Diverse Business Show Blog Talk Radio

Thursday, October 14, 2010

DIVERSITY: The Value of Mutual Respect

"Seek to understand before seeking to be understood."

-- Augustine, 4th Century

"A great many people think they are thinking when they
are merely rearranging their prejudices.
-- William James

"Always remember that you're unique.
Just like everybody else.
-- Anonymous

Diversity. Considered by some to be the "D" word! My philosophy in presenting the subject of diversity is best understood when considering an onion with its many layers. Each layer presents another opportunity to discuss the best ways to work together with greater harmony, understanding and mutual respect.
  • Fear of Loss

  • Cultural Competency

  • Professional Status

  • Religious Affiliations

  • Generational Influences

  • Disability Awareness

  • Gender Differences

  • Diversity/Personality Style

Of course there are many more layers in some organizations, like Political Differences, Musical Tastes, etc. I believe that workforce diversity is dealt with through the doorway of each unique personality style. I also believe in presenting the material in an honest, vulnerable manner that doesn't leave people merely tolerating (heartily dislike that word in this context!) each other.

Participants are encouraged to connect with others who can become their cultural guides and/or historical guides as they seek to understand before seeking to be understood. As someone once said, "You can attack my head (I wasn't thinking), but please do not attack my heart (I mean well and truly want to learn)."

The "Egg Shell" Effect: Some diversity initiatives leave the participants in such a state of hyper-awareness about their differences that everyone is left walking on egg shells. On edge. Nervous. Fearful of saying something stupid. Risk-averse or risk-neutral. Very little sense of humor.

Enter the "anti-egg-shell" experience that engages both the head and the heart, encouraging participants to understand the risk/reward ratio. The higher the personal risk of vulnerability, curiosity and openness, the greater the relational payoff. Embracing the spice of life!

It's the wisdom that emerges from the curiosity-driven life -- possessing the potential of transcending the humdrum work environment into a transformational diversity-astute lifestyle (24/7).

The freedom to enjoy the humor (even laughing at ourselves) is one of the side benefits of greater understanding...as we delight in learning about ourselves and others around us. This is the kind of stuff I am passionate about!


Low ------->
Medium --->
High ------->


------> Low
----> Medium
------> High

Everyone approaches workforce diversity in their own style. Some folks are more blustery in their approach while others are more quiet and reserved. It's hard to know what they are really thinking. Attitudes may be strongly felt, but are not as readily accessible to co-workers. Still others deal with diversity as a task to be accomplished. For some their task is completed for that day when they leave to go home -- picking up the next morning with the desire to continue with the completion of the task.

Understanding diversity begins by awakening the understanding our own "hot buttons" and discovering how and perhaps why we behave the way we do. People around us do not respond to our intentions. They respond to our behavior. Regardless of our individual values and convictions, it is paramount that co-workers treat each other with respect, compassion and integrity.

My initial focus is in helping participants take an inward look, understanding more about their own strengths and vulnerabilities. This is done with a certain gentle artistry in which no one has his or her dignity or self-respect stripped in the process. It's a lot of fun.

Then I help participants take an outward look -- how they interact with others around them. Here we show participants how they can, not only understand their co-workers, but also have the skills necessary in exporting this knowledge to their other relationships. People who are happier at home tend to be happier and more productive at work and vice versa.

Working in a diverse workforce stretches and challenges everyone's internal world. Gender, race, generational issues and other layers cause all of us to take a brand new look at personal prejudices and narrow-mindedness. At the same time, each new layer provides another wonderful opportunity to seek to understand before seeking to be understood. (Near the bottom of this page is the difference between a proactive and reactive approach to diversity.)

Training, education and skills determine the "what" we do. Values are the "why" we do things the way we do them. Behavior and emotions are the "how" we do what we do. Co-workers do not respond to intentions, they respond to behavior. That is why we focus upon the "how" and what sponsors it from the inside out.

* HOW: Determine your personal approach to diversity
* PROBLEMS - How you approach the diverse problems and challenges
* PEOPLE - How you interact with and attempt to influence others
* PACE - How you respond to change and activities
* PROCEDURE - How you respond to rules and regulations set by others

Civility in the workplace must be expected and is imposed externally by any organization wishing to remain competitive. But there is higher level of success that emerges from harnessing the power of mutual respect and cross-cultural understanding. Mutual respect must spring from the internal structures of each individual. For this to truly capture the culture of the organization this must cascade down from the senior leadership to every level of the organization -- enhancing creativity, productivity and an emotionally safe environment.

