James Hoeke of Philadelphia PA, asks:
We are exploring the possibility of addressing the president's race initiative at work. There are two different views on what should be discussed. One group wants to discuss in detail race & work issues (perceived discrimination in the office). The other group wants to discuss race issues in broader terms and use other venues (traditional labor management relations forums) to discuss the detailed work issues. In your opinion, what alternative described above is more in line with what the president had in mind?
To answer your question directly, I think the initiative is seeking
to bring a broader cross-section of people to the table to discuss questions
and concerns about race and discrimination. But you should not underestimate
the wisdom behind the notion that you need to start where people are.
In other words, if the majority of your group feels it would be more
productive to begin with an internal discussion before taking the subject
out to a wider audience, you should think seriously about doing just
that. If there are no strong sentiments, and you are just describing
a couple of options, I would urge you to take the discussion to as broad
an audience as feasible but this means you will need to commit yourself
to investing the time in structuring a conversation that will be worthy
of the time you are asking people to spend in discussing the matter.
William Winter responds:
It seems to me that the particular circumstances in an individual workplace
would determine the answer to this question. I would suggest that it
is important in every instance to have a group of workers who understand
the basic elements of creating a good working environment. This must
start with the application of standards of civility toward others and
of according respect and dignity to every person in the workplace. Without
this pattern of conduct firmly accepted, no method for the discussion
of racial issues will be very productive. [Next