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The Lens - September 2022We only use cookies that are necessary for this site to function to provide you with the best experience. The controller of this site may choose to place supplementary cookies to support additional functionality such as support analytics, and has an obligation to disclose these cookies. Learn more in our Cookie Statement. The Lens - September 2022 City of Iowa City sent this bulletin at 09/20/2022 03:00 PM CDT Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page. September 2022 | The Lens is a newsletter to expand conversations on equity, inclusion, belonging, and access. DEI yields ROI As diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives become increasingly popular, some businesses may implement them simply because it’s the trend. Research shows, however, that true workplace diversity actually contributes to greater revenue, employee retention, and innovation. To achieve these benefits, diversity and inclusion must be authentic. Matt Bush, Culture Coaching Lead at Great Place to Work, cautions that everyone, regardless of their role, must feel valued, involved, and supported in all aspects of the business. “Do you have diversity in your recruiting, in each of your departments, and in your leadership?” he asks. “Or do you have a workplace where 50% of your employees are women but 0% of your women are managers? Do you have good representation of employees of color overall, but all of them are in the same department?” If a business does have true diversity and inclusion, teams will be more effective and financial returns will follow. William Maddux, a Professor of Organizational Behavior, studied people who had lived abroad and found that multicultural experience leads to enhanced creativity in negotiations, awareness of underlying connections between ideas, and mental flexibility. Similarly, Carmit Tadmor, a Senior Lecturer at Tel Aviv University’s Coller School of Management, discovered increased “integrative complexity”—the ability to consider and combine multiple perspectives and points of view—in bi- cultural individuals. These skills lead to “smarter, more creative, and, ultimately, more innovative” teams, according to Kelly Services. The global consulting firm McKinsey & Company surveyed 366 public companies and found that those in the top quarter for racial and ethnic diversity in management were 35% more likely - and those with gender diversity 15% more likely - to have financial returns above industry averages. Credit Suisse analyzed 2,400 companies, finding that having at least one woman on the board correlated to higher net income growth and higher return on equity than companies with no women on their boards. Therefore, DEI is much more than a trend; thoughtfully and seriously implemented, DEI initiatives are substantial contributors to success. The Problem with Ableist Language “Public speaking just paralyzes me!” “I’m going blind looking at all this data.” “She’s crazy if she thinks we’ll get that done today.” Most people are aware of racist and sexist language, but many use language that demeans people with disabilities without even noticing. This is called “ableist” language. Ableist language has two types: words and phrases that negatively reference physical disabilities, and those that refer to neurodivergence. Common phrases such as “the blind leading the blind” may not seem harmful on the surface, but they reinforce negative stereotypes. In this case, the phrase refers to a group of people who are incompetent and subtly implies that blind people are also not capable, especially of being leaders. Similarly, saying someone is “dumb” Subscribe to updates from City of Iowa City Email Address e.g. name@exam Subscribe Share Bulletin colloquially means the person is unintelligent, but the medical condition of being dumb is being unable to speak, which has nothing to do with intelligence. And how often do we talk about being “OCD about” or “obsessed with” something? These terms reference very real psychological conditions. Approximately one in four people in the US has a disability, and over 90% of those disabilities are not visible to observers. Therefore, there is a high probability that a person using ableist language will be in the presence of a person with a disability while doing so. Recently, the singer Lizzo faced public outcry over including the word “spaz” in the lyrics of one of her songs. The word derives from “spastic,” which actually refers to muscle hypertonia, a symptom of cerebral palsy, but has become a derogatory term referencing the jerky movements hypertonia can cause. Commendably, Lizzo responded by apologizing and changing the lyrics. Often, however, a person encountering ableist language will simply feel hurt. Sara Nović, an author and professor who is deaf, says “it always stings” when she sees the word used in a negative way and is reminded that most people don’t see the rich culture and language she experiences as a deaf person and view being deaf as “almost exclusively negative.” She notes that people without disabilities may also suffer from using ableist language; if a person develops a disability, they may have a harder time adjusting to a state they have characterized so negatively. Even without ever developing a disability, people who de-humanize others harm themselves. So how can we change? Ariane Resnick has several suggestions: Share with friends — tell them you’re trying not to use ableist language and ask them to help by pointing it out if you do. Create a challenge for yourself, or yourself and others — pick a time period during which you consciously strive not to use ableist language. Reward yourself for success. Repeat with longer time periods until it becomes a habit. Remember no one is perfect. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up. Just do better the next time. Look up alternatives. Some phrases are ingrained in our culture and feel automatic. Be prepared with other options so you aren’t caught off guard. This article offers some suggestions. The National Center on Disability and Journalism has more here. Policy Research Associates has collected several lists here. How to Disarm a Racial Microaggression Dr. Derald Sue, Professor of Psychology and Education at Columbia University, is one of the leading researchers on microaggressions. He defines microaggressions as, “the everyday slights, insults, putdowns, invalidations, and offensive behaviors that people of color experience in daily interactions with generally well-intentioned White Americans who may be unaware that they have engaged in racially demeaning ways toward target groups. In addition to being communicated on an interpersonal level …, micro- aggressions may also be delivered environmentally through social media, educational curricula, TV programs, mascots, monuments, and other offensive symbols.” Through his research, Dr. Sue has found that racial microaggressions are cumulatively more harmful than insults that are not race-based, for several reasons. They are, he notes, “(a) constant and continual in the lives of people of color, (b) cumulative in nature and represent a lifelong burden of stress, (c) continuous reminders of the target group’s second-class status in society, and (d) symbolic of past governmental injustices directed toward people of color (enslavement of Black people, incarceration of Japanese Americans, and appropriating land from Native Americans).” For these reasons, it is important to know how to address a microaggression when it occurs, whether you are the victim of it (Dr. Sue uses the word “target”) or an observer. Interestingly, Dr. Sue divides observers into two groups, “white allies” and “bystanders.” White allies are those who are aware of their privilege and go beyond refraining from bad behavior—they “actively [promote] the rights of the oppressed.” Bystanders are those who are oblivious; they don’t intend harm, but neither are they interested in helping. Both allies and targets can use several strategies to disarm microaggressions and, it is hoped, allow the perpetrator a learning opportunity. First, one can “make the invisible visible” by naming what is really happening. Dr. Sue gives an example of a Black man entering an elevator already occupied by a white couple. The woman moves away and clutches her purse. The man could say, ”Don’t assume I’m dangerous just because I’m Black.” An ally could say, “What’s that about? Are you afraid of him?” A second strategy is to call attention to the microaggression. An ally or a target could say, “Whoa, let’s not go there!” or, simply, “Ouch!” A third is to educate the offender—point out the stereotype and refute it. Finally, targets may choose not to engage and instead to seek support in other ways. Dr. Sue notes it is important to recognize when it is more important to care for oneself than to battle for advances in society. Finally, context matters. Pick your battles, consider when and how to raise the issue, adjust the response to the situation, be aware of relationships, and consider the consequences. Read Dr. Sue’s full article on microaggressions here. For his book examining microaggressions in the wider context of gender and sexual orientation as well as race, go here. Questions? Contact Us STAY CONNECTED: SUBSCRIBER SERVICES: Manage Preferences | Unsubscribe | Help Powered by Privacy Policy | Cookie Statement | Help