Recommended Reading

by Race in the Workplace special correspondent Erica Mauter

Leadership sans power - Leadership Turn
“The easiest way to nudge is by doing—just take the initiative and do something. That’s often enough to get everyone moving. Offering help to teammates who are stuck, in a manner that doesn’t undercut or offend them, is another way to lead (if you insist on using that term).”

What to do if your boss is Isiah Thomas - TIME’s Work in Progress
“focus on the problem; acknowledge it; ignore the behavior you dislike; and report what’s untenable. ‘Personally, I think she should have quit,’ [negotiating expert Michael Donaldson] says. ‘No one should have to put up with that. But if she really wanted to keep that job, she would have to have undertaken as a major project the changing of his behavior.’”

Job Search Rule #21: Use Good Telephone Skills - The Career Encouragement Blog
Some things that seem obvious, but that a surprising number of people probably don’t do. Such as not letting your kids answer your phone and listening to your voicemails before returning a call.

Let’s Get Rid of FUN at work! - Slacker Manager
Doing away with “coercive joviality.” i.e., if you have to tell someone to have fun, they’re not going to.

Too many office trinkets? Professional image may suffer - University of Michigan News Service
“If more than one in five items that adorn a worker’s office or cubicle are personal in nature, others may view that worker as unprofessional.” (via On the Job)

O.T. Isn’t as Simple as Telling Time - New York Times
“Because the woman, Carla Bird, is an assistant at Oprah Winfrey’s production company, Harpo Studios, and because some seemingly jealous co-workers spread the word to the news media, her $32,000 payout was the talk of those who pay attention to workload for a living. The work/life experts were predictably appalled that Ms. Bird had logged so many hours. And the labor lawyers? They were impressed — that she had actually collected her overtime pay.”

Immigration Absurdity - The Creative Class Exchange
“The economic benefits to diversity are two-fold. First, a greater variety of products and experiences for consumers, such as ethnic restaurants, fusion food, R&B music, or new holistic therapies that blend Eastern and Western influences. Second, and perhaps most importantly, diversity stimulates innovation.”

Recommended Reading is a weekly feature where we link to some of our favorite workplace-related blog posts and articles. If you would like to suggest a link to Erica, please email

Recommended Reading

by Race in the Workplace special correspondent Erica

Adding my opinion to the molehill - One Louder
A Microsoft staffing manager’s take on that guy who worked at Microsoft, then ended up at Google, then went back to Microsoft and posted an internal Microsoft email comparing the two workplaces on the internet.

Isaiah Washington’s Big Mistakes - On the Job
Anita Bruzzese reacts to Isaiah Washington’s appearance on Larry King Live. “I sat in awe as I watched this guy dig a hole so deep for himself he may never get out of it. In fact, he broke just about every rule you can regarding your work performance and a former employer.”

Cults and Cultures - Gautam Ghosh: Management Consultant
Gautam Gosh talks about the double-edged sword that is organizational culture.

Taking criticism gracefully - Ask a Manager
“If your manager takes the time to give you feedback, looking petulant and defensive and perhaps even outright pissed off — as someone did to me last week — isn’t going to help you. It’s not that you just have to sit back and take it if you disagree with the criticism you’re hearing; you can say that you have a different point of view. But it’s all in how you do it, and it’s especially in your tone.” My first reaction was to wonder if this is another one of those cases where your response as a minority might be under greater scrutiny than the responses of your non-minority co-workers.

Decisions to Promote - The Black Factor
“It reminds me of a Black coworker I worked with a few years ago. She resigned, in part, because she was assigned to report to a White manager whose credentials and education were nearly identical to hers. How did their backgrounds differ? The Black worker had an additional degree that her new supervisor didn’t possess. So, the reality was these two individuals were not only ‘not equals,’ but the White manager should have been reporting to the person that the company made her subordinate. And, this is exactly the type of incident that repeats itself over and over all across corporate America.”

