Leading Ethically Through Diversity and Inclusion Policies

Guest Post from Kristine D. Jones-Pasley, Ph.D.

From the AOM Code of Ethics: AOM members are aware of and respect cultural, individual, and role
differences, including those based on age, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual
orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status, and they consider these factors when working with all
people. AOM members try to eliminate the effect on their work of biases based on these factors, and they do not
knowingly participate in or condone activities of others based upon such prejudices.

We know that a hot topic for many organizations is the creation of a diverse and inclusive work endiversity at workvironment. Organizations tend to focus on gender and race when it comes to the topic of diversity; however, diversity is much more. Let’s focus on diversity as it relates to people with disabilities (PWD).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (2017), the unemployment rate in 2016 for PWD was 10.5% vs 4.6% for people without disabilities (para. 1). BLS (2017) stated that the unemployment rate for PWD “was little changed from the previous year” (para. 1).

We need to look at these numbers in context, the BLS report information comes from the Current Population Survey, which surveys 60,000 households on employment statuses in the United States. The information is voluntary and from their data BLS determined that the majority of those surveyed with a disability were over the age of 65. This information leads to several questions:

  • Are those younger than 65 hesitant to acknowledge their disability?
  • If they are hesitant, why?
  • How many in the workforce are hiding their disability?

I want to touch on the last question. How many in the workforce are hiding their disability? This one question leads to a host of several questions regarding leadership and organizational culture. When we think of disability we tend to think of visible disabilities; however, there are a number of individuals who have non-visible disabilities.

Think about your team, how many do you know suffer from chronic depression? Diabetes? Heart disease? Migraine headaches? These are just some of the impairments that are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Can you also see why some individuals do not self-identify as having a disability?

Continue to think about your team. Do you have someone on your team that has used a lot of leave in large blocks due to a mysterious illness. Do you have someone on your team that takes several breaks throughout the day to walk around, in the restroom, in their car, etc.?

Have you as a leader and your organization in general, created an environment where team members feel comfortable reporting that they are facing challenges? Are you currently “watching” a member of your team for one more strike so that you can release them from the company? If you knew that they had a disability would you change your mind about releasing them from the company? If you knew that your top employee had two heart attacks, would this change your opinion of the person and their value to the organization?

Legally, you could release the person from the organization if they are missing large amounts of time or taking a lot of breaks. Ethically, should you do it if mitigating circumstances are presented?

Conduct an audit on your organizational diversity and inclusion initiatives. What is in place regarding reasonable accommodations for PWD? How many leaders/managers/supervisors/team leads have self-identified as having a disability? Although organizations state that they are open to diversity and inclusion, many do not have the initiatives in place to support these statements.

If you are unsure of how to start a diversity and inclusion initiative, join me for the webinar: Defining Diversity and Inclusion for Your Organization.

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LIVE!! Diversity and Inclusion Webinar

Title: Defining Diversity and Inclusion for Your Organization

This webinar provides actionable first steps in creating a diversity and inclusion initiative for your organization.

Date: Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Time: 2 PM ET/1 PM CT/12 PM MT/11 AM PT

Audience: Leaders, managers, supervisors, change makers, and human resources professionals.

Register at: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/definingdi

This webinar is limited to 50 people, register now and save your seat. Those who attend will have access to the recording for two weeks.

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References:

Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2017, June 21). Economic news release: Persons with a disability: Labor force characteristics summary. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/news.release/disabl.nr0.htm

Theory Meets Practice: Executives in the Ethics Classroom Let’s Compare Notes!

by Diane L. Swanson, PhD    Kansas State University

theory-73181_1280Why this blog?

I am sharing my experience in team teaching ethics with a corporate executive because I want to hear from others who have done something similar. It is difficult to find such experiences documented anywhere; therefore, it would be ideal if Academy of Management members would share their thoughts on this subject here.

How my team teaching with an executive started:  

Approximately four years ago, I started team teaching my graduate professional ethics elective in our college of business with a recently retired senior executive.  This came about because the then dean of our college stopped me in the hall one day and asked if I wanted to team teach with our newly arrived executive in residence.

I usually pause for at least a few minutes before making any decision, not to mention one that affects my classes. However in this case, I quickly said “yes.”  Although I hadn’t yet met this gentleman, the dean told me of his stellar career with a Fortune 500 company and of his sincere interest in business ethics education.   I also knew that he was still serving on three boards of directors.

That was enough for me.

To make a long story short, this executive and I soon met to plan our experiment in team teaching. This coming fall will be our fourth semester team teaching this graduate course.

In due time, the dean put me in touch with yet another executive who helped me create an ethics teaching module for my MBA triple bottom line class.  Soon afterwards, a law partner of a large global firm started flying to campus twice a year to give lectures on ethics in my undergraduate and graduate classes and to our college’s professional advantage students.

I can attest to the advantages of these arrangements, especially the benefits from the team teaching arrangement.

Benefits of the team teaching:

  • The very presence of this executive in the classroom speaks volumes to students about the importance of ethics in the workplace.
  • The executive boosts this subject’s relevance by giving concrete examples of how and why ethical behavior in the workplace matters. Student teaching evaluations show as much.
  • Students are looking for role models. They want to take advice from a successful business executive, especially when it is given face-to-face in an ethics classroom.
  • What this executive has added to the class has influenced the topics covered in this course. Notably, given my teaching partner’s experience as a former senior vice president of a Fortune 500 firm and his role as a current board member for three organizations, I have added material on corporate governance to the course.
  • This executive has touched the lives of students in ways he may never know. I have heard from former students who tell me that their interactions with him made a positive difference in their professional lives. Three of them have offered to give back in kind someday. There could be a chain reaction taking shape!
  • The executive tells me that he enjoys helping students and giving back to society in this role.
  • I continually learn about developments in practice, especially those that affect the C-suite.

Our method in brief:  

My teaching partner is active in our classroom. (I now think of it as our classroom!)  He attends classes, meets with students in groups, and gives them thoughtful feedback on their presentations.  The method that works best for us is that I teach the models and then ask for his comments and observations.  Examples of the questions I pose to him include: How is this model relevant to practice in your view?  How is it not?  Could the model be altered to address practice better?

The most interesting conversations begin.  Essentially, we engage in looking at the models and material more critically.   Since this elective is just as much a course in critical thinking as it is a course in professional ethics, these conversations are a real plus.

Let’s compare notes!

Again, please feel free to use this blog site to weigh in on this topic. It would be nice to create some notes on best practices!

 

Diane L. Swanson, PhD
Professor of Management and Edgerly Family Endowed Chair of Business Administration
Founding Chair, Business Ethics Education Initiative
Kansas State University http://cba.k-state.edu/departments-initiatives/business-ethics/index.html
Co-editor: Advancing Business Ethics Education (2008) and Toward Assessing Business Ethics Education (2011)