Category: Build Cultural Awareness
Women and LGBT in the Military
It’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.
Build Your Organization, Find Your Opera Singers
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
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.
Bridging the Gaps in a Cross-Cultural 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
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.
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.”
Not 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.
Starbucks’ Dancing Barista
Sam, an Autistic Teen from Toronto thought his movement disorder would prevent him from ever being a barista. After landing a job at Starbucks, Sam’s manager Chris Ali realized his movements could be channeled into playful dancing. This led to a viral video of Sam being taken, an appearance on the Ellen show, and a big self-esteem boost for a wonderful young man.
“Sam has a such a big heart and he’s made me a better person” -Chris Ali, Sam’s manager
Removing Barriers: An Interview with Writer Alison Taverna
For the month of June, the Dignity & Respect Campaign has focused one of our initiatives on LGBT teenagers. We’ve developed both reading lists and discussion guides in order to better understand how we as a community can reduce bullying and make the world a better place for this population to live in.
However, our nation was recently shaken by the devastating tragedy in Orlando – a shooting that killed nearly 50 individuals in a gay nightclub. In the wake of such an occurrence, it’s easy to be met with a range of emotions. All across social media, people from varying backgrounds are posting and sharing their diverse beliefs and feelings about the matter – everything from stances on Islamophobia to the ever-controversial matter of gun control.
But regardless of the issues that have arisen from this event, one thing is very clear: now, more than ever, we as a country need to focus on how to treat one another with dignity and respect. We need to remember that our differences are only barriers if we allow them to be.
So in the spirit of removing barriers, we feel that one of the best ways we as a campaign can honor the victims of Orlando and the LGBT community as a whole is to continue talking about it. We recently interviewed Alison Taverna, a young, up-and-coming writer who is a member of the LGBT community and writes frequently on the topic. Taverna is from Massachusetts and was gracious enough to talk to D&R about her experiences as a teenager and coming to terms with her identity:
D&R: What was it like growing up as an LGBT teen? What were some of your struggles?
AT: I never considered myself an LGBT teen. I didn’t come out until I turned 19 and was attending an all-women’s liberal arts college in a city far away from my own. I grew up in a small farm town about forty minutes west of Boston; the Charles River trickled through the back woods, and that was about the extent of any real movement I ever saw. I didn’t identify as gay because I didn’t have the space to, but the real problem was I didn’t know I didn’t have the space to. The summer before my junior year of high school, I traveled to D.C. for a ten-day leadership conference. It was the first time I had ever been on my own. My roommate came from Texas and brought with her a stuffed animal. I remember teasing her about it, asking, “Did your boyfriend give that to you?” over and over until finally she said, “No, my girlfriend did.” That was the moment I realized I was perpetuating this assumption of a heteronormative life that, if I was being honest, wasn’t something I even believed in. After that summer I really started being skeptical of what I thought and who was making me think that way.
D&R: Did you have any role models during the time? Who and why?
AT: I wrote letters to that same D.C. roommate for over a year after we went back to our respective towns across the country. We never talked about my sexuality outright, but we talked about hers and I was quick to ask questions about her girlfriends, the hard conversations she had with her mother, and gay pop culture. Looking back now, those letters are what got me here. I never saw her as an LGBT role model; I saw her as a [fellow] kid struggling to grow up. But at the same time, I knew she was free in a way I wasn’t. And in her I saw a life where I could be open and my friends didn’t become afraid of me, my parents would still keep me, and I’d be able to be a bold voice in a community I cared about.
D&R: What resources could have benefited you as an LGBT teen?
AT: Any type of public immersion into the LGBT culture. I would have loved to see some LGBT writers or artists come into our school to lead workshops, do readings, or have a conversation. I remember sitting in dark auditoriums where people talked at us from a stage about drunk driving and drugs. But what would have happened if we turned on the lights? If we sat facing each other? I needed successful, unapologetic, talented members of the LGBT community in the classroom. I needed teachers who taught about the worldwide persecution of human beings because of their sexual and gender orientation. We needed a Gay-Straight Alliance, a gender neutral bathroom, a higher level of policing those students who spat insanely ignorant comments based in hate.