-- by Joel A. Freeman, Ph.D., CEO/President, The Freeman Institute® www.DiversityCrazy.com

Return on Investment (R.O.I.): Some futurists predict that before or by the year 2050 there will be no clearly defined racial/cultural majority in the USA. Demographic changes and shifting attitudes in the nation result in a different face of the workforce. In work environments where differences in gender, race, religion, or other cultural aspects are not addressed, undue tension results. Our diversity training approach moves beyond a basic awareness of differences; we help people learn skills to cope more effectively with the challenges of facing diversity in a responsible and reflective manner. The proactive implementation of the contents of this diversity program can't help but usher in greater productivity and creativity in any organization.

About the author: Joel A. Freeman, Ph.D., President/CEO, Freeman Institute®
"Dealing With People Who Drive You Crazy!"®
www.WorkHardWorkSmart.com -- Freeman's New Book
www.FreemanInstitute.com -- Freeman Institute
www.FreemanStuff.com -- TFI Online Store
www.CIDcoach.com -- Critical Incident Debriefing
www.Black101.com --Black History Collection
www.DiversityCrazy.com -- "Diversity: The Value of Mutual Respect"
www.AngerSeminar.com -- "When Strangling Someone Isn't An Option!"
www.JoelAFreeman.com -- Freeman's Bio

Monday, October 11, 2010

Making Dreams Reality for Minority Businesses

I think one of the most amazing things that we can accomplish in life is to see a vision then a plan become a reality. Whether you are an artist, a builder of houses or businesses, successful completion of the task requires a vision.

Where do these visions come from? I think the answer to this is from somewhere deep within our life experiences.

For the MBE, it may have been the experience of watching a family member struggle and perhaps succeed in their own businesses.

For a corporate representative it could just as easily come from childhood experiences as from academic training. I wonder if you were to close your eyes for 30 seconds, breathe deeply and ask yourself what is my vision now: What would you see?

Dr. Fred McKinney is the President of the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council (GNEMSDC)

Minority business development — Why now more than ever (see http://www.diversebusinessoppty.posterous.com)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Minority Business, Max Fisher Theatre, Rhonda Walker, Corporate and Minority Award Winners

The Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC) will host over 700 minority business owners and the nation’s top corporate executives will be present to celebrate the stars that made $12 billion in contract opportunities possible for the members of the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC). This Awards Show and Strolling Dinner will take place at the Max Fisher Music Center in Detroit, Michigan starting at 5PM.

The mistress of ceremonies for the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Awards Event is Rhonda Walker, morning anchor on local NBC Affiliate (WDIV Detroit - pictured above)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fifteen Rules for Starting a Business - Minority Business Tribute

Starting a business can allow you to gain freedom in your life and choice in your lifestyle. If you dream of doing work you love, earning more and creating a working environment that meets the needs of you and your family it could be your ideal solution.

Here are 15 rules for starting a business:

  1. It has to be a 'BIG' idea that you, your team and your customers 'get' in one sentence and a matter of seconds.
  2. When determining your price point, aim to provide at least ten times (and more like 1000 times) the value to your customers. Remember value is what your product/service provides to the customer not what it costs to make it.
  3. In the planning phase make sure you have a reason why customers should do business with you and not your competitor. You need to be unique in some way and offer something new to the market.
  4. Ideally get paid before you provide your product or service. And if possible add recurring income to your business model.
  5. Create your new business around your life rather than having your business dictate your life to you. After all, one of the reasons you are starting a business is probably so you have a better life.
  6. Get your idea out there as fast as possible even if it is not quite ready by setting must hit deadlines. Your market will soon tell you ifyou have a winner or not. If it isn't a winner then move on and get the next thing out there and try again.
  7. When finding partners and team members, find people who are strong where you are weak so your skills complement each other
  8. Your reputation is always important. Ensure that you honor your obligations and agreements.
  9. Never ever get paid based on number of hours worked. Always get paid on achieving a goal, completing a task or providing a good.
  10. Know from the outset that you will never have a perfect business and you will never be totally 'done'.
  11. Provide a meaningful guarantee with whatever you are selling. This takes away the risk from your customers and will lead to more sales. If you can't guarantee what you are providing then maybe you should not be selling it in the first place.
  12. Develop and build your business personality that stands out.People want to buy from people not from corporations. Just look at Steve Jobs and Apple.
  13. Go the opposite direction to where your competitors are headed.You will stand out, have something unique and more than likely have more success. If you want average results do what average people (and competitors do). If you want outstanding results do the opposite of what most people (and companies) are doing.
  14. Make your business fun and also doing business with you fun. If you are not enjoying life and your business then stop and do something else.
  15. Above all, make sure you have a life. Business and making money are important but your life is the sum total of your experiences so go out and create experiences. Create adventures. Do something new. Then come back renewed, inspired and ready for the next big thing.

