Women and LGBT in the Military

Women in MilitaryIt’s been known that minorities such as women and the LGBT community have not always been welcomed with open arms into the military. In recent history, there has been a stigma surrounding these groups joining the military and fighting for the United States.  According to The Atlantic, women were not allowed to “serve in all front-line combat roles for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Special Operations Command” until just two years ago.  And the LGBT community had their own obstacles, first to be allowed to serve in the military, and then the creation of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) from 1993-2011, which created controversy and hardship for those affected.

However, it seems as though things are looking up for these two groups serving in the military. Below are two examples of how dignity and respect are portrayed by government officials and outstanding military women that are breaking barriers for our minorities.

Women in the Military

In the past two years, women have been making history and breaking glass ceilings in the military special forces. According to Defense One, “the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment has become the first special operations unit to have a woman meet the standards of its selection course.”

In fact, not one, but two women graduated from Army Ranger school in December 2016. This is extremely significant because Army Ranger school is the most grueling, both mentally and physically, training course in the Army. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Defense One’s Council on Foreign Relations, explains Ranger school is an “intense combat leadership course through swamps and mountains.”  

This achievement is also momentous because it is the first time a woman “earned a spot in the special operations forces.”  Although not every job in the military is opened to women yet, women have been making a difference in the forces for years. Lemmon explained that  “women soldiers joined Rangers on night raids, and searched and questioned Afghan women during raids to keep the women away from the combat operation then happening in their home.”

Although the process of merging women into the military and recently the special operation forces has been a long one, Lemmon said “women soldiers have proved their value to the mission and won acceptance as teammates as time went on.”

General James Mattis Testimony

Another example of how a person or persons has shown dignity and respect in regards to integrating women and LGBT in the military is General James Mattis’s testimony at his confirmation hearing for Defense Secretary. Senator Elizabeth Gilliland asked him whether he believed LGBT people “undermined the military’s lethality” and Mattis responded by saying he wasn’t “concerned about two consenting adults and who they go to bed with.” Mattis continued by saying “my concern is the readiness of the force to fight and make certain it is the top of the game. When we go up against the enemy, the criteria that everything that we do in the military, up to that point, when we put the young men and women across the line of departure, is they are at the most lethal stance.”

This surprised many, including Senator Gilliland and Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, who was elated to have heard Mattis’s answer. “When General Mattis agreed that women and LGBT troops can contribute to the military’s lethality, he was supporting the long-standing argument, backed up by a solid consensus in the research as well as the experiences of foreign militaries, that inclusive policy promotes readiness,” Belkin stated.

It’s encouraging to hear General Mattis’s respond with statements about LGBT in the military, in an environment that has, in the past, ignored or rejected gay rights issues.

To learn more about how your organization can implement dignity and respect on issues such as minority rights, check out our website and initiatives.

 

Lead The Way: Bombas

Socks

At D&R, we’re always on the lookout for organizations and companies that demonstrate dignity and respect by giving back in some way, shape, or form. Companies that Lead the Way hold to best practices that not only work for the greater good, but serve as models for the next best practice for every workplace. 

That brings us to Bombas. Bombas is a sock company, but stating it’s just a sock company doesn’t quite do their cause justice.  For every pair of socks they sell, Bombas donates a pair to a homeless shelter or someone in need. However, they do not just donate the same socks that are sold the consumers. They’ve gone a step ahead and, together with their 300-plus giving partners, created a sock that  according to their website, “specifically meets the needs of people who don’t have the luxury of a clean pair of socks every day.” This includes design elements such as “anti-microbial treatment, darker colors to reduce the look of stains, and stronger seams for longer lifespan.”

According to the Bombas website, the creators, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, began this journey all because of one quote, that changed their entire perspective:  “Socks are the number one most requested clothing item at homeless shelters.” So that’s when they realized they could really make an impact by doing some great: “We initially thought about [just] buying and donating socks, but we felt like that wasn’t enough, the problem was much bigger than that.”