Recommended Reading is a weekly feature where we link to some of our favorite workplace-related blog posts and articles. If you would like to suggest a link to Erica, please email

Diversity training doesn’t work. Here’s why.

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

“Diversity training.”

What comes to your mind when you read those words?

a) Listening to boring speakers who use meaningless buzzwords like “cultural competence” and “tolerance.”

b) Participating in awkward workshop exercises. Privilege walk, anyone?

c) Learning painfully obvious things, like “racism is bad.” As if you didn’t already know that.

d) All of the above.

It’s no wonder diversity fatigue is sweeping across America.

The truth is, I believe that most diversity training doesn’t work.

Why not?

Because so many diversity trainers focus on all the wrong things, like:

  • Training people to hide their racism
    Yes, you read that correctly. Many diversity trainers don’t push people to challenge their own racist beliefs. Instead, the seminars teach people to be more aware of the non-verbal cues (the fancy word is “microinequities”) they send out that may tip others off to their racism. The philosophy is: hide your racism in order to create a more harmonious workplace.
  • Celebrating diversity
    It’s much easier to engage in feel-good, uncritical celebrations of diversity and multiculturalism than it is to tackle the complex issues surrounding race and racism. But focusing on “celebrating diversity” only encourages people to turn a blind eye to racism, and promotes the myth that we live in a happy-go-lucky, color-blind world.
  • Making people of color teach white people about racism
    Let’s face it: Most diversity trainers aim their messages at white people and treat the people of color in the room as teaching aides. There’s an unspoken assumption that only white folks need to learn about race and racism, and that everyone else should share their stories and experiences in order to help their white colleagues achieve anti-racist nirvana. This approach alienates people of color and makes white people feel angry and resentful. Racism is not just a white problem — we live in a racist society and all of us have absorbed these racist messages, whether we are conscious of them or not.

People are tired of tiptoeing around issues of race. They are tired of safe cultural tourism. They are tired of companies who know how to say the right things but can’t back up their words with action.

It’s time to go beyond diversity buzzwords and oppression olympics.

I’m putting forth a new framework for discussing race and racism. Will you join me?

Note: If you liked this post, please digg it so more people can discover it.

Recommended Reading

by Race in the Workplace special correspondent Erica

Do You Know Your Company’s Unspoken Rules? - All Things Workplace
You have to know both the corporate culture and individual personalities. How formal or casual should you be? How does word travel? Making the unspoken norms into spoken norms can help you make them work to your advantage and possibly help you work around them when they’re not in your favor. (via Gautam Ghosh - Management Consultant)

Why Minorities Distrust Employers’ Promotion Policies and Practices - Monster Career Advice
“‘Most companies don’t do a good job of articulating performance expectations, giving feedback or coaching employees’ career development — for any employee. This leaves all employees filling in the explanations for themselves. Many women and people of color fill in the gap with the explanation that bias must be involved because of their race or gender.’”

When You Have to Fire An Employee - Employee Handbooks
From the legal perspective. Be truthful, tactful, and careful. (via Strategic HR Lawyer)

Adapting to Adoptions - Life at Work
Parents who adopt don’t get nearly the amount of time off that parents who give birth do. In fact, they probably need more help because of the cost of adoption. They don’t have any money left over to support themselves through unpaid time off.

Arneson on What is Wrongful Discrimination? - Workplace Prof Blog
On “the concept of discrimination from a philosophical perspective.”

The Real Road to Green: Don’t Reduce, Distribute! - The Support Economy
The post addresses the obvious environmental benefit to telecommuting. I prefer to think of it in terms of how much happier I would be to have that commute time to myself, and how much more comfortable and productive I could be in the workspace of my choosing. But it alters a big part of today’s office environment which is face time and networking with co-workers at all levels.

Recommended Reading is a weekly feature where we link to some of our favorite workplace-related blog posts and articles. If you would like to suggest a link to Erica, please email