Although many organizations and individuals have conversations about race and culture, not all of these dialogues are productive. To make your discussions more worthwhile, think in terms of what is resourceful—conversations that are helpful and will help move you to your goals—and unresourceful—conversations that shut down engagement. Let’s review a couple of examples to see the difference.
Unresourceful Strategy: Ask People to Talk about Their Experiences with Discrimination.
Asking people to talk about times they experienced discrimination is unresourceful because it splits the audience into groups. There are the people who have experienced discrimination and are comfortable sharing about it, and the people who’ve experienced it but aren’t comfortable talking about it. Then there are the people who haven’t experienced discrimination and don’t believe they have anything to add to the conversation. This strategy—which, unfortunately, is common— immediately reduces the number of active participants before anyone has even said a word.
Resourceful Strategy #1: Invite Everyone to Respond to a Recent News Event.
By contrast, you could begin the conversation with discussion of a recent news item. Invite—but don’t require—everyone to share their reactions. People will bring their experiences to the table, but you haven’t required them to do it. Their perspectives are being shared voluntarily.
Resourceful Strategy #2: Ask People to Share Favorite Family Traditions, and Ask if Anyone Has Any Ideas for Adapting These for the Workplace.
Inviting people to share traditions can give people insight into other cultures and experiences—and it’s an opportunity to discover commonalities as well. It’s an enjoyable way of educating your team and reminding them that everyone should look for positive ways to incorporate diverse perspectives and traditions into their work.
At Ebony Marketing Systems, we are experts at designing and conducting multicultural research—and turning that research into actionable ideas. We develop a unique strategy that best suits you, while meeting the needs of the communities you serve and those you want to serve. For more information, call us at (718)742-0006 or send us a message today.
I am the President and Founder of Ebony Marketing Systems, Inc. (EMS), a multicultural market research firm.