Bombas original goal was to donate 1 million pairs of socks in ten years, but in only two and half years, they were able to reach that goal. Bombas also provided donations towards HIV medication for purchases of their “(Product)Red” socks over the holidays.

These numbers serve as an exciting reminder that helping others is an interest all of us – companies and consumers alike – can get behind.  Even the meaning behind their name is cohesive with our Lead the Way Initiative: The word “bombas” derives from the Latin word “bumblebee.” As Bombas website explains, “bees work together to make their hive a better place…they’re small, but their combined efforts have a big impact on the world.”

This is what leading the way is all about. Whether your company’s efforts are big or small, you are making a positive impact on the world, and that is what matters.

At D&R, we believe there are three key ways to Lead The Way:

  • Make an effort to make someone feel included.
  • Get a new viewpoint before completing a project.
  • Do something that benefits someone different from you.

Bombas was able to research, think, and, in turn, get a brand new perspective on people in need of a basic item before starting Bombas. They continue to make an effort every single day to focus their conversation and their product on addressing their basic needs of all people.

How is your business leading the way? If you’re interested in taking your company to the next level, or you know a local organization who is leading the way for others, contact us. We’d love to have a conversation.

 

Build Your Organization, Find Your Opera Singers

Opera Singer Ryan Speedo Green in interview.

As a young black man growing up poor in southeastern Virginia, Ryan Speedo Green believed that opera was “something only a white person could do.” (Think the singing viking lady shattering windows with her piercing high C.)

Now Ryan is an opera singer for the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

After spending time in juvenile detention as a young teenager, including time in solitary confinement, Ryan returned to school and took “easy electives” – football, choir, and Latin club. What at first were excuses to slide easily through school and into a football career soon became the seeds to a different passion. In a recent interview (starts at 15:45) on The Daily Show, Ryan recounts his first visit to the Metropolitan stage, at age fifteen, where he saw African-American opera singer Denyce Graves perform in Carmen. From that day forward, Ryan knew he wanted to – and could – sing opera.

Representation Has Impact

Of course, it’s possible that Ryan would still have become an opera singer without ever witnessing that performance by Denyse Graves. But he describes the power of that moment above: “the thing that made [seeing my first opera] so monumental to me – which changed my life – was that the person singing the lead role, the title role, was an [African-American singer]. And when I left the opera house that day, I told my voice teacher I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I want to sing at the Met.”

What You Can Do

Maybe opera isn’t really your thing. As a leader or influential member in your organization, however, helping grow a world where all of us have the same opportunities may be!

We’ve written a lot on both building cultural awareness and leading the way, including representation in the workplace and in our media. Ryan’s story is another sign that the work, art, and efforts of our leaders – of ALL races, faiths, orientations, persuasions, and abilities – have a positive impact on the diverse world we are striving to build. Hard work and talent are not exclusive to any one group, and each one of us has a fairer shot at success when the organizations we build and influence are true examples of that diversity.

Start with Your Organization

If you build the place where every opera singer, viking lady or otherwise, understands they have a fair shot at their dream, they will come! Building that world and celebrating our differences is what the Dignity & Respect Campaign helps organizations and leaders do every day. Not sure exactly how to get started? Many organizations begin their journey with a D&R Toolkit, which provides everything you need to launch your own internal campaign. Learn more about D&R Solutions by contacting us today!

Build Cultural Awareness: Standing with Standing Rock – It’s Not Over Yet

Standing Rock 1 by Rick Danielson on Flickr

So much is happening these days that important causes come and go, or pass through our radar, as if they’re mere trends. It may seem like ages ago that #NODAPL was all over our news feeds – but it was just a few weeks ago that people were pledging their support for the Native American water protectors at Standing Rock, making calls to North Dakota representatives, and sending supplies to the protesters, who held their ground even in brutal conditions.

On December 4, the Army Corps of Engineers made the decision to deny a permit for further construction on the 1,172-mile oil pipeline, which is hailed as a victory. In a statement, the National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby said “Our prayers have been answered.” Importantly, he also said: “This isn’t over.”

