27 October 2011

Idea Swappin'

This week's Super Idea Swap at ASAE was great, as usual! We had lots of new faces - and plenty of familiar ones - and sessions with different topics than we often see.

I chose to participate in the session on diversity in the morning, led by Constance Thompson from the American Society of Civil Engineers, and Clinton Anderson, from the American Psychological Association. In the afternoon, I participated in the session on generations in the workplace, led by David Miles from the Miles LeHane Companies.

My top takeaways included:
  • When pairing up mentors and padawans, stop putting like with like (Asian man with Asian man, Latina with Latina, etc.), and look at people's professional goals and who can best help them meet those goals.
  • Diversity is about how we're the same and different. Inclusion is about using diversity to make us and our organizations better.
  • DJ Johnson shared two great tools: the diversity wheel and the concept of the diversity paradigm by Roosevelt Thomas.
  • If you don't measure it, you can't change it - getting data from our audiences is key to becoming more diverse as organizations, but we have to be transparent about why we want the information to allay people's fears about sharing it.
  • We have to let people express the "who cares?" thoughts, since stifling those uncomfortable conversations helps no one.
  • Conflict is a sign of diverse voices, which, to a group that has been historically homogenous, feels threatening. 
  • The decisions of a heterogeneous group take longer, but tend to produce better outcomes.
  • "Do you know next?"
Edited 11/1/2011 to add: I forgot one great takeaway! ASAE is shifting focus from a laundry list of protected categories to talking about diversity and inclusion in terms of the way we think (culture, work style, learning style), the way we do things (process, teamwork, innovation), and the way we are (human factors, demographics, identity). LOVE!


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