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Building a More Diverse, More Inclusive Organization

A Wonderful Micro Affirmation[i]

Good Morning Everyone.  Here is a micro affirmation[ii] that is foundational[iii] to building a more inclusive organization: Adopt the practice of authentically saying “good morning” each day to each co-worker that crosses your path – especially, co-workers who do not enjoy your rank or privilege.  This is my absolute favorite act of affirmation because it is easy and it helps build a more inclusive culture.

“Good Morning” is a small, simple, affirmation that, at the moment it is given and received, places the other person on an equal footing with you and renders that person visible in the shared workspace and perhaps in life.  If it accomplishes nothing else, your co-worker will know that he or she is not invisible – at least not to you.

“Good morning,” when said authentically, is a greeting that physically demonstrates “we,” as in, “We” are co-workers, “we” are neighbors, “we” belong in this space, and “I” see “you.”  In a culture where “I” is more important than “we;” where “eye contact” is made by looking down at a hand-held device, rather looking up into the eyes of another human, the ability to give and receive an authentic greeting is an important element of a strong, satisfying work environment and necessary to building an ever-more inclusive organization.

An authentic greeting makes it difficult to join in negative gossip that may occur among the water cooler crowd.  An authentic greeting is foundational for more serious and more substantive communication especially when such communication includes judgment and feedback.  An authentic greeting is step one in discovering unconscious bias and interrupting affinity bias – especially when making hiring and promotion decisions and making important work assignments.  An authentic greeting will not solve every issue an organization faces.  Rather, an authentic greeting is a first step for members of an organization who want to make it more diverse and more inclusive.

Authentic greetings are a normal way of life for many of us who are longtime residents of Denver.   Whether you live here or elsewhere, our “home trainin’” taught us that we are all neighbors.  Visitors often notice that we are a friendly city and they like that about Denver.  For that and many other reasons, I urge those of us who work for any company or agency or other formally organized entity to continue to advance Denver’s reputation as a friendly city.  Treat your co-workers as if they are your neighbors, as if they are people you want and need in your environment, as if they are people with whom you enjoy spending time, problem solving, expediting tasks, embracing the organization’s mission and celebrating its successes.  The point is, we are all one people; we are all in this together, and we are indivisible.  All of us need to give respect and be respected in turn.  I cannot think of a better way to add value to the day than by intentionally giving respect to your co-worker with a simple, authentic “good morning.”

To be continued………………,Skip Gray, III 6/28/17

Comments on background: 

Observations in 2008:  It has now been over 40 years since Mary Rowe’s 2008 publication Micro-affirmations & Micro-inequities; and, over 40 years since Rowe observed “the cumulative, corrosive effect” of micro inequities on corporate culture and concluded that “micro-inequities have been a principal scaffolding for discrimination in the US.”

Implications for action in 2017.  More than we realize, I believe that micro-inequities still shape our corporate culture today.  If we are not vigilant and intentional, micro-inequities will play an even more dominant role in this “post pc” era.  If you agree then do three things:

First, read or re-read articles by Rowe and others like Jonathan Segal’s October 16, 2014 article Subtle Bias: Micro-Inequities and Micro-Aggressions, or Berit Brogaard’s April 20, 2013 article, The Superhuman Mind Micro-Inequities.

Second, ask your organization to engage in teaching and training opportunities about micro-affirmations, micro-inequities, implicit bias, and affinity bias.

Third, while you wait for your organization to say “ok,” engage in self-discovery – take the implicit association test,  at https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/india/background/index.jsp.

Now, add your own micro affirmations and let’s continue the conversation.

[i] Mary Rowe, Micro-affirmations & Micro-inequities in the Journal of the International Ombudsman Association, Volume 1, Number 1, March 2008

[ii] Mary Rowe defines “’micro affirmations’ as “apparently small acts, which are often ephemeral and hard-to-see, events that are public and private, often unconscious but very effective, which occur wherever people wish to help others to succeed.” 

[iii] Micro affirmations offset “micro inequities,” which Mary Rowe called “little isues” that reside within a corporate culture.  Mary Rowe defined “micro inequities” as “apparently small events which are often ephemeral and hard-to-prove, events which are covert, often unintentional, frequently unrecognized by the perpetrator, which occur wherever people are perceived to be ‘different.”