The Fight Continues

It’s relatively well-known that this particular pipeline was originally set to run through Bismarck, but was swiftly re-routed due to concerns that the pipeline could compromise the city’s drinking water. Standing Rock has been fighting for their dignity, their rights, and even their safety ever since. What is wrong with this picture?

Understanding the #NoDAPL fight is crucial for all of us, whether we’re in North Dakota, Pennsylvania, or California not only because we’re sincere in our intentions to protect the rights and safety of our fellow Americans, but because these pipelines affect ALL of us. There are about 2.6 million miles of pipeline in the United States, and since 2010, there have been 4,269 incidents, including 474 injuries.

Support Corporate Responsibility in 2017

Questions abound as a new administration takes Washington, and what is to become of the Dakota Access Pipeline is no exception. It will be as important as ever, in 2017, to stay attuned to the facts. Despite the Army Corps’ decision to deny the pipeline permit, the oil company can technically disobey the order, pay the fines, and continue their build.

As leaders in any business, industry, and location, we have decisions to make about the type of world we want to help build through our work and our affairs. There are questions of environmental responsibility, integrity, dignity and respect. Each day we have the choice to build that better world, or maintain a status quo that so often fails those who aren’t in power.

Do Your Part: How You Can Help Standing Rock

Protesters remain on-site at Standing Rock in Cannonball, ND, where the temperature is consistently in the 30s or well below. Many people are sending medical resources and supplies to keep conditions safe for those remaining. But the tribe is now facing new legislation from the state that essentially criminalizes aspects of protest at Standing Rock, with little to no communication or consultation with those involved.

If you’d like to support Standing Rock’s on-the-ground legal team, you can donate here. To keep the protesters well-fed, you can donate here. If you’d like to discover more ways to discuss the Standing Rock protests with your organization and learn how corporate responsibility stems from the basic tenets of dignity and respect, we’d love to help. Contact us at 1-855-222-8211 today. 

Uber’s Capabilities for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Partners

Chances are you’ve summoned a ride using Uber by now, or you know someone who has. A regular user or driver is likely to notice frequent updates to the app – in their own words, the transportation network company is “always working to make the Uber experience as hassle-free as possible for our riders and driver-partners.”

Besides setting a fleet of driverless cars out onto the streets of Pittsburgh (we’re growing to trust them!), Uber appears to live up to its statement with the inclusion of accessibility features.

Hard of Hearing? No Problem for Uber.

There’s a feature for that. How does it work? From Uber’s website: “The Uber Partner app includes capabilities for deaf and hard of hearing partners. These features are all completely optional.”

Uber partners who are deaf or hard of hearing need only make the setting active, which prompts their app to:

  • Turn off calling and use text-only messaging. “The ability to call a deaf or hard of hearing driver-partner is turned off for the rider – instead, riders are directed to text their driver if they need to communicate with them.”
  • Flashing trip request notifications. “The Uber Partner app signals a new trip request with a flashing light in addition to the existing audio notification.”
  • Add a prompt for the rider’s destination. “Once a partner with this setting turned on accepts a ride, the rider will see a prominent screen asking for their destination.”
  • Show a message to let riders know the driver is deaf or hard of hearing.

Lead The Way

Widely-known companies that provide features like this pave the way for inclusion in our workplaces, our tech, and even our social interactions. Where it could have been easy for Uber to just encourage diverse hiring, they identified an opportunity to actively welcome capable drivers who are hard of hearing by ensuring their experience, and the experience of those drivers’ riders, is the best it can be.

This is what the Dignity & Respect Campaign’s Lead the Way initiative is truly about: recognizing and promoting our companies, institutions, communities and apps! who support the potential of ALL and treat others with dignity and respect.

You don’t have to be Uber to make a difference. Dignity and respect can start anywhere, big or small. How can your organization can help to make the world a better place?

Learn more this Uber accessibility feature here.

 

Bridging the Gaps in a Cross-Cultural Conversation

Having a Conversation

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who later revealed that their experience of that conversation was totally different than yours?

