Community Violence's Connection to Micro Aggressions

Shouting, protesting, shootings related to race discrimination and civil unrest seem to be an everyday happenings, at a time when we should be listening and valuing each other.

If we look at the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr. he would not support the acts of violence but rather would encourage dialogue and peaceful protests. Somewhere along the lines we as a society have lost our sense of civility and our ability to engage in conversations to seek truth and understanding. Rather we have given way to assumptions, distrust and lack of integrity.

The violent acts we see on television that are occurring in our communities are showing up in our work environments as micro aggressions. In recent months, I have found myself fielding a number of calls from employees, managers and business leaders who have experienced these behaviors first hand.

Some examples of micro aggressions show up as :

* an employee dragging their feet or out right refusing to complete an assigned project

* a head of human resources accusing an employee who has cancer of being slow and ineffective then firing them

* a CEO who know he should fire a direct report who has been actively discriminating against female

employees and engaging in bullyism keep their job but put the promotion of the female employee

on hold

* a white male employee who takes it upon himself to harass another male employee because of his

race in a plant environment and stuff bananas in a locker.

Too often employees become the victims of these micro agressions and nothing is done in the workplace either because Human Resources or the Diversity Office are not prepared to investigate and address these issues. Sometimes an organization would rather cover up the situation and instead of addressing the issue they make the employee who surfaced the issue go away.

Neither of these approaches are correct because it further show the company is not living its core values and/or that senior management doesn't have the leadership skills to effectively address issues that make employees feel unsafe.

So what should Human Resources and Diversity Offices do:

* Provide managers and employees with training on conflict resolution skills so that they can address the challenges in the work place themselves

* Conduct a thorough investigation of complaints and concerns that are surfaced through and

independent body. Too often HR leaders who are golfing buddies or personal friends with the

management person under investigation will be the one to conduct the investigation.

It is critical that at a time when our civility is being tested that Human Resources and Diversity practitioner must remember why they first got into their chosen profession which was to protect the rights of people and the communities they are part of.


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