D&R: What do you wish someone would have told you growing up?
AT: I wish someone would have told me being “other” can be a gift. I have to fight every day to continue being a person many people, often openly, reject. I think when you fight for who you are that ruthlessly you validate your life. And at the root of that validation has to be the idea that breathes you are worth it. I spend most of my days standing in front of a classroom, a classroom that looks almost identical to the ones I sat in when I was 16, and I know what I represent now. I know what people think when they look at me. I’m at a place in my life where it feels like the most important thing I can do is to keep standing there. Without shame. Because I know so many people didn’t and won’t get that opportunity. And man, I wish someone would have told me how beautiful my skin could feel standing like that.
For more information on Alison Taverna’s latest book of poems, please click here. And to learn how your organization can take active steps to better include and interact with the LGBT community, contact our Campaign Manager to learn what D&R can do for you.
Build Cultural Awareness. LGBT High School Students
Our teen years are some of the most emotionally vulnerable for most of us. A December 2013 article in Psychology Today states that scientists are just beginning to better understand the dramatic shifts that occur in a teen’s brain during adolescence. It’s not just their brains, but also changes in their bodies and minds that teens must navigate. Between 4% and 10% of teens are experiencing these transformations as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender (LGBT) adolescents.
[CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF LGBT TERMS AND THEIR MEANINGS]
Media regularly report bullying of LGBT high school students. The most recent National School Climate Survey reports that instances of hostility toward LGBT students have declined somewhat since the biennial survey began in 1999. Yet, LGBT students who experience victimization because of their sexual orientation are more than three times as likely to have missed school in the past month, had a lower grade point average (GPA) than students who were less often harassed, and were twice as likely not to consider college or trade school.
What is the climate for LGBT students? How do they feel? What can each of us do to make the
world a better place for all LGBT students to live?
Download the LGBT High School Students Reading List (pdf) and Discussion Guide (pdf).
Disabilities in the Workplace
The unemployment rate in the United States might still feel like a major concern to many Americans, but perhaps especially so for those with disabilities. People who have disabilities are employed at a significantly lower rate- 12.5%, in fact, compared to the 5.9% unemployment rate of those with no disabilities.
This much lower rate of employment is likely due to a combination of factors, but one thing is certain: many employers are hesitant to hire people with disabilities. In the eyes of the average business owner or CEO, employees with disabilities can mean additional costs due to laws that protect those with disabilities in the workplace. But what exactly do these laws dictate, and how do they affect business owners?
The Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (also known as ADA, or the Rehabilitation Act) prohibits employers from treating people with disabilities differently, or less favorably, from other staff members. It also requires employers to provide adequate accommodation to any employees who have disabilities. These accommodations can include anything from work environments to equipment, but can also encompass removing policies that create barriers for these individuals.
The ADA does exclude certain businesses from its legislation, but only if they meet certain criteria, like if accommodating a person with a disability would place an excessive difficulty or expense on the employer.
Additionally, the ADA prohibits discrimination when it comes to hiring decisions. Potential candidates who have disabilities must be given equal opportunity to able-bodied candidates.
What Disabilities in the Workplace Actually Means
It’s likely that because of the ADA, business owners worry about hiring employees with disabilities because of potential costs. And just because a law is in place to prevent discrimination doesn’t mean that employers aren’t still hesitant about people with disabilities in the workplace. However, according to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce report, hiring those with disabilities is actually good for a business’ bottom line. In fact, employers who hired and met the needs of employees who had disabilities reported benefits such as retaining valuable employees, improving the company’s productivity and overall morale, and even reducing both workers’ compensation and training costs. As Judy Owen, co-founder and COO of Opportunity Works, Inc., explains: “The report also found that other accommodations had an average cost of $500. How much is that cost compared to the cost of employee turnover? It is clearly much less expensive to provide the accommodation than to have an employee leave.”