Maybe you entered a meeting with a new employee. Thinking that starting the meeting with small talk might seem unprofessional, you got straight into describing a new project and assigning tasks. Your employee, accustomed to a more casual conference approach, mistook your straightforwardness as dislike toward him. Once he got to know you, he discovered this wasn’t your intention at all.

This isn’t uncommon. We sometimes attribute a mismatch in communication to a gender, age, or social differences. When differences in culture enter the picture, however, having a conversation can be even more complex, and the consequences of a misunderstanding harder to ease.

The “Right Way” to Converse

At the same time as we focus on what brings us together, it’s important to talk to someone from a different culture knowing a little bit about how they may understand the conversation differently than you.

Let’s look at what is typical in a few countries. In the US, conversations are typically viewed as an opportunity to exchange information. But in Mexico, the foremost goal of a conversation is, commonly, to build the relationship between talking partners.

A professional interaction in Germany is one that leaves no room for misinterpretation. The Japanese use subtlety, general statements, and broader references in a polite exchange on a sensitive topic.

What’s in a Difficult Conversation?

These “communication trip wires” — the ways social norms surrounding difficult conversations vary from culture to culture — are organized into four categories in “Having a Difficult Conversation with Someone from a Different Culture” by Melissa Hahn and Andy Molinsky:

  • Getting Down to Business vs. Relationship Building: what is the primary goal of a conversation?
  • Direct vs. Indirect Communication: how is sensitive information most respectfully communicated to someone else?
  • Low vs. High Context: do the environment and social differences between conversation partners impact the way a message is interpreted?
  • Informality vs. Formality: does emphasizing casualness of a meeting diffuse tension, or some across as incompetence or unpreparedness?

Hahn and Molinsky go on to describe these differences in useful detail. “When you think of it this way, having a difficult conversation with someone from another culture can appear perilous — and it can be. So, what can you do about it?”

Enjoy the rest of their insight and discussion here: Read More

Do Your Part

Our Build Cultural Awareness Initiative provides opportunities to learn about other cultures, faiths, and people of different backgrounds. Get started doing your part today:

  • Check out more of our posts about Building Cultural Awareness. Read, watch, and learn about the #BuildCulturalAwareness topic.
  • Engage your family, friends, and colleagues in meaningful conversations. Ask someone else to join the discussion so you can make new friends and learn from their experiences.
  • Share your ideas, photos, related stories, and facts about your culture or something you’ve learned about another.

Building Cultural Awareness: Makeup Artist Uses Her Hijab to Perfect Her Looks

queen of luna makeup art hijab art

We know Halloween is over! But in the spirit of the festive season, we’re highlighting a professional makeup artist and social media maven who goes by the name Queen of Luna. With over 360,000 followers on Instagram and counting, Sarawati can transform herself into just about any character you can imagine – and she uses her hijab to complete each look. Check out a few of her masterpieces.

Queen of Luna's Esmeralda makeup and hijab art

Why Are We Sharing Cool Makeup Art?

While great strides have been made for women in the workplace, Muslim women are one group still struggling to obtain and maintain visibility in the professional world. As this article in Fast Company astutely puts it, “The paradox of wearing the veil in the U.S. is that there’s nowhere to hide; it takes courage to stand out.” Speaking on creativity, another young woman explains her decision to observe hijab: “By choosing hijab, I display who I am. But I choose to emphasize other aspects of myself that form my identity: my character, intellect, quirky personality, and illusory hopes and dreams — my inner-existence.”

Queen of Luna: Adventure Time Makeup and Hijab ArtNot only does representation matter in our communities, our politics, and our media — it matters in our workplaces. When each of us, no matter our gender, ethnicity, religion, or lifestyle, can see an image and example of ourselves in another person, we are building a world open to the innovation and diverse creativity that is so crucial to long-term organizational success. Queen of Luna’s makeup art is not only impressive, it plays an important role in the way we understand our differences — and the talents, interests, and skills that make our society and our organizations stronger.