These 15 rules on starting a business are maybe not the typical 'rules' you see around. But do not dismiss them because of their simplistic and general nature. If you already 'knew that rule' are you actually implementing it? Go back and re-read the article. Stop after each rule and actually think about what it is saying and how you can incorporate it into your business. If you do this the results will be profound! If you go to the effort and commitment of starting a business> then make sure it is a success.

Todd Molloy is the founder of http://www.small-biz.com.au - an established website which offers help, advice, tips and resources on starting and running a small business. If you want to start your own business or are already running a small business you can read additional helpful information at:


Minority Business Month: Annual Awards for Supplier Diversity

www.mmbdc.com for details.

Minority business development — Why now more than ever - diversebusinessoppty's posterous

Minority business development — Why now more than ever

Fred McKinney, president and CEO of the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council.

We have to go back to the Civil Rights era in the 1950s through the 1960s to understand fully why we are so concerned with minority business development. People sometimes forget that in the 1950s America suffered from its own unique brand of apartheid in all of the former Confederate states. And in most of the Northern states that had become a refuge for many blacks since the Civil War, the forms of segregation and discrimination existed in a less overt form. The desegregation of public accommodations, the right to vote, the ability to live and work without discrimination based on the color of one’s skin did not occur overnight and without sacrifice. Dedicated people of all races and creeds gave their lives to make America a place where race was not an insuperable impediment to accomplishing your dreams.

While change was progressing in areas of basic civil rights, and in educational and employment opportunities, minority business growth, the key to full participation in American culture, was slow to develop. Most Americans are unaware that Richard Nixon was the first president to push for black business development. He believed that his concept of “Black Capitalism” was a key missing ingredient in the Civil Rights struggle of the late 1960s. Nixon created the Office of Minority Business Enterprise to help blacks and other minorities, but particularly blacks, “get their piece of the action.”

From the very beginning of the federal program to promote minority business development, there were challenges from non-minority businesses that claimed it was unfair for the federal government, or any local or state government for that matter, to ameliorate hundreds of years of discrimination if it hurt a non-minority business. There has been vigorous opposition to change. As a result, legal challenges have narrowed the ability of public sector efforts to bring about racial and ethnic inclusion in American business.

A private sector initiative

Nonetheless, minority entrepreneurs have grown from close to oblivion to where we are today. The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) played a critical role in this development by taking the cause of minority business development to the private sector. Corporate members of the NMSDC pledged to give certified minority businesses opportunities. Certification was important because from the very beginning of the Nixon era programs, non-minority businesses were setting up “fronts” to steal opportunities away from legitimate minority enterprises. This practice continues to this day, and is particularly prevalent within the women’s business community. Despite the legal challenges, progress has been made even though today the federal government does not technically have a minority business procurement program. Federal contractors could meet all of their goals and not buy one dime of services from a certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) in our Council. This is one of the reasons why minority business development in the private sector is needed now more than ever.

Over the years, the push for racial diversity has increased. Ironically, the emphasis on minority business development in the public sector has waned, even while the push for racial diversity and inclusion elsewhere has grown. Indeed, diversity and inclusion are needed and are desirable. However, racial integration in other areas should not come at the expense of minority business development. This is a lesson that the best corporate members of the NMSDC understand; but unfortunately, that lesson is lost on many corporations.

In a tough economy like we have right now, corporations are not buying as freely as they once did. As a result, minority businesses and minority business development are at risk. The role of supplier diversity leaders is to make sure that minority business development and minority businesses are treated fairly in these difficult times and not just jettisoned from the supply chain. This takes real leadership and leadership takes guts. While there are other corporate goals, this is a corporate goal that is equally as deserving as any other for the long term health and survival of a corporation. Supplier diversity leaders must believe this, and if they do not, minority business development and minority businesses are in trouble.

Today’s challenge

I write much about how MBEs need to do this or they need to do that. Indeed, there are also some requirements for corporate leaders in minority business development. Primary among them is to get out in front of minority business development. They must make the case to internal stakeholders that even if a MBE is a little more expensive to do business with right now, it does not mean over the next few quarters that will be the case if the corporation is willing to “develop” that MBE. In baseball, the Yankees do not expect a Double-A shortstop to come in and replace Derek Jeter tomorrow. They do expect that Double-A shortstop to compete for that position one day. MBEs need to be brought into corporate supply chains so that one day they too will be able to compete for major business. Then they will be able to support the goals and objectives of the organization.

I am afraid that if corporations do not rededicate themselves to minority business development we will lose a generation of minority entrepreneurs who started their businesses with a dream to get their piece of the action. Make no mistake about it, we have much to be proud of in the brief history of minority business development. Now is not the time to rest on our laurels.

Hear Dr. Fred on the Diverse Business show on Oct. 25! http://www.blogtalkradio.com/diversebusiness

Minority business development — Why now more than ever - diversebusinessoppty's posterous