What Business Owners Can Do
As a manager, business owner, or member of an organization’s executive team, it’s your job to ensure that the workplace you lead is an environment in which ALL of your employees can work together- with ALL of their differences. Making accommodations for employees with disabilities not only sets a high standard for your organization, but it also has the potential to bring about rewarding and positive change in the workplace.
If you’re considering other ways to further incorporate dignity and respect in your work environments, be sure to contact our Campaign Manager for more information. We can provide various solutions- between training kits, workshops, and speaking engagements- to help bring together the individuals who make up your workplace, and build both trust and community.
No matter who is part of your team, differences are only barriers if we allow them to be. Learn more today!
You’re probably used to seeing handicapped parking spaces in front of stores and restaurants, or perhaps even familiar with the growing number of automatic doors into public buildings that are handicapped-accessible. And to someone who’s never had the experience of being disabled, these small conveniences might seem almost like a luxury. Did you know, however, that nearly one in five Americans has a disability – and that more than half of them identify it as severe?
For people who live with a disability, simple things like parking spaces and door buttons are not a convenience, but a necessity. Many disabled people struggle to do things like housework or even fixing meals. They often have difficulty lifting items like grocery bags or grasping a glass of water. But aside from overcoming physical challenges of daily life, many people with disabilities also suffer from discrimination.
What is Ableism?
The term ableism refers to the “practices and dominant attitudes in society that devalue and limit the potential of persons with disabilities.” When we talk about ableism, we’re talking about not treating those with disabilities as whole people. Ableism assumes that able-bodied people are superior to anyone living with a disability.
If you’ve never heard this word before, you’re not alone. Unlike racism or sexism, which are two types of prejudices that are widely referenced and discussed, ableism is not as mainstream. Does this mean that ableist beliefs are not as harmful or negative? Absolutely not. Discrimination towards people with disabilities is just as damaging. And because ableism is not talked about as commonly as other inequalities, it may actually be harder to know when you are contributing towards ableist tendencies.
What Can You Do to Stop Ableism?
The world might be predominantly built for able-bodied individuals, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t simple ways to make a difference. Read on for a few easy ways to help do your part to stop ableism:
Watch what you say. It’s easy to brush off using certain words as “no big deal,” but to people living with a disability, these terms can be both disrespectful and hurtful. And maybe it’s a no-brainer that a word like retarded is not okay to use, but things like crazy or spaz or psycho also have harmful effects. Be sure to refrain from using any sort of language that targets someone with a disability (and for a helpful, more detailed guide – click here).
Be considerate. As an able-bodied person, you might forget that you have access to just about everywhere – and that someone with a disability might not. Places like handicapped bathroom stalls and the front seats of public transportation were put there for a reason. Though you might not be intentionally discriminating against people with disabilities, you are inadvertently doing just that by utilizing the resources there for them. So instead of taking the elevator and crowding it for someone who needs it, take the stairs or the escalator.
Always ask before assisting. One of the worst assumptions that an able-bodied person can make is that everyone with a disability is incapable of helping themselves. People living with disabilities know how to ask for help, and will when they need it. However, if you see someone who seems to be struggling, be sure to ask permission beforehand. Even if they decline, they will likely appreciate the gesture.
In addition to these simple ways to do your part to fight ableism, take the time to learn more about people who live with disabilities. Participate in the Dignity & Respect Campaign’s Building Cultural Awareness Initiative and download our discussion guide and reading list for this month. Ask yourself questions about living with a disability, such as how you talk about disabilities or who should be responsible for supporting disabled persons.
Remember: differences are only barriers if we allow them to be. Do your part and learn how you can help to make this world a better place – for ALL to live.