporate website, but parent company BP has a very visible and robust diversity and inclusion business strategy.

Happy New Year!! My top seven blogs of 2016

My fifth most popular blog told the inspirational story of young figure skater Eric Sjoberg

My fifth most popular blog told the inspirational story of young figure skater Eric Sjoberg

This is now becoming an annual tradition – looking at my website statistics for the past entire year and listing my top seven most read blogs as a New Year feature. I normally blog about my two areas of consulting a few times each month: Diversity with a specialization in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) workplace and marketplace; and career and skills development based on my innovative Total Engagement Career Mapping process. And once in a while I throw in a more personal blog or rant about something that is irking me.

In 2016, six of my seven most read blogs dealt with some sort of diversity topic, while one featured a young teen who demonstrated what determination and leadership is really about.

Here are the “Top 7 of 2016” in reverse order:

7. The seventh most read blog, “North Carolina’s HB2 – don’t boycott us, Cyndi Lauper-ize us!” was published in June as a result of multiple boycotts because of North Carolina’s repressive anti-LGBT HB2 legislation. Though I respect performers’ decisions to boycott NC over HB2, what Cyndi Lauper did was so much more profound and impactful.

6. From March, “Why do we all need someone to hate on? … and now in North Carolina, it’s transgender people.” After so much had been written locally and nationally about the “anti-LGBT / transgender restroom” bill HB2 that had just passed in North Carolina, I decided to blog about the larger systemic societal and political issue that led to this, the fact that it seem society always needs some group to demonize.

5. My fifth most popular blog featured a young teen with great determination. In “Lessons from a Young Teen,” I ask how my readers would you handle going from second place to second from the bottom in one year in a sports competition. This inspirational short piece shares how a young figure skating athlete handled this challenge.

My fourth most popular blog was guest written by Elsa Maria Jimenez Salgado (here pictured with her husband Richard Horvath), part time bilingual consultant on my team

My fourth most popular blog was guest written by Elsa Maria Jimenez Salgado (here pictured with her husband Richard Horvath), part time bilingual consultant on my team

4. This blog, “Seven Misconceptions or Stereotypes of Hispanic People” was a guest piece written by my part-time bilingual consultant on staff, Elsa Maria Jimenez Salgado.

3. In “Diversity and Straight White Men – Four Key Thoughts,”I address the issue that, so often, straight white men may feel left out, marginalized or even “the problem” within diversity and inclusion discussions. I offer four constructive points for discussion and consideration in this blog.

2. My second most read blog of the year was a personal labor of love which included several personal photos that I took, “Seven Fabulous Out Gay Men of Figure Skating.”

1. And finally, the top most read blog for the third year in a row was actually published way back in 2011! As many people search for online resources about diversity training, they found and read my 2011 blog “Three Components of Diversity Training,” where I discuss three major components required for diversity training and exactly who within an enterprise should be trained. I have also updated that blog to include links to more resources including to a blog sharing a sample outline of diversity and inclusion training contents.

Thanks to all the readers who enjoy and share my blogs. In 2017, if you want to be notified each time I do publish, you can like my business facebook page (Link), or if you subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter, I include a short summary and links to the past month’s writings.

Wishing all my readers a wonderful 2017 filled with much contentment and success!

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