Do Your Part

At Dignity & Respect Campaign, we focus on celebrating and building on ALL of our differences. Finding common ground by bringing our talents and mutual interests together, while embracing what makes us unique, not only makes for a better world, but a more creative, collaborative, and successful one. You can find more Queen of Luna makeup art on Facebook, Instagram, and around the Internet. Do your part to build cultural awareness (and awareness of really cool makeup art)!

All images belong to Queen of Luna.

Do Your Part: Domestic Violence Awareness

Domestic Violence Awareness RibbonDomestic violence is a problem, and it isn’t a private matter. In the United States, an average of 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner. That’s over 12 million women and men per year.

Domestic Violence Doesn’t Stay at Home

Why does this matter in the workplace? The damage caused by domestic violence (also called intimate partner violence) isn’t something that stays at home, even if that’s where the violence typically occurs. Domestic violence isn’t only horrific — it’s costly. According to the CDC, severe intimate partner violence causes victims to lose a total of 8 million days of paid work per year — equal to over 32,000 full-time jobs — and almost 5.6 million days of household productivity. Increased healthcare costs for victims can persist for 15 years after escaping abuse.

In many cases, employers, managers, and co-workers are reluctant to approach employees who may be victims of intimate partner abuse because they feel it is a private matter. Unfortunately, this aura of secrecy around domestic violence actually feeds right into the effects of isolation that perpetrators create around their partner.

Respect is the Answer—At Home and At Work

Everyone believes they should be treated with respect. Intimate partner violence is a complicated issue, but lack of, or warped sense of, dignity and respect play a part in this deeply unfortunate problem.

Taking the step to address domestic violence requires us to believe that every person is fundamentally worthy of their humanity, personhood, and safety. As a leader or fellow employee, you do not necessarily need to have the answers—just the willingness to talk through options, help find resources, make phone calls on the victim’s behalf, and provide an empathetic presence.

Whatever our role, each of us can take the first step of treating others with the respect they deserve—at home, in our workplaces, and in our communities.

  • CHAMPION violence prevention by turning your words into good deeds.  Get involved!
  • ADVOCATE for violence prevention.  Learn the facts and speak up!
  • DONATE your time, money, or goods to the cause of violence prevention.  Volunteer, attend, or support national or local efforts.  Make it count!

Do Your Part

For more information and statistics on domestic violence, consider downloading our printable fact sheet. Store the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) in your phone and download the RUSafe app to help users identify potentially dangerous situations and hotlines in your area. We can all do our part to Stop the Violence — change happens when ALL of us spread awareness and stay prepared to help each other. Dignity and respect can make all the difference, and it starts with you.

 

Election 2016: Demonstrating Mutual Respect in a Disagreement

demonstrating mutual respect in tough political conversation

We’re quickly approaching Election Day 2016. While months of news coverage and debate are behind us, we’re likely still feeling the effects of a highly polarized political climate. This election cycle has caused a particularly tangible rift between people, even between friends and family who don’t typically disagree with each other. Many of us have been active participants in online and in-person conversations about the candidates, their policies, and their scandals. Many of these conversations are likely to have been intense, even heated. Many are rife with misunderstanding.

The Politics of Conversation

When emotions run high and even widespread viewpoints are so mismatched, it can seem impossible to find common ground. To top it all, fact becomes difficult to discern from fiction. Truths and untruths alike are coming at us from all directions, including our media.

This kind of political climate makes a few questions especially relevant, even urgent:

  • Do I have to respect the views of someone I disagree with?
  • Do I have to respect that person despite their views, some of which I find harmful or false?
  • Is it right to agree to disagree?
  • When is it time to talk, and time to walk away?

Navigating Tough Discussions

We aren’t always going to agree with each other. In fact, it’s pretty realistic to say that, quite often, we won’t. Conflict is a part of life. What we want to avoid is unproductive conflict. In the heat of an argument, we oftentimes become so wrapped up in the point we’re trying to make that we don’t take a moment to, first, listen to ourselves, and second, understand where someone else is coming from.

That misunderstanding gets us nowhere. The way we can start to make progress is by building personal awareness, and encouraging others to do the same.

The first 2 of our 7 Pillars of Dignity & Respect provide a platform to begin:

  • START WITH YOU. Understand how you see yourself, how others see you, and how your filters guide you and influence your behavior.
  • SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF. Understand the concepts of intent vs. impact. Become mindful of how you respond to others and be responsible for your words and actions.

Our differences shouldn’t tear us apart. Making the effort to become more aware can put us in a better position to understand each other, and it builds our ability to argue intelligently and effectively.

When Views Cause Harm

When someone’s viewpoint is harmful to others, it’s up to you to decide whether to make that person aware of the harm. However well-intentioned we are, remember that we don’t often get anywhere when we try to force our ideas on someone who doesn’t want to hear them.

We don’t have to agree to disagree with someone who is spreading harmful views. We do, however, need to build up the respect, awareness, and tools that can overcome those views. Taking time to understand where someone is coming from and seeking out what you have in common is a place to start. Providing resources, rather than telling someone you think they’re wrong, can go far. The smarter we fight, the better we become.

Demonstrate Mutual Respect (Although It’s Hard)

When we take steps to understand each other, the results might not be immediate. In the meantime, it can be difficult to be respectful. It’s even harder when the person we’re talking with doesn’t respect our views – or us.

Tip #9 of our 30 Tips is this: Demonstrate Mutual Respect. While we can’t force someone to respect us, we can lead by example. Each person is fundamentally worthy of respect and dignity. Someone you disagree with, who holds beliefs or viewpoints that are different than yours, is still someone.

We encourage you to download the 30 Tips of Dignity and Respect and learn about the 7 Pillars, which can be incorporated into smarter, more effective discussions about Election 2016 and beyond. If you want to use your organization or workplace to make the world a better place for ALL of us, with ALL of our differences, contact us for information on our workshops and speaking engagements!

 

Are You Registered to Vote?

Vote America, Register to VoteWe have a number of initiatives here at the Dignity & Respect Campaign to Build Cultural Awareness, Stop the Violence, Prevent Bullying, and Lead the Way – but it’s October 2016, and one of our initiatives works singlehandedly to push all the others forward: the one where we encourage you to get out and Vote!

How to Register to Vote

First things first: October 11, 2016 is the last day to register to vote in the November 8th election. That means you can register ON October 11, too, so don’t panic!

If you’re not registered or you’re not sure if you are, you can visit vote.gov to find out and complete your registration online, if allowed by your state (Pennsylvania, where D&R Campaign is based, does allow online registration). USA.gov provides a list of requirements, instructions for in-person registration, mail application, and other options and information. Each state has its own voting rules and requirements, so be sure you’re correctly informed for your state.

Does it take a long time to register? That’s a common myth. With all the necessary credentials, you can often be approved and officially registered within about a week, and the majority of the work is the government’s, not yours.

Exercise Your Privilege!

While all U.S. citizens (with a few exceptions) are granted the right to vote, it should still be viewed as a privilege. Many minority men, and women of ALL ethnicities are still only one generation removed from having no voice. We must remember the sacrifices of our ancestors and take very seriously this privilege they fought so hard for us to have.

Resources for Citizens and Leaders

In collaboration with Diversity & Inclusion, we’ve created the “I Vote Because…” campaign. Download the flyer here to learn how you can spread the word and get out the vote. The message is this: we all represent different organizations, different parties, and different perspectives, but what we have in common is respect for differences and a commitment to get out the vote. Collectively we have a stronger voice. With ONE VOICE, we encourage you to cast ONE VOTE.

As a leader, no matter where you stand politically, you can make it known that voting is a privilege, a duty, and an action that COUNTS. If anyone needs convincing, Wikipedia has a great page on close election results.

And what can we all do? We can promote dignity and respect by using the facts and standing up and speaking out. Volunteer, attend, or support national and/or local efforts. Tell others how you did your part. Encourage others to join your efforts.  And to get that all started – make sure you’re registered to vote on November 8th!