Please join us!
When: Friday, November 24, 1 p.m. EST / 6 p.m. GMT /11:30 p.m. IST
Topic: Minorities Matter!
“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.”
– Bertrand Russell, British philosopher (1872-1970)
Luke, a friend of mine, worked for a mining company deep in the African bush. As you can imagine, it was a testosterone-fueled environment, with “macho” men running the show.
Luke, who did a specialized job in a high-risk area of the mine, was what I call “a sensitive soul.” He was a kind and gentle person. He owned a music and movie collection spanning 30 years and loved watching the Oscars. His food was delectable, and he enjoyed growing orchids. The garden around the living quarters was his pet project and, apart from me, he was the only person whom the manager’s two rescued African grey parrots trusted.
Because of his interests, Luke was a minority in the group of white, macho “expats” with whom he worked. He and the mine manager were the only non-drinkers; the rest of the men were heavy drinkers.
I knew nothing about Luke’s sexual orientation. But, because he was different from the other guys, he was often referred to as “Miss Daisy” behind his back. He endured subtle jibes from them, but the more drunk they got, the less subtle the jibes.
When Luke was dealing with a severe health problem and had to undergo surgery, the other men teased him about undergoing a hysterectomy.
I wish I could say that the manager stood up for Luke, but he didn’t. He also had his subtle ways of putting Luke down and making fun of him. That was until I visited the mine. I couldn’t stand seeing him being humiliated or made fun of for the amusement of “the mob.”
From the first time “the boys club” made fun of Luke in my presence, I opposed those men and let them know that their behavior was unacceptable. It didn’t make me their favorite person, and they tried to make women the topic of their ignorant remarks and crude jokes. However, they quickly learned that I wasn’t only going to fight for the underdog, but I wasn’t going to let them put me down either.
Every time that I was at the mine, I worked relentlessly to teach them about respect for everybody, whether they’re like you or not, whether you like them or not.
By the time the mining project ended, and I stopped going there, some of the men had become somewhat more sensitized to how they were treating other people. I’m happy to say that the mine manager has learned a lot about handling minorities with dignity and kindness.
And me? I will keep on doing what I do, and I refuse to keep quiet because it’s when good people remain silent that bad things prevail.
In our Twitter poll this week we asked if you belong to a minority group, whether that minority was defined by age, sex, sexual orientation, race, religion or creed. Most of the people who responded voted that they belonged to either an immigrant group or racial minority. Click here to see all the results.
In Friday’s chat, we’re going to talk discuss “Minorities Matter.” We’d love you to participate in the chat, and the following questions may spark some thoughts in preparation for it:
- What/Who do we mean by minorities? And why does this matter?
- How fairly does your workplace treat minorities? Give examples.
- What kinds of discrimination have you experienced or witnessed?
- What is unconscious bias and how does it affect minorities at work?
- What’s the business case for embracing minorities at work? Why does engaging minorities at work matter?
- How well do you engage at work with people who are different from you?
- What behaviors are necessary to have bold, inclusive conversations in the workplace?
To help you to prepare for the chat, we’ve compiled a list of resources for you to browse.
At Mind Tools, we really enjoy hearing from people all over the globe. We’d like to learn from you too and we invite you to participate in the #MTtalk chat this Friday at 1 p.m. EST (6 p.m. GMT/11:30 p.m. IST). Remember, we feature great participant responses right here on our blog every week!
How to join
Follow us on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action this Friday! We’ll be tweeting out 10 questions during our hour-long chat. To participate in the chat, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “All Tweets” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. You can join the chat by using the hash tag #MTtalk in your responses.