Diversity: It’s Not What You Think

August 10, 2017

When I start talking to the mostly white male audiences about diversity, many think the following:

  1.  I’m calling them racists and misogynists.
  2.  I want them to blindly hire more women and minorities with no regard to talent or skill.
  3.  I want them to admit their sins and repent.

None of these are true.  In fact, my focus on diversity has very little to do with women and minorities.  Don’t get me wrong, the AEC industry needs more women and minorities.  It not only will make us stronger and better with more diverse ideas, it will go a long way to solve the current workforce development crisis.  We’re currently driving away millions of women and minorities because they don’t see the opportunities.  Take a look at most boards and C suites.  It’s mostly white males.  Take a look at middle and top managers.  Again, mostly white males.  There are few women and minorities coming into the industry and many of the ones who enter don’t stay.

My focus is more about embracing differences of all types.  The lack of women and minorities are just a symptom of a much larger issue.  We are not good at disruptive change and embracing new ways of working.  It shows up in the typical emotional profile for the industry.  As a group, we have high problem solving skills and reality testing (right/wrong thinking) and low flexibility.  This profile indicates a tendency toward control and perfectionism.  Great for specifications and processes.  Not great for innovation, creativity and diversity.

So when you hear the word “diversity”, check it out.  This concept of embracing new ways of doing things and new ideas will propel us into the next decade, and the industry will become stronger, more resilient, more agile, and more innovative.  And the by product of more women and minorities will be icing on the cake.

Our course on diversity and inclusion explores these mental models and biases and gives you tools to be able to overcome them. And our course on innovation and creativity explores how to break down the barriers to innovation in yourself and your company.  And if you want even more resources on emotional intelligence and all of the critical people skills your folks need to succeed, click here  for information on our online courses called The Total Leadership Library.

If you want more free information and resources, download my white paper that includes two of my bestselling books and another white paper on how to build the people before you build the project.  It will give you the tools you need to make your next project a huge success!  Click here to download the white paper.  

 


Stereotype or Generalization?

August 3, 2017

 

Let’s discuss the difference between stereotype and generalization.  Stereotype is when you react to an individual or group in a certain way based on your values, how you were raised, or your association with a particular group based on education, geographical area, or socio-economic background among others.  A generalization is your reaction to an individual or group based on your past experience with an individual or group.

A few weeks back, we viewed the clip from Up in the Air:

Click here to view

Is George Clooney’s character racist as his young traveling companion expresses?  He says he learned from his mother to stereotype.  He says, “It’s faster”.  His response to the various people in the security line were generalizations.  They was likely based on his past experience.  He likely noticed that many times, the line with mostly Asians tended to go faster.  So he generalized.  Generalizations can help us.  They can protect us.  But they can also set us up to distance ourselves from people or groups that we don’t need to distance ourselves from.

If you were in line at an ATM and the following people were behind you, how would you react to each?

The first one is a Caucasian, male, biker in full regalia, covered with tattoos, wearing dark sunglasses and has a scowl on his face.  The second is a well-groomed, middle-aged, African American man in a suit on a phone call.  The third person is a young, Caucasian man listening to music in headphones, dressed in the latest Hip Hop fashion, baggy pants, ball cap, sunglasses, and lots of bling.  The fourth person is an elegant Hispanic woman in a business suit.  The fifth person is a Caucasian woman dressed in a maid uniform.

What if you changed their race, age, ethnicity, gender, or clothing?  Would your reaction be different?

What comes into your mind when I say the following?:

Female project manager

Minority Contractor

African American Male Project Executive

Indian Female Structural Engineer

Chinese Male Plumbing Contractor

Female Engineer

Pakistani Male Estimator

Grey-haired Engineer

Are there positive and negative generalizations and stereotypes that come into your mind?

How do these mental models affect your interactions with these folks?  Have you generalized to the point where you don’t give the individual a fair shake?

Our course on diversity and inclusion explores these mental models and biases and gives you tools to be able to overcome them. And if you want even more resources on emotional intelligence and all of the critical people skills your folks need to succeed, click here  for information on our online courses called The Total Leadership Library.

If you want more free information and resources, download my white paper that includes two of my bestselling books and another white paper on how to build the people before you build the project.  It will give you the tools you need to make your next project a huge success!  Click here to download the white paper.  

 


Women in Leadership Roles: It’s about Time!

May 21, 2015

woman leader

“I just love bossy women. I could be around them all day. To me, bossy is not a pejorative term at all. It means somebody’s passionate and engaged and ambitious and doesn’t mind leading.” Amy Poehler

For all of the women out there that are in leadership roles or aspire to a leadership role in the construction/engineering industry, first of all, let me applaud you.  We desperately need more women in the industry.  This is a new focus for me.  The industry needs more women and minorities or we will not be sustainable.  Women add so much.  And with the focus on more collaborative project delivery methods, more women is critical to project success.  According to my research, women have better collaborative emotional skills than men.  Women tend to score higher in empathy, social responsibility, and interpersonal relationships.  Men tend to score higher in self-regard, assertiveness, and independence.

My idea is a two-pronged approach:  First, provide meaningful training to all of the women and minorities so that they can navigate their way through this predominantly male, white world and be successful.  There are some very successful women and minorities in the industry.  It’s just a matter of tapping into that resource, quantify the skills that they utilized to reach that level of success, and create a curriculum to teach these skills.  And I believe that these intangible skills are teachable and learnable.  Second, provide training for the majority (white males) on how to better work with women and minorities.  We have to meet in the middle, have some difficult discussions, go beyond stereotypes, and figure it out.

Check out more resources on this issue:

Check out my ENR Viewpoint Article on Diversity  (you may need a subscription to ENR to view)

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg:

There is a new course on Coursera on Women in Leadership.  I have taken some Coursera courses, and they are pretty awesome.  And they are FREE!

A couple more articles from ENR:

1,000-Strong Tradeswomen Gathering Sees Future in Doubled Apprenticeships

(you may need a subscription to ENR to view)

Industry Women Tackle Still Nagging Worksite Challenges

(you may need a subscription to ENR to view)

If you have some ideas and/or you would like to help with this initiative, please let me know.

brent@brentdarnell.com