Assimilation does not work anymore
Assimilation, a long-standing attitude embraced by older-generation workers to manage racial bias, is not so acceptable among more youthful generations.
“‘Go along to get along’ is something based on your age group,” Patricia M. Morris, MBA, COE, said in a webinar hosted by Ophthalmic World Leaders. “For many, many years, assimilation was common practice, [but] assimilation just draws deeper lines in the sand.”
In ophthalmology workplaces, rather than accept such a “culture of complicity,” Morris and Craig N. Piso, PhD, advised acting as agents for change.
“Now is the time to confront any bias, whether or not it’s affecting you directly or affecting somebody around you,” Morris said.
To initiate change, each agent must have “courage, commitment and skill, and backup from those in authority,” Piso said. “It requires each person to choose their loyalty. Are you going to be more loyal to your peers ... or do the more uncommon thing, the heroic thing?”
Morris encourages conversations in the workplace about race whether one-on-one or in group settings, but they need to be “constructive and respectful.”
Rather than treating those who speak up as “tattletales,” they should be encouraged as part of a solution, Piso said.
“Let’s reward, encourage and commend people who are speaking up, respectfully but assertively,” he said.
For leaders who want to make the pivot and become agents for change, Morris said, “Start with those small steps. Start with updating your handbook. Start with having a diversity and inclusion policy. Start with including your diversity and inclusion policy in your classified ads.”
Training and education are also helpful.
“It’s imperative for managers, supervisors, all of the leaders, to go through sensitivity training, whether it’s computer-based or an actual diversity and inclusion course,” Morris said.
For those who would hesitate becoming agents for change, Piso said, “Comfort is the enemy of change. Because people become uncomfortable, they hesitate or refuse to be part of the solution. ... We never make any substantive or important changes without paying the toll of discomfort. So, let’s just embrace the discomfort. Tolerate the discomfort to earn a greater reward.”