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What We're Reading Now

10 February 2011

Allison referenced her go-to article about diversity, "Rethinking Political Correctness," by Robin J. Ely, Debra E. Meyerson and Martin N. Davidson from the September 2006 issue of the Harvard Business Review

Tags: allison read, communication, diversity, leadership

At Allison Partners, we believe diversity matters -- no doubt about that. We also believe that diversity is often a challenging subject for people to explore, so I'm excited to be in the midst of co-authoring a chapter about diversity and what it means for a new edition of the book, The Trusted Leader: Building the Relationships that Make Government Work. If you've ever started writing an article or book before, you may agree that the words don't always come easy -- sometimes even writing a blog post can seem like a bit of a struggle -- so when I was looking for a bit of inspiration, I turned to this article which is one of my favorite pieces of writing on the topic of diversity.

In "Rethinking Political Correctness," the authors assert that the promise of diversity in the workplace is often unrealized because a politically correct culture has contributed to an inability to have conversations about difference. Since we can't have conversations, we sometimes (most often unintentionally) step all over each other and reinforce the often untrue assumptions we have about our differences. I particularly appreciate that the authors don't just describe the problem, but also suggest some principles to help navigate the stickiest situations: pause, connect, question yourself, get genuine support and shift your mindset. While the focus is diversity, these principles aren't all that different from what we teach people about how to have the kind of difficult but productive dialogue that strengthens all relationships.

We very often have to read a lot before we can understand the depth and breadth of a topic as well as what we need to do to improve. Part of the beauty of this article is its brevity. It's a whole lot of goodness in just nine pages, and that's pretty powerful stuff.


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