Season 6, Episode 4:
#MeToo, Diversity and Inclusion with Tim Sackett
Steve sat down again with Tim Sackett to talk about the #MeToo movement, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace. Though they’re controversial topics, we weren’t afraid to dig into the issues from a critical perspective.
How Tim’s Article on #MeToo Went Viral…
Tim started the discussion by sharing a story about how he wrote an article on #MeToo that went viral. In short, he was at a conference and going out to dinner with a client. They had a couple of bottles of wine, he went to give her a hug at the end of the night, and she kissed him right on the mouth. It was a strange experience and he knew he wanted to write about it, but wasn’t sure how.
So he went on to write an article about some rules or general guidelines for hugging in the workplace, when it’s acceptable and when it isn’t. As it turns out, the CEO of Jeff Weiner saw the article and shared it. Naturally, it went viral after that, but it’s taken on a new context with the #MeToo movement.
Are We Overcompensating?
Steve and Tim both said that HR has overcompensated a little bit in the light of the #MeToo movement. Some people seem to think that hugging doesn’t belong at all in the workplace, but Tim disagrees. He’s still a hugger and thinks there’s a place for it in the office.
However, Steve clarified that although there’s some overcompensation, we have to admit that there are still very real issues behind the movement.
“As you said, there are some creeps unfortunately making primarily women very uncomfortable in the workplace, and we’ve gotta admit that.”
“It’s mostly dudes, and we have to understand that not every person wants a hug from us, and not every person wants a romantic relationship…there’s a leadership aspect to it as well…as leaders you have to understand where that place is…one of the things, like from a social media aspect is anyone on my staff, I’ll never connect with them on social media, but if they request a connection from me, I will connect.”
A huge part of acceptable behavior stems from simple self-awareness to understand that not everyone is comfortable with everything you are. It’s about respecting others boundaries, regardless of where those lie.
Diversity and Inclusion
Steve prompted Tim to talk a little bit about diversity, inclusion, and how that conversation has changed over the past few years.
“I don’t think we’ve had a tipping point yet where we’ve gotten past the politically correct talk of diversity and inclusion…I think we’re still there where we have these rose-colored glasses to say it’s always correct.”
However, Tim said he’s worked with several billion-dollar companies who have had to close plants after they went full-diversity and it screwed things up. But when he talks about these examples, people always jump to the conclusion that the workplaces were originally all white men. In reality, that often isn’t the case. In one example, Tim talked about a plant that was 95% Hispanic men that started failing when white men and women were introduced.
Tim believes that in some environments, particularly ones where a single process should be completed over and over, homogeneity is actually a strength. On the flip side of the coin, diversity is a strength in corporate environments where decision-making, innovation, and creativity is needed. As a result, many large organizations can benefit from some homogeneity and diversity alike depending on the function of the team.
Tim cited a specific example of how homogeneity can be a strength. He described a marketing agency run and operated by a team of 99% women. They work primarily with women-owned businesses and market more female products, so it actually works out in their favor to have a women-dominated environment. We have to get past the idea that a non-diverse work environment equates to a team of all white men.
“I think there are always circumstances where we have to sit back and say “never 100% of the time is [diversity] going to work and be better.”
Are We Afraid to Talk About Our Differences?
Steve shared a story about his 17-year old daughter and her diverse group of friends. Long story short, she said the reason they got along was that they weren’t afraid to talk about their differences.
Tim challenges him on that with a similar story about a company who hired three women – one Asian woman, one African American woman, and one white woman. The company believed this would give them that diversity of thought. But when Tim looked at their resume, he saw that they all went to expensive private schools growing up. In his eyes, this meant they were more alike than they looked and wouldn’t bring that diversity of thought.
“I know people are going to be watching this and think “oh, two white dudes or Gen Xers talking about D and I” but the reality is that’s probably like the rest of the Fortune 500 as well, trying to figure this out…I think we have to raise the level of conversation.”
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