In a sense that's very uplifting and rewarding, but in a sense it's disappointing. I don't "walk on water" at work, and there truly must be things I could do better. I suppose I should just enjoy the positive feedback, and not be so hard on myself.
Actually, all I want to do at this point is make it through next Thursday, since I leave for Greece on Friday. :-)
I sat on a panel at an IBM "brown bag lunch and learn session" today. The session started off with 15 or so slides about IBM's commitment to diversity, and describing what a "Diversity Network Group (DNG)" is in IBM. We have eight of them: Black; Asian; Hispanic/Latino; Native American; Gay, Lesbian Bisexual & Transgender (GLBT); Women; Men; and People with Disabilities.
Following that a panel, which was supposed to consist of a member representing each of the DNGs, was asked several questions about the local DNGs. The person who was supposed to represent the Women DNG came in right before the meeting to say that a work emergency had come up that she had to tend to. The Black DNG had a rep, as did the Native American DNG. There were two reps (not quite sure why, but one was male and one female, so that provided some added diversity), and I represented the GLBT DNG.
Here are the questions asked, along with my answers. Some of my answers are just "bullet points" made to help me remember the answer. One or two contain the full prose of what I said.
1. What are the signs that IBM values a diverse work force?
Diversity Awareness Months & Weeks
Educational Sessions (such as this one)
2. What are the benefits of participating in a Diversity Network Group?
Networking (in terms of both meeting people in other areas of the business, and learning about other types of jobs there are in the business)
In the case of joining a DNG of which you are not a constituent, learning about their culture and the issues they face in the work place
Leadership development potential
3. How do Diversity Network Groups help their members become more effective in the workplace?
Leadership development – how to grow an organization and plan events (both business-related and social)
An increased, often cross-organization, network of resources from which to solve problems or gain perspective
By being a potential mentoring pool
4. How comfortable, accepted and valued do you feel in this organization? Why?
I am very comfortable, and feel extremely valued by the EAGLE group. Why? Mostly because I was the Communications Coordinator of the organization for a couple of years and over that time received a lot of good feedback about my leadership in the organization through that role.
5. Please describe your experience working in a diverse environment - the benefits and the challenges.
I learn new things
I come to better conclusions in analysis
I get reminded that my way is not always the “right,” “best,” or “only” way – a reality check if you will
I sometimes want things my way!
With greater diversity, the potential for a greater number of options to consider, or the more complex the options to consider become, which can make decision-making more difficult.
6. What are the obstacles in the way of employees who are different from the mainstream?
What’s particularly challenging about being a gay employee is that we are often the “invisible” minority. Often managers and colleagues think, “Well, we have no gay employees in our department or team, so it’s not really necessary to make an effort to use inclusive language like, ‘Are you married or do you have a partner?’” when first meeting. However, closeted gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees often use these type of cues to “assess their current work climate” before feeling safe enough to “come out.”
7. What contributions and behaviors are most valued and rewarded in this organization?
People who will step up to a leadership position in the organization
People who attend events sponsored by the organization
People who help educate other employees about our constituency, and about diversity in IBM in general
People who seek to affect change through education, and by leading by example, rather than just pointing out problems
8. How do Diversity Network Groups provide opportunities to exercise and develop the IBM Leadership and Foundational Competencies?
Communication (Communication Coordinator Position)
Passion for the Business (Participating in an “off hours” organization)
Teamwork & Collaboration (Working on committees to organize presentation and events)
Trustworthiness (Making a commitment to the group, and meeting that commitment)
Leadership (By being officers of the group, or committee chairs, or just hosting occasional events)
Personal Growth (Through networking, gaining a broader knowledge of the business)
9. Regarding diversity or your experience as an individual from a diverse background, what has been your most memorable experience?
Having Ted Childs (VP, Global Workforce Diversity) recognize value in an educational poster I developed called, “The Cost of the Closet,” by initiating its use in New Manager’s School when the module on Diversity is covered.
10. What have you gained personally from participating in a Diversity Network Group?
It has helped to make my work life “fun,” which is a high requirement for me. We work too much of our lives not to have fun doing it.
11. What final words of advice can you offer about diversity, working in a diverse environment etc.
Get “out” there, no pun intended, and experience our diverse and changing world. One of our foundational competencies is “adaptability,” and experience with diverse thought can go a long way in adapting to change.
Two people came up to me after the session to chat, which was cool. One was a lady, and she said that it was great to have the group, especially when you move to the area, because when her uncle moved here, he didn't know anything about "the community" at all.
The other person who stopped to chat was a straight guy, which surprised me. And he was cute, which was bonus. During one of my answers I had mentioned that our DNG had organized a trip to Greece this year, and that I was going on it. He stopped to tell me that he had been to Mykonos, and what a great place it was. He said, "There are two killer beaches there, one called Paradise Beach (the straight beach), and the other called Super Paradise Beach (the gay beach). Both nude."
To myself, I laughed that the gay one had the "super" superlative attached to it. So dramatic. :-)
ENG 512 was fun tonight. As (Dr.) Susan started talking, I raised my hand, "What about your photoshoot tonight?" Turns out it had been canceled. The photographer was confused about her schedule, and it turned out she has class at the same hour we're in that class.
From each of us, Susan collected the list indicating our top three choices of topics to work on for our team projects. She will group us in teams of three, while trying to give each of us our highest prioritized choice.
This is what I submitted to her:
2. International and Intercultural Concerns
These are my top three choices for the team assignment.
I’m going to guess that most students indicating gender as their number one choice will be women. (I hope I’m wrong.) If so, however, I hope you will consider making that team “diverse” by having at least one male (me!) on the team.
I would be researching from a “gay male” perspective. Many issues people have with gay men are deeply rooted in gender stereotypes. For instance, in surveys, in general, when asking straight men in particular, “What is it that you don’t like about gay men?” the number one answer given is, “They act like women.”
Additionally, I often find gay men employing a “feminine communication style,” which I find intriguing, and would be interested in researching. By feminine communication style, I’m not referring to effeminate style, of course, but rather style à la Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.
Please know that it is not my intention to make a soapbox out of this. I would present any findings matter-of-factly as simply one of three contributors to the group presentation on gender considerations in technical communication.
Thank you for your consideration.
Dancing was fun tonight. There were a lot of dancers there. During the first dance, the Tush Push, there were 10 guys dancing. Cool.
We tried desperately to remember the steps of the dance Mark taught us to My Maria last Saturday. We got it down to how we thought it went, but not before, in my opinion, too much churning with the entire group. I think we should have spent more time figuring it out for ourselves, and making sure it's right, before we teach a whole "classful" of folks. It's frustrating to have to relearn a dance because it wasn't taught right the first time. I'll be anxious to hear Tony's report next week, once he talks to Mark to find out if we did get the ending right. It still feels like something is wrong with the way we're doing that dance to me.
It was Carl's birthday, and we had fun celebrating that. I had a great shadow dance with Gerald, and a couple of good two-steps with Joe. And there was one killer, very fast two-step with Rick, in which I started out leading, it wasn't going very well and he took over. We dance so much better when he leads, but when he dances with me he so wants to be the girl. I had wonderful slow dances with Robert, and Schottische is always fun with him.
At the end of the night, Kevin and Megan were there again (they came once a couple of months ago), and she, as she did the last time, asked me at the end of the night to "teach me to dance." We did a two-step, which came back to her quickly. It was then that I remembered I taught it to her the last time, and I believe that she is a dancer, in some capacity, in life.
Then I danced with Kevin. He was cute in an awkward kind of way, and surprised me by saying he thought he should learn "the girl's part." I get the impression he hangs around with Megan, and straight people in general, for the most part, so I would have thought the he would have wanted to learn "the man's part."
So, we started with me in the lead position, with him as the follow. About half way through he said, "But I keep wanting to do this with my hand," at which point he held up his left hand like the lead (or "the man") usually does. I switched us, taking the follow position (but "back-leading"), and that went a lot more smoothly.
It was a late, but